Interview with Four Seasons Scottsdale’s Executive Chef Mel Mecinas
It’s true, what they say – If you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. Executive Chef of Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, Chef Mel Mecinas, knows how the story goes. He described his typical day on the job in a recent interview – with early mornings starting at 5:30am, checking emails and getting a head-start on the day. He makes it a priority to cook breakfast every morning for his sons, fueling them for a great day at school. Though it may seem as if there are not enough hours in the day for this chef and all of his responsibilities, he manages to do it all and do it all well. Chef Mel has been a part of the Four Seasons family for nearly 15 years and in Scottsdale for six. He held his first Four Seasons position as the dining room chef for two years at the resort’s Santa Barbara property in 1997. Following, he served as an executive sous chef for five years at the same property and here, he often cooked for Julia Child and even created the second course dish for her 90th birthday celebration. Now, he heads up the resort’s culinary creations in Scottsdale and is the mastermind behind Crescent Moon and Talavera.
PhoenixBites Interview With Chef Mel Mecinas
Amy Martin: Can you describe a typical ‘day on the job’?
Chef Mel Mecinas: What can I say? Every day is so much fun! My day starts early in the morning (5:30-6am) when I check my emails to see what happened overnight or if there is anything that I need to make a priority. When I arrive at the hotel, I will do a walk-through of all my kitchens first – to greet my team – which is my daily routine, making sure everything is OK. Then, I proceed with my activities…everything from cooking demonstrations, prepping special functions and events, creating new dishes with the team, expediting food during rush hours, ordering, follow up emails…there are not enough hours in the day sometimes!
Amy: Where do you look for inspiration as you create new dishes for the menu?
Chef Mel: It is all about passion. I’m very passionate about what I do; I have been doing it for more than 25 years. It has become natural, especially when I am surrounded by so much amazing product. There are so many amazing growers who provide us with colorful produce – we work with a local dairy, and now even [source] local meats with Cedar River. The popularity of the farm-to-table concept makes it so easy to create a phenomenal dish.
Amy: What keeps you motivated?
Chef Mel: My kids! I have two fantastic sons who keep me inspired. Both are high achievers at school, which I believe is very important. I spend a few hours with them and make them breakfast every day to get them ready for the school day ahead. My team also keeps me motivated. I have a very strong and dedicated team who works hard every day. They are open and receptive to any changes and even crazy new ideas that I bring to them!
Amy: If you could have unlimited supply of any ingredient (produce, protein, spice, etc.), which would it be?
Chef Mel: Produce, because there is so much you can do with it. I can’t eat protein every day, but even if I become vegetarian, I can be so creative and utilize produce in so many aspects.
Amy: Who would be your dream diner?
Chef Mel: Charlize Theron. She is very cool and from what I understand, she is foodie.
Amy: If you hadn’t become a chef, what would you be doing right now?
Chef Mel: I’d probably be a dentist!
Amy: Favorite comfort food?
Chef Mel: I love chicken wings or a great homemade burger. I also love a simple potato risotto or ravioli.
Amy: 5 ingredients that are always in your home kitchen/pantry?
Chef Mel: Deli meats, iceberg lettuce, pepper jack cheese, haricot verts and pancake mix, because I prepare breakfast every day for the kids (and lunch!).
Amy: Most adventurous food you’ve ever eaten?
Chef Mel: I cooked and ate lion leg. It was so wild and gamey, that I will never try it again.
Amy: Any favorite local restaurants?
Chef Mel: Café Bink is great for casual, yet inventive. My kids love Jade Palace at Pinnacle Peak and Scottsdale Road and also JJ’s Delicatessen for breakfast (used to be Kashman’s).
To learn more about Chef Mel Mecinas, the resort and its restaurants, visit fourseasons.com/scottsdale