Tag Archives: Scottsdale

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu Sauce

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu Sauce

The world is full of great food and chefs – we only need to open our tastebuds to them. For instance, at Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse, at The Phoenician, a Starwood property, French-born Executive Chef Jacques Qualin may be the area’s only stove helmer to have worked at four Michelin restaurants – two in France and two in New York – a very rare distinction. If you are a sports fan, it’s like saying you played soccer with Manchester United and Real Madrid; then moved to the United States, and played baseball with the Yankees and Mets.

Qualin, like many chefs, started cooking with his mother, tying his apron strings and sticking close to her, learning about food from the region of his birthplace, Franche-Comté, home to Comte and Emmenthaler cheeses. As a young cook, he traveled to Paris, where he studied under Michelin-rated chef Michel de Matteis, working at his three-star Restaurant Taillevent, defined by The New York Times as “the best in Paris, if not all of France.” Several other kitchens later, including working for Daniel Boulud in New York at the world famous Le Cirque, Qualin worked again in Paris as at the cosmopolitan Restaurant La Marée, before working with his friend Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Jojo’s on East 58th Street as the culinary great’s first sous chef.

After closing his seventy seat restaurant in upstate New York, The French Corner, The New York Times reviewer said, “(Qualin) created a unique and wonderful restaurant…delightfully rustic and complex all at once.” Vongerichten asked him about working together again, this time in Phoenix. He says, “I had been in France and New York City for fourteen years and I was looking for opportunities to come to the West Coast.”

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu SauceWorking in the Valley of the Sun, Qualin now defines himself as a “Frenchman who cooks with an Asian flair,” speaking to Vongerichten’s penchant for European and Asian cuisine. He says about working at J& G Steakhouse, a long distance from European Michelin restaurants, “I like good food and I like the brasserie-style we have at J&G. It’s a different restaurant than before, but it’s a steakhouse. I like that.”

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu Sauce

How long have you been cooking?
I have been cooking as far back as I can remember, I have loved cooking my whole life.

What is your favorite food to cook?
I get very excited when I see or find a product that looks pristine in quality and freshness, and that’s the way the flavors will come out the best. French cooking is my soul, Italian my guilty pleasure, and I like all Asian types of cooking.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
I love hot sauce, so I always have good selections from wacky hot to mild. French mustard is a must too and fresh herbs.

What do you cook at home?
Everything from a six course tasting for my friends, to a simply grilled fresh fish. I do like to do some classical French dishes that remind me my childhood or some Asian dishes, like a Pad Thai.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
To be open to try new things and flavors.

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu Sauce

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
I used all of them, but I tend to go back to Pyrex as it’s PBA free and can take extreme heat or cold, such as liquid nitrogen.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
All of them! Depending on the mood and the occasion or the food. I love to start with a ginger margarita or a crafted beer and wine (red or white), with a preference to the old world.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Many of them! I do have quite a extensive collection, from old traditional French cookbooks to the latest trends in cooking.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Cake tasters are very helpful for checking the food.

Your favorite ingredient?
Hard to say; there are too many I like, from yuzu to ginger or mint.

Your least favorite ingredient?
Fish sauce.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Not doing anything in the kitchen.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu SauceBeef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
All, I like a nice Prime beef grilled to perfection, Milk feed Chicken roasted whole, Smoked and Braise Pulled pork sandwich with Habanero sauce, or seared tofu with a cilantro pesto.

Favorite vegetable?

Chef you most admire?
Hard to pick because there are so many. Maybe Francis Mallman, as I like his philosophy of cooking and being genuine to the product.

Food you like the most to eat?
I like perfectly cooked pastas, Miruguai sashimi, fresh line-caught fish, and flavorful soups.

Food you dislike the most?

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
None, not into that at all.

