Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, AZ & a Recipe for Grilled New York Steak with Ranchero Mac & Cheese
Prior to our dinner that evening at the resort’s award-winning signature restaurant Talavera, we met with Executive Chef Mel Mecinas. A 14-year veteran with the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Mecinas is a classically French trained chef who combines French techniques with his Mexican heritage to create the contemporary Southwestern menu at Talavera. Very busy year-round, this restaurant is also quite popular with local residents in the Scottsdale area.
With a menu that is focused primarily on steak and seafood, Mecinas is very thoughtful about where his products come from and he sources his grassfed beef from local Cedar River Farm. He also purchases sustainable fish and seafood for the resort, with his Ahi Tuna flown in from Hawaii. Mexican prawns are one of Chef’s favorite ingredients and appear nightly on the menu. Caught fresh in Mexico and shipped just over the border, they are larger and meatier than Gulf Coast or California shrimp and entirely different in flavor. They are extraordinary in a dish that is prepared with grilled lemon, chili, and lemon-caper butter.
Sunizona Family Farms, located about 3 1/2 hours south of Scottsdale in Wilcox, AZ, supplies the resort with some of the produce used in the kitchens, particularly tomatoes, jalapeños, and asparagus. Veganically grown (with both vegan and organic methods), Chef Mecinas is working with the farm to grow more of their products in the future. As is true with most larger properties, many small farms have a difficult time keeping up with the demand for product, but Mecinas is committed to Sunizona and several other local farmers and works closely with them.
Living in the desert creates obvious farming challenges, the least of which is the wild animals. Chef Mecinas would like to incorporate a demonstration garden on property but says, “I’m realistic. I’m not going to depend on that farm for the resort. What I do want is to build the knowledge of raising product with my team. My dad was a farmer in Mexico. Everything we ate was from our farm. It was totally organic and we didn’t use any fertilizers. We grew peppers, tomatoes, raised goats and chickens. I want my team to understand what it takes to grow these vegetables, to have them ripen on the vine and then pick them. So many of the products out there, like Roma tomatoes, are picked green and then they ripen on a truck. We even made tortillas by hand when I was younger. To this day, people still grind the corn and make them by hand in the mountains in Mexico.”
Mecinas went on, “When I joined the Four Seasons and came to this property, people wanted authentic Southwest cuisine and flavors. That was the highlight of this region. I brought some of the traditional Mexican flavors that people may not have been as familiar with; dishes my mother would make, such as a lamb shank braised with avocado leaves in a Mole Negro. While delicious, if people aren’t familiar with these flavors, they may not order it. That’s one reason I like to bring guests in and talk about the food, things like fois gras and octopus. If they understand it and try it, they usually will like it.”
It didn’t take much coaxing for us to try, and to like, the dishes we had at Talavera that evening, which were paired with some lovely wines. Opting for a few tastes and small plates for several courses before the main dish selections, we thoroughly enjoyed the perfectly prepared Spiced Ahi Tuna with Haricot Vert and Fennel Salad with an Apricot Gastrique and the richness of the local Filet of Beef with a Horseradish Crust and accompanying Marsala Mushrooms. The warm glow of the dining room while watching the fires burning outside on the patio in the chimenea was the perfect setting for a memorable evening.
Chef Mecinas told us to come back in the springtime when the cactus are in bloom. “There are incredible colors with bright yellows, pinks, and reds. You need to visit in March and April. It’s just beautiful.” I can’t imagine anything much better than visiting the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North as we did in September, but we may have to take him up on that suggestion and make a return visit in the spring. I’m sure the temperatures are ideal and we’ll be ready for the never ending sunshine in Arizona after a long, cold winter in this part of the country.
Chef Mecinas has shared a recipe for his Grilled New York Steak with Ranchero Mac and Cheese. We prepared this recipe for a late dinner a few evenings ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Since it was very dark by the time we ate, we didn’t photograph the dish. If possible, purchase local beef for your New York Steak. The recipe for the mac and cheese is excellent, spicy, and full of decadent flavors. Rich and cheesy with a bit of heat from the Pepper Jack and Poblano pepper, we loved the addition of chorizo and caramelized onions. This is perfect fall comfort food to warm you up on a chilly evening. Close your eyes, take a bite, and let this dish take you to the Southwest with its unique flavors and envision this extraordinary part of Southern Arizona.
Grilled New York Steak with Ranchero Mac & Cheese
4 8-ounce New York Strip Steaks
Pinch fresh thyme
2 Poblano chiles, roasted, seeded and 1/4 inch dice
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup Small dice Dry Aged Spanish Chorizo
1/2 cup chopped, caramelized onions
8 ounces Tubetti pasta or elbow macaroni
1/3 pound Pepper Jack cheese, grated
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1 cup Cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
For Mac & Cheese:
In a large sauce pot, bring the cream to a boil and add the two cheeses and simmer it in a low heat for about couple minutes or until the cheese is completely melted. Combine the Chorizo, roasted pepper, caramelized onions with the cheese mix and cook it for a few minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain well. Add the pasta to the mixture, along with chopped Cilantro. Stir well and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Rub the steak with olive oil and a pinch of fresh chopped thyme. Grill the New York Steak to a medium rare or to your preference and served with the Ranchero Mac & Cheese.
Executive Chef Mel Mecinas
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
Disclosure – The Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale provided a media package for our visit. I was not asked to write any articles about my stay and have in no way been compensated. The opinions expressed regarding our experience are my own.
* Note – Photos with an asterisk are the property of the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale and have been used with their permission.
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