Local Chefs Lead Culinary Adventures

By local contributor
Susan Lanier Graham

Foodies are in for a treat with chef-led dining experiences in Scottsdale, which abound throughout the city. I love chatting with chefs and getting to know about their food passions. Here are a few of my favorite chef-led culinary adventures.


LON’s at The Hermosa Inn

The Hermosa Inn is an authentic Arizona luxury hideaway that was once the home of cowboy artist Lon Megargee. LON’s, the inn’s culinary masterpiece, is one of my favorite restaurants with one of the most magical patios ever—and a culinary team to match the settings.

Dining at LON’s is always an experience, but some of my fondest memories are when the inn’s culinary team partners with local and national chefs or winemakers for special events. Together, these culinary wizards share their passion for farm-fresh cuisine by preparing unique menus focusing on the best local and seasonal ingredients. 

Other special events held at LON’s throughout the year include cooking classes—the gingerbread house classes at the holidays are especially charming—and the cool summertime dinners in the wine cellar, where it is precisely 57 degrees. Prices vary depending on the events and there is always something amazing happening with the LON’s culinary team – check the website for the full schedule. 


Deseo at Westin Kierland Resort & Spa

Another great spot is at Deseo at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, where you can sit at “The Rail” and watch the chefs in action. Deseo, which means desire in Spanish, offers its Epicurean Experience every Thursday night featuring the restaurant’s fresh, flavorful “Nuevo Latino” cuisine.

The culinary adventure begins as the culinary team demonstrates two of the restaurant’s signature ceviche dishes paired with a mojito. After the ceviche, you begin your three-course dinner paired with South American wines. During dinner, the team answers questions about the food.

Some of my favorite dishes at Deseo include the ceviche served with liquid nitrogen popcorn. The cold crunchy popcorn is perfect with the soft, citrusy fish. The ceviches, as with most food at Deseo, is elegant yet simple.


Sushi Roku

Sushi Roku, located in the W Scottsdale, serves contemporary sushi along with dishes that blend Asian and international flavors. With such a diverse menu, the best way to experience it is by enjoying the Omakase dinner. Omakase, from the Japanese word meaning “I’ll leave it up to you,” does exactly that—leaves the menu up to the chef.

No two experiences are the same, but it is sure to be a memorable meal. My favorite dish when I experienced the Omakase was Fluke Kumquat Sashimi served with yuzu vinaigrette. The flavors were so fresh and clean and the bit of tartness with the yuzu spotlighted the delicate fish. The evening included delicious steamed shrimp dumplings and a sushi platter and concluded with a play on s’mores, complete with a tabletop fire pot, where we roasted our own marshmallows.


Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia

The culinary team at Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia hosts exclusive interactive dinners known as the Chef’s Kitchen Dinners. Kitchen Dinners showcase a visiting winemaker or distiller and take place in a space the resort created to make people feel as if they’re dining with friends. I love the outdoor patio surrounded by hand-cultivated herb gardens. The interior space is just as comfortable and personal, filled with mementos you might find in your own kitchen.

During Kitchen Dinners, diners watch the chefs prepare the meal in the open kitchen, each carefully choreographed to compliment the visiting winemaker’s or distiller’s selections and served family style.


ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho

Another fun chef-led eating adventure is at ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho in downtown Scottsdale. The culinary team at ZuZu features a monthly Monday Night Chef’s Table with wine pairings. It starts with passed appetizers and a drink. You’ll have a chance to meet the winemaker before tasting four courses of the chef’s food paired with the featured wines—and of course some delectable desserts.

There is also a Rooftop Beer Garden series that takes place on the eighth floor Sky Line Rooftop with gorgeous views over Scottsdale. The event includes different chef stations, with bites created to pair perfectly with the featured brew.

I have enjoyed both wine and beer dinners and love discovering the unique passions of the men and women who work to create amazing flavors. A true epicurean delight.