Continued (page 2 of 5)
Michelle hosts monthly wine dinners at Grapes where patrons get an education on pairing wine with food while dining on a four-course meal. The dinners at Grapes are limited to 45 people and consistently sell out. But it’s obvious that Pizzeria Bocce is truly Michelle’s baby at the moment. The restaurant, which opened last year, features wood-fired Napoli-style pizza. Michelle spent a summer in Naples where she became certified in the art of pizza by Verace Pizza Napoletana. She spent another six months perfecting the pizza at home. “We ate pizza every night, and we all gained 20 pounds,” she says, laughing. “I sent my husband all over Phoenix, looking for the right flour. Bocce has been my biggest challenge and my biggest reward.”
The Haunted Hamburger, 410 Clark St. in Jerome (928-634-0554)
Grapes Restaurant & Bar, 111 Main St. in Jerome (928-639-8477)
Nic’s Italian Steak & Crab House, 925 N. Main St. in Cottonwood (928-634-9626)
The Tavern Grille, 914 N. Main St. in Cottonwood (928-634-6669)
Pizzeria Bocce, 1060 Main St. in Cottonwood(928-202-3597)
Click here to download Chef Jurisin’s recipe for Braised Beef Roulade
David Schmidt: Che-Ah-Chi
Growing up in Wisconsin, David Schmidt will be the first to tell you that his parents were horrible cooks. Instead, David would go to his grandmother’s house after school, and they would cook together. “She made bread every day – I’m not sure why I didn’t become a pastry chef,” says David, laughing.
His mom encouraged him to attend culinary school, and when the entire family moved to Arizona, David enrolled in the Scottsdale Culinary Institute (now Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts – Scottsdale). He graduated in 1996. He cooked for several prestigious restaurants and resorts in Phoenix, including T. Cook’s at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa and Michael’s at the Citadel where he held his first executive chef position, before moving to Sedona in 2008. David served as the executive chef at L’Auberge on Oak Creek and Hundred Rox before accepting the executive chef position at Che-Ah-Chi at Enchantment Resort in February 2012.
Che-Ah-Chi, Enchantment’s signature restaurant, was undergoing extensive renovations when David came on board (the kitchen was an empty shell, he says), and he was tasked with creating a contemporary menu that would reflect the new interior design. David’s New American menu focuses on local ingredients; some of the produce comes from Enchantment’s on-site garden while the rest is sourced from Enchantment’s own local purveyor.
Aside from Che-Ah-Chi, David oversees the menus at the more casual – and more southwestern – Tii Gavo; the health-and-fitness focused Mii amo Café; and the tapas-style menu at the View 180 lounge. “At Che-Ah-Chi, I make several changes to the menu each week,” says David. “It depends on the product that I have received and what’s available. I want to make sure the menu stays fresh, and I like to challenge myself by cooking with new ingredients.”
David, who’s 36 and during our conversation was sporting purple Vans sneakers, is a big fan of the food philosophies of Napa Valley chefs. With the Verde Valley’s burgeoning wine industry, he sees something similar in Che-Ah-Chi’s future. The restaurant’s wine cellar boasts 650 labels and more than 12,000 bottles of wine. Kevin Maguire, director of food and beverage, says Enchantment has the largest selection of Arizona wine in Arizona. “The culinary scene is changing in Sedona,” says David. “There’s no reason we can’t be the next Napa.”
Che-Ah-Chi at Enchantment Resort, 525 Boynton Canyon Road (928-282-2900)
Click here to download Chef Schmidt’s recipe for Seared Diver Sea Scallops, Short-Rib Stuffed Saffron Pasta and Roasted Shallots with Parmigiano Cream