David Ruiz is one of Albuquerque’s premier chefs. He was featured on the Food Network’s Chopped in 2016 and Guy Fieri’s Family Road Trip in 2017. He was also the winner of the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project in 2018, and he’ll be featured in a brand new upcoming Food Network show called “It’s CompliPlated” Tuesday, September 20 at 8pm MST at Scalo in Nob Hill. David is one busy chef.
He is now operating as the executive chef at Scalo’s, an upscale Italian eatery located in Nob Hill. We sat down for a quick chat about the restaurant.
The Paper.: You’ve only been at Scalo a few months. What attracted you to cooking here?
One of the reasons I took over as executive chef is just because this place has been a crown jewel of Albuquerque and Nob Hill. Scalo opened in the late 80s, and to me, it’s one of the most—if not the most—beautiful restaurants we have, with its wide open double patio and open kitchen. I mean this place is just a chef’s dream. It just so happened that the timing was right. The owners and I had multiple meetings before I took the job, and we found that we had a lot of common ground—very similar goals. I jumped all over the opportunity to be able to work here.
Why should diners choose Scalo instead of some other restaurant?
What sets it apart is just the creativity that we do here. I’m a very creative chef. We make about 90 to 95 percent of everything in house. We source local ingredients. Our pasta is made almost daily. There aren’t a lot of places just making their own fresh pasta.
This place is just beautiful. It’s a flagship restaurant. We’re really in the beginning stages of where I think we’ll be in a year or two down the road. We’re just about to change the menu here in a few weeks. Our menu changes seasonally, which is awesome.
It’s also the level of service that we have. We have professional people—career servers—who just have such a great knowledge of wine and are able to pair foods with wines. And not only that. It’s just the place to be. It’s the place to be seen.
You have a little bit of a history in Albuquerque, what attracts you to being a chef here?
I’ve just built a really great career here. I’ve been blessed to work with a lot of really great people, and I’ve had some great opportunities. I grew up in San Francisco. I love the Bay Area, but Albuquerque is just a beautiful place.
Is there anything special on the upcoming menu?
So one of our new dishes that we’re going to be doing is this beautiful field picatta. It’s going to be my ode to the veal picatta dish. We’re going to use preserved lemons and capers and veal that we’re going to soak in our own house fermented yogurt for 24 hours. We’re also going to bring back these beautiful jumbo crab cakes that Scalo was famous for back in the day. We’re going to do my new spin on it with fresh grapefruit and a celery leaf salad.
“It’s CompliPlated” airs on The Food Network on Tuesdays at 12pm CST.