Nested among immense granite boulders, lush desert arroyos and beautiful stand of saguros is world renowned Chef Mel Mecinas Talavera at Four Seasons .I had the opportunity to interview Mel Mecinas one of Arizona’s most recognized chefs whom credits his abuelita’s kitchen in Oaxaca, Mexico with having a significant approach to his culinary journey of flavor innovations that will delight your palate with every bite, before our interview I sipped wine and feasted in jaw-dropping culinary creations while witnessing the beauty of Arizona’s picture perfect sunset.
I was treated to his version of Aguachile a traditional mexican dish that transports you to the coast of Sonora. He’s version was a perfect mix of spicy, sweet, fresh seafood served in a flawless presentation.
The entree was my favorite Seafood Paella with red sea shrimp which is larger , when cooked to perfection it has a nice reddish color and is delectable when blended with the paellas rich flavors.
As impressed as I was with Chef Mecinas cuisine, I was more so with his “sencillez” as we say en español, when I asked for a picture he said-” come to the kitchen after dinner.” I was honored as , I know that is where the magic begins, to my surprise he asked all his team and I mean all of the team to take a picture with us. Not only does he enrich Talavera’s guest with his culinary creations but most important is how he enriches the lives of his team and ultimately Chef Mecinas is making the world better one dish at a time.
If your passionate about the culinary world or just want to be a better cook here is Chef Mecinas advice for you.
Where did you grow up?
Born in Oaxaca and came to the US at age 16, grew up in Koreatown in LAWhat inspired you to become a chef?
Working with my father, a chef in his own right, as my first job in his restaurant. I was a dishwasher for 8 months and soon moved up to prep cook and then the pantry. Not until 1989 at Patina when I was surrounded with talented and inspiring Chefs did I realize that if I showed my dedication, passion, and work ethic, I would be able to realize my dream of becoming an Executive Chef.What is your favorite food memory?
Food inspires memories and is a full sensory experience. Whenever I go back to my hometown in Oaxaca, I taste the variety of pre-hispanic food, and flavors of my youth – always an absolutely amazing and inspiring experience.What is the most challenging ingredient to work with?
I’m sure there is an incredibly difficult ingredient some where, but I have not found it yet!! I really appreciate challenges at this point in my career and always view them as opportunities.What do you most love about your career?
I have reflected on that a lot recently and I am blessed to work in a place where I have the freedom to buy and cook anything I want. Chefs tend to do their best work when they are free of constraints and I am where I am today because I am free to cook and serve what I feel in my heart.What advice would you give to Latinos/as wanting to enter the culinary world?
In the culinary world, you can go to school whenever you want. But before you go to any culinary school, I highly recommend spending a few years in the kitchen. When you are young enough to work long hours and take in everything you see and hear and experience. Work in as many different places as you can. Get inspired and work hard. Many of the best chefs in the world started where you are and are happy to act as a mentor – don’t be afraid to ask and pursue your dreams! I did not have the opportunity to go to a culinary school, but I set my own goals and didn’t set any limitations on myself, everything is possible!!Talavera Four Seasons is located at in the beautiful and serene Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale, 10600 E Crescent Moon Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85262 and reservations are highly encouraged.