Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Chef For The Day at Talavera Restaurant

By: The Food Hunter

A few weeks back I embarked on a cooking adventure of a lifetime with Chef Mel Mecinas of Talavera Restaurant, in Scottsdale. Anyone who has ever wanted to know what it's like to work in a "real" kitchen, with culinary professionals, would love the Chef For A Day program at the Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North.

Chef Mel gave me a behind the scenes look at what really happens in a restaurant kitchen. We walked the grounds of the magnificent Four Seasons resort as Chef described his day from start to finish.

It turns out that cooking isn't the hard part. Identifying the best quality meats, fish and produce, creating and finalizing menus and making sure everything flows smoothly each and every day is way harder!

Working alongside Chef Mecinas and his kitchen staff was an epicurean experience I will never forget. I was welcomed into his kitchen with my very own embroidered chef's coat and put me right to work.

Together, Chef Mecinas and I shelled fava beans,

chopped mushrooms,

and rolled out 50lbs of gnocchi

which Chef Mel had seasoned in the largest bowl I'd ever seen.

I even got to attend the nightly kitchen staff meeting where they talked shop before the guests arrived.

The kitchen adventure also included time with Pastry Chef Lance Whipple. We talked dessert and bread as we did a walk-through of the bakery.

And got our hands dirty pitting what must have been 1000 cherries!

The best part of the experience was that after 4 hours of hard work in the kitchen I got to hang up my apron, put on my fancy clothes and join my husband for a multi-course dinner that I helped prepare.

We feasted on the Ahi Tuna Tartare adorned with avocado, radish & ponzu.

The seared Foie Gras over pound cake with cherries.

The Beef Carpaccio served with crab, caper berry and a 7 minute fried egg.

Seared Diver Scallops with mushrooms, fiddleheads over sweat pea risotto

Filet with mushrooms & a sweet pea sauce.

Dessert started with a cheese plate that consisted of 3 different cheeses, nuts and fruit.

Followed by the Milk Chocolate Panna Cotta served with rich chocolate cake and caramel rice crispies.

And lastly the cheese cake with fresh fruit.

Knowing it was going to be a late evening, we had made plans in advance to stay the night at the hotel. After dinner we retired to our 2nd fl. suite. Our room was lovely with, pastel colors and high-quality custom furnishings sourced from Mexican artists.

We had a private balcony that overlooked the pool and the magnificent views of the desert.

The next morning as we enjoyed breakfast on our private balcony before heading home and back to reality, I couldn't help but think how truly wonderful our time at the Four Seasons was.

From the once in a life time kitchen experience, to the stellar accommodations and delicious food it was truly something I will never forget, the only downside being it was over way to fast.

This was provided complimentary. However, all opinions and comments are my own.


  1. Wow you visit the most beautiful places! What a great experience!

  2. I'm so jealous of your visit!! That looks so fun. My hubby would have been in his glory with all those cherries :)

  3. I know you said the hardest part is picking out the food but I never got how they time things so perfectly. The elements of my meals are always ready, like, 10 minutes apart. ;)

  4. I think working with a chef in a professional kitchen for a day would be such an adventure! I'm just a bit envious of you right now :-)

  5. Ahhh I love your chef coat and the Four Seasons resort looks beautiful! I bet it was so much fun being in the kitchen with Chef Mecinas!!

  6. Wow! What an amazing experience! The resort is gorgeous!

  7. Sounds like such an awesome experience. I'm in love w/ that Carpaccio w/ the egg, mmmmm!

  8. Beautiful location and great restaurant. That is very nice of them to provide others with this experience. Chef job is fun, stressful and rewarding.

  9. I would love to take part in that program. The setting is beautiful and I think that might be the largest bowl I have ever seen as well.

  10. You get to see and experience the coolest stuff! Looks wonderful!

  11. How much fun was this?!!! Your pictures are just terrific, the food looks incredible and the picture of you & your hubby is stunning!

  12. What a fun day for you! I've followed around the chef at Deer Valley for a day, and it was so opening to see all that she was responsible for.

  13. I would love to participate in a program such as this, sounds like it was an incredible experience!