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Eddie Matney Kicks off the Monti’s Culinary Masters Series on February 22

Posted on: March 2nd, 2011 by Taryn Jeffries No Comments

Monti’s Las Casa Vieja in Tempe is celebrating its 55th Anniversary and has launched an exciting three-part Culinary Masters Series that began on February 22nd.

Here’s how it works: on the last Tuesday of every month, Monti’s will be bringing in local culinary masters to spotlight their talents and mix things up in the kitchen. Monti’s is known for its time-tested classic dishes, so what better way to rouse up their favorites than to lend an apron to these local chefs and their identifiably innovative cuisine.

We were invited to attend the kick-off with Eddie Matney, one of our favorite local chefs. Having never visited Monti’s before, this was an exciting night for us on all accounts. Our servers were Shannon and Crystal. They were very attentive, always making sure that we were comfortable and that all items presented to us were to our liking. Shannon was very well versed on Eddie’s menu and was quick with information and recommendations.

When Eddie Matney and Michael Monti came to our table (which they did for every guest that ordered from Eddie’s menu, not just because I had previously interviewed Eddie) to explain all the dishes that we had ordered and to talk a little about the Culinary Masters experience, the energy and excitement of the night was infectious. Eddie is an absolute joy to be around. Regardless of what he is talking about you want to hear every word. There is so much joy in his words and his face that you can’t help but be excited and energized just by being in his presence. He spoke of how welcomed he felt, and likened it to walking into his restaurant, Eddie’s House. He told us that there was such a great energy there – from everyone in the kitchen to all the members of the wait-staff that he encountered. When talking to us about our Mo’Rockin Shrimp Cocktail, he told us that while he was back cooking them on the flat top, it took him back to one of his first restaurant jobs cooking on an open-fire flat top when he was 15.  He shared with us that he was so short he had to stand on a box while he was working. This is the beauty of Eddie; he always has an entertaining story to tell that will get you excited about the food and the overall experience.

Michael Monti was delightful and equally as passionate about his restaurant. We talked about Jimmy, Monti’s Chef who is only 22 years old (keep a look out for Jimmy to be featured on our Chef’s Corner very soon), and how he has held just about every position at the restaurant and that he “has made himself what he is”. Michael said that Jimmy is energized by the idea of the Culinary Masters Series and is excited at the possibilities that it entails.\

Fact: Monti’s has 14 dining rooms and, by order of the Fire Marshall, can house 725 diners. That’s a lot of people!

Before our meal, I enjoyed Jimmy’s Favorite Margarita which was very nice, the orange juice helped to make it not so tart – very nice flavor.

On to the food!

Appetizer:

Eddie’s Mo’Rockin Shrimp Cocktail

5 shrimp served with a spicy Atomic Horseradish cocktail sauce.

Taryn: Grilled on flat top, atomic horseradish was very spicy, in the best possible way. Great heat and excellent accompaniment for the grilled shrimp.

Amy: Having previously enjoyed a Mo’Rockin Shrimp dish at Eddie’s House, I knew this would be a real (spicy) treat. I’m a big fan of horseradish and loved the heat.

Taryn’s Entrée:

Eddie’s Filet Mignon Wrapped with Prosciutto

Eddie’s Filet Mignon wrapped with Prosciutto and served with Parmesan and Truffle Fries.

Taryn: The filet was served with a very savory gravy, full flavored and slightly salty which I loved. The Parmesan Truffle fries were amazing – and I must preface that by saying that I have come to find that I do not have a love affair with truffles as some do. I was a little scared that I was going to hate the fries, but as it turned out the truffle oil that was used was just subtle enough that it was a slight after note and I quite enjoyed them…I am pretty sure that I ate each and every one on my plate!

Amy’s Entrée:

Baby Back Ribs Topped with a Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce

Baby Back Ribs topped with a Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce made with cantaloupe & Serrano peppers, served with a baked potato.

Amy: I love ribs. I love BBQ. I love cantaloupe and Serrano peppers are my go-to pepper when I need to spice things up. Could these ribs have been more perfect? Probably not! They were absolutely spicy, but rounded out lovingly by the sweetness of cantaloupe. Yes, I finished them all! Wherever Eddie serves these ribs, that’s where I’ll be.

Dessert:

Peach Cobbler

Monti’s Peach Cobbler (sweet peaches in a flaky crust, bubbling with juicy filling & served with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream)

Taryn: I love a good cobbler and peach happens to be my favorite.  It was sweet without being sickening so and the Cinnamon Ice Cream (that is made specifically for Monti’s) was incredible.  You just can’t beat the hot and cold combo. Delicious!

Amy: Just like the peach cobbler I used to get in Oklahoma… comforting, warm and sweet. I’m not even a dessert fanatic, but I’m pretty sure I ate my fair share of this cobbler! I really enjoyed the cinnamon ice cream as well.

Don’t miss the upcoming dinners as a part of this three-part culinary series:

Monti’s La Casa Vieja | 100 South Mill Avenue | Tempe, AZ | 480-967-7594

Re-cap by Taryn Jeffries with commentary from Amy Martin, PhoenixBites Staff

*This meal was provided to us complimentary as a part of a media invitation. However, this has no effect on our opinions and comments regarding our experience. View our Disclosure Policy for further explanation.

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About the Author - Taryn Jeffries

Editor and Chief Eating Officer of PhoenixBites, Taryn grew up in a small town in Illinois with a doting Grandmother who taught her the way around a kitchen. Now, her own kitchen is teeming with food related magazines and countless cookbooks (dog-eared and full of post-it notes) as she tests new recipes to share with her husband and two boys.

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