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May 26, 2012 08:13 AM

Chef Matt Taylor Leaves Noca

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  1. Very interesting. I'd like to hear the official response to this from Eliot and Matt Taylor, although I'm sure that won't be the full story.

    1. So he lasted less than a year?

      1. That is sad news, indeed.

        I though that Chef Taylor was doing some good, and fun things, and Eliot was very high, plus accommodating.

        Sorry to hear that, as we were both impressed.


        1. New Chef named -


          It didn't take chef Claudio Urciuoli long to land a high-profile new gig. Less than a month after his sudden split from Chris Bianco, he's resurfaced at Noca, replacing Matt Taylor.

          Taylor and Noca owner Eliot Wexler agreed to part ways last Wednesday. "There's no scandal, no juicy gossip," said Taylor, 27. He and Wexler had different ideas about Noca's direction. "He's an owner and he needs to do what he needs to do. And I need to do what I need to do."

          After his arrival last September, Taylor had given Noca a jolt with his Southern-inspired dishes. Now, under Urciuoli, the menu will acquire an Italian sensibility, said Wexler, with additional emphasis on homemade pastas and seafood. And later this summer, Noca will add pizza to the mix.

          Read more:

          7 Replies
          1. re: aricat

            Interesting, and greatly appreciated.

            Personally, while a big fan of Chef Curtiss, I enjoyed much of Chef Taylor's menu, but then I am from the Deep South, and many of his mentors were in New Orleans, my "City of light," and a culinary mecca in my estimation. For us (wife is a NOLA native, and many in her family are, or were, in the business), Chef Taylor's bent was very welcome. I am saddened to see him depart, and wish him all the best. I hope to see him emerge in another venue. I also thought that Chef Taylor and Eliot Wexler were on "the same page," from having spoken to both, but what a patron sees on the outside, may well be different that what is inside.

            I do not know Chef Urciuoli, but await dining at NOCA, with him at the helm. I hope that he does not concentrate too heavily on just Italian dishes, but has more "tricks up his sleeve."

            Thank you for the details. While saddened at the departure of Chefs Curtiss and Taylor, I hold out great hopes for Chef Urciuoli, and my beloved NOCA.


            1. re: Bill Hunt

              I guess my first thought was 'Not pizza!' - we have so many great choices for that already, along with some decent Italian - NOCA seemed to fill a niche unique to this area. I guess we'll have to wait and see. Hopefully they'll go heavy on the seafood.

              1. re: aricat

                I do agree with you there. Italian is great, but we do have some very good variations available. We'll all just have to wait a bit.

                While we loved Chef Curtiss, we did embrace Chef Taylor. We hope to do the same again.


                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  I am a bit worried. I really don't want Noca to head down the Italian path. I really enjoyed their "modern American" spin and I think Chef Taylor's southern spin fit as it is "American".

                  1. re: Random987


                    My wife and I had about the same discussion yesterday evening.

                    Now, there may well be aspects, that are above our "pay grade," but I would love to see NOCA rather "stay the course." OK, there should be chef-driven aspects, but a major departure would not be something that we'd like to hear about.

                    I worry that Chef Taylor's "Southern" bent might not have struck a chord, though it did with us.

                    His version of New Orleans Seafood Gumbo was right at a solid # 2, behind my wife's version, when she can get the ingredients fresh. We have now done two "Gumbo Trips," back to New Orleans and the Deep South (MS Gulf Coast here), and his version was at the top. Did it go over with the PHX dining public? Only he, and Eliot can answer that.

                    Did his use of Allan Benton's bacon and country ham, go over with everyone? I cannot say, but it resonated with us. We were at the Southern Foodways' Taste of the South at Blackberry Farm, when Allan received their grand award for his his contributions to the foodstuffs of the South.

                    Still, we are but two, and I have no clue how the general populace received the food. We enjoyed it. It ranged from good, all the way up to excellent. Not sure what the deal was, but we will miss him. We had the opportunity to introduce some of our New Orleans family to his cooking, and they loved it. They also have several family members in the business, and most got their start in some of the same kitchens, with the same chefs, as Chef Taylor.

                    Will NOCA be better? I have a feeling that if Eliot is involved, we will see something to praise. He is that sort of owner. Just because we might miss Chefs Curtiss and Taylor, does not mean that we will not still be fans of a very good, and enjoyable restaurant.

                    We will let things sort out, and then I will comment.


                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      Mr. Hunt,

                      I greatly appreciate the support of you and your wife...It really means a lot..I can't wait to cook sometime soon for you both. Once again, I am gracious and flattered by your honesty and love of food. Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!


                      1. re: matttaylor

                        Chef Taylor,

                        We will be honored to dine with you again.

                        I think that your gumbo (on the Mason-Dixon Menu), was one of the very best that either of us have ever encountered, and we have had at least three trips to NOLA and the Deep South, where some form of gumbo was in every meal, after breakfast. Yours was in the "All Time Top 5," just below my wife's version, when she gets here "Care Package" from the boats south of New Orleans.

                        You also know how much we love the cured meats from Alan Benton, and your featuring those, was a blessing.

                        The best of fortune, and please let us know your plans, when appropriate.

                        Thank you,

                        Bill Hunt