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Food Scene Updates from Arizona

Find out who is helping open new properties and providing culinary vision for hotel restaurants

By Beth Buehler

There is a lot happening regarding food scene updates for Arizona, especially in Sedona, Phoenix, and Scottsdale.

Willows Kitchen & Wine Bar, a new dining option at Poco Diablo Resort in Sedona, is under the direction of executive chef and director of food and beverage Christopher Medina. The restaurant features eclectic, from-scratch American fare with a comprehensive selection of wines. Lobster risotto, an assortment of flatbreads, Firecracker Shrimp Wraps, and Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with house-made blueberry syrup is a sampling of menu items. The resort has 8,500 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space.

Willows Kitchen & Wine Bar at Poco Diablo Resort, 2023
Willows Kitchen & Wine Bar CREDIT Poco Diablo Resort

Alessandro “Alex” Stratta, a two-Michelin star and James Beard Award-winning chef, has been selected to lead the culinary program at Fairmont Phoenix, scheduled to open downtown only a short walk from the Phoenix Convention Center in early 2025. The hotel will feature 225 guestrooms (including 34 suites), 151 Fairmont branded residences, and over 23,000 square feet of meeting space.

Stratta is creating the overall vision and menus for the five restaurants and bars, including an Italian coastal steakhouse, Mexican cantina, speakeasy, pool bar, and lobby bar. After opening, he will continue to lead the culinary teams and oversee all day-to-day food and beverage operations. Erik Segelbaum of SOMLYAY and GoodSomm wine club has been enlisted to craft the beverage program.

In Scottsdale, area resorts are attracting and keeping top culinary talent like Yulissa Acosta, the new chef de cuisine at Hearth ’61 restaurant at Mountain Shadows. On the Hearth ’61 scene from the very beginning, Acosta first joined the team in 2017 as a cook, helped open the restaurant, and quickly rose to sous chef in 2018. In her new role, Acosta will oversee menu creation and continued culinary development at Hearth ’61.

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North has named Jesus Figueroa as chef de cuisine for the property’s Spanish steakhouse, Talavera. Figueroa’s most recent role was as executive chef at etta, a concept created by Michelin-starred chef Danny Grant. He also opened Renata’s Hearth at Arizona Biltmore as executive chef.

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