Chef Joe Brings Creativity and Culture to Scorpion Bay Grille

If you’ve eaten at Scorpion Bay Grille anytime during the past eight years you’ve enjoyed the culinary creations of Chef Joe. His creativity and passion for food has solidified the Grille’s elevated menu and brings guests back time and again. Once you learn the history of his time there, you’ll likely be even more inclined to visit.

“I had just left a job and was going looking and saw the job posting,” he said. “I came in and met with the team and they hired me on the spot. I had keys the next day.”

Like any job, the key to longevity is to enjoy the process and journey and he’s made that a priority from day one. “I told the team, ‘Let’s do this and have fun doing it.’ I’ve been doing this for eight years and still thoroughly enjoy it.” And, like any job, being passionate about what you do makes work feel like play. “I love my job, I love food. That’s all I think about is food! I’ve got menus planned for almost the next month.”

Scorpion Bay Grille prides itself on being a relaxed atmosphere with an elevated menu. Chef Joe credits that unique vibe to the team who works tirelessly behind the scenes. “We work together. It’s never just me. We collaborate, we try stuff together, we make stuff and change it. We try things from other restaurants and country clubs and change it up to make it unique to the Grille.”

Chef Joe credits his passion for cooking to his grandmother whom he would learn from as a teenager. “My joy of cooking, the passion, came from my grandmother. She was a cook herself and worked at a seminary for catholic priests and nuns. She also played piano for the silent movies. Grandma Alice. She always had a cake in the oven and on her piano bench at home and always had a pewter candy dish full of x’s and o’s candies. She taught me how to bake, cook and prepare. That’s where the passion started.”

When he was 18, he worked as a busboy at a restaurant, then became a dishwasher, a pantry cook, a line cook, and eventually head chef. Now he’s in a position where he can create menu items to suit each season and palate. He said he finds inspiration just about everywhere, “All different places. Pinterest, Google, but most of it I just think of. I dream about food!” He then spends time dialing in the recipes that ultimately wind up on the menu. He’s quick to point out that not every creation is a hit with diners. “Tongue sandwich on rye didn’t work. It was on the menu at a country club in Denver where I worked for nine years.”

Throughout his career, Chef Joe has learned the intricacies of food, flavor and presentation. 

“I came from a very humble beginning and learned from some really great chefs on how to use your brain to prepare food and change food.” Because of that he follows only a few guidelines: If I wouldn’t eat it, I wouldn’t serve it. We eat with our eyes. If it doesn’t look appealing, it won’t be appealing, and you’ll have complaints. 

His face lights up when talking about his most recent menu items. “The bistro sliders are great; the marinated filet, it’s so good. The Sorbet trio will be big once summer hits. The sorbets are all locally made. And then our Reuben, it’s probably the best in the Valley because we take the sauerkraut and add brown sugar, crispy bacon and we char it in the oven. I just thought of that one day, “why don’t we just char it.”

In addition to the new Bistro Sliders, his current favorites are the Phoenician Hot Chicken, Maple Pear Salad and the Sesame Ginger Salad. Guests seem to like those ones, too. “Right now, our most popular items are the Phoenician, the Bistro, the Fish and Chips—we go through 200 pounds of cod every week—and of course the hamburger. Everyone loves our hamburgers. Oh, and the Dam Good Tacos. There’s a lot people love!”

When you dine at the Scorpion Bay Grille, you’ll not only enjoy amazing food, but you’ll also be treated like an old friend. “I always go out to the table, not a lot of chefs do that. If something were wrong, how can I fix it or what can we do as a family to make this right for you? I’m a people person and I want to make sure we’ve made you happy.” And when he says “as a family,” he means it. “It’s a family atmosphere here at Scorpion Bay. We’re all about family. People who come here feel like family. Non-members come out and they love it because I took time to check on them and ask them how they’re doing. We have a really good rapport with all of our people. The one thing here, at a lot of restaurants and country clubs, it’s front of the house versus the back of the house, and we don’t have that here. We are THE TEAM. We’re woven together as a family and all of us take care of you together. I’ve never worked at a place that was this way and I just love it. We win together.”

Check out the menu, hours and plan your next visit to taste Chef Joe (and the entire team’s) latest culinary creations: 

About Scorpion Bay

Located just 45 minutes from downtown Phoenix in Peoria, Arizona on Lake Pleasant, Scorpion Bay offers convenience and world-class marina services for the entire family. With hundreds of covered and uncovered wet slips, world-class food at Scorpion Bay Grill – as well as boat rentals including pontoons, fishing boats, ski-boats, kayaks and other water toys – you’re sure to find a full day of entertainment on the water. As part of Lake Pleasant Regional Park, visitors can venture out for hiking, picnicking and wildlife viewing in the area. Parking is easily accessible, and our no cost electric tram will take guests and their gear from the parking lot to the dock in minutes. Scorpion Bay is managed by Desert Troon Companies

Scorpion Bay is Arizona’s premier floating playground, offering everything from daily pontoon and ski boat rentals to slips for harboring your yacht (or dinghy). Come for the fishing or come for the frolicking—either way, incredible mountain views, fantastic dining and world-class marina services await less than an hour out of Phoenix.