Recipe: Roasted Whole Snapper Citrus and Garlic with Yuzu sauce

i8tonite with Scottsdale’s J&G Steakhouse Chef Jacques Qualin & Recipe for Roasted Whole Snapper with Yuzu Sauce

For the Yuzu Mayonnaise
3 each Egg yolks
1 tsp Salt
2 oz Yuzu juice
1 oz Lemon juice
1 oz Orange juice
1/2 qt Grape seed oil

Combine all but the oil in the robot coupe and drizzle in the oil to emulsify. Put in a siphon and charge with 2 cartridges.(soda)

Roasted Snapper:
1 pc Snapper 1.2# deboned from the inside and still attached and scored.
3 slices of Yuzu
3 slices of oranges
6 slices of fresh Ginger
1 tbsp. cilantro picked and chiffonade
1 tbsp. mint picked and chiffonade
6 slices of Serrano peppers
15 g garlic sliced ¾ inch
½ cup Olive oil

Season the fish with salt on all sides, arrange all the slices and the herbs evenly inside the fish. In a Dover plate, pour the oil and the garlic in the bottom then lay the fish on it, baste with the olive oil. Cook in the oven at 375 F for 10 min, basting it often. When almost cooked, finish under the broiler to get a nice brown color while basting. Drain ¾ of the oil, leaving the garlic inside.

To serve:
1 pc of fancy lemon
1 small bunch of cilantro
On a big black plate, fold a white napkin squared, put the hot plate on it. Add the lemon and cilantro and cover with the lid, serve the Yuzu mayonnaise on the side.
– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite with Chef Mel Mecinas: Executive Chef, Four Seasons Scottsdale and Chicken Posole, Oaxacan-style

Chef MelFour Seasons Executive Chef Mel (full name Meliton) Mecina’s story is the stuff of American dreams. Currently, overseeing the five kitchens of the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North and its culinary staff, Mecinas is a self-taught chef. He unwittingly followed in the footsteps of many well-known kitchen individuals who never attended a formal cooking school; internationally known chefs such as LA’s Suzanne Goin (Lucques, AOC), Tom Colicchio (Craft, judge on “Top Chef”), and British cooking phenomenon Jamie Oliver and the late Charlie Trotter.

Talavera. Photo courtesy of Four Seasons.
Talavera. Photo courtesy of Four Seasons.

In 1987, an 18-year-old Mecinas followed his father from Oaxacaand worked in the prep area of a Los Angeles chain restaurant, washing dishes.  Graduating to kitchen prep (i.e. chopping lettuce) after several years, Mecinas applied for a kitchen position at famed chef’s Joachim Spilchal’s Patina prior to opening. It was paying out another fifty cents more per hour than his current employment.

After being hired, Mecinas quickly realized his personal desire to beTomato Salad a chef, not just another worker chopping mise-en-place. And so, he pursued the calling with vigor under the tutelage of Splichal, known as one of North America’s great French culinary technicians.  Mecinas apprenticed and soaked up food information. He was so eager to learn the craft of cookery that Mecinas often came to work two to three hours ahead of schedule, getting his station in order. Once he finished, he would watch and learn from other chefs in Splichal’s kitchen as well.

Proof. Photo courtesy of Four Seasons.

It was truly an auspicious start and for almost a decade Patina taught him well. Other opportunities began to arise for Mecinas which included the Four Seasons. He started working with the luxury hotelier in Los Angeles and eventually headed to Santa Barbara.  It was at the latter where Mecinas cooked one of the courses for the late Julia Child on her 90th birthday, a very special career moment.

TalaveraOver the past nine years, Mecinas has become the culinary spokesperson for Four Seasons Resorts Scottsdale at Troon North. It’s difficult for even the most accomplished chefs to highlight one gastronomic character of their restaurant. With finesse, Mecinas manages to discuss several epicurean personalities from an al fresco poolside dining stage, a casual American fare complete with pretzel knots to a signature steakhouse that brings in the area’s residents. His cooking and affable personality are highlighted in food stories from the Arizona Republic,  Phoenix New Times and Phoenix Magazine. Lastly, in August, he returned from a whirlwind media tour cooking in New York City and at the famed James Beard House. Mecinas kitchen skills are not only a showcase for the resort but also for Phoenix’s food scene.  As Mecinas star gains momentum, so will Arizona on our nation’s stage about great food.

Chef’s Questionnaire: 

PRINT -- USE Proof! (183 of 305)How long have you been cooking? 28 Years.

What is your favorite food to cook? Gnocchi, you can add almost any herb or spice to it – I love that it is a blank canvas.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? OJ, haricot vert, pickles, Greek yogurt, tortillas, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, garlic — all the items needed to spice up a dish.

Image result for greek yogurt

What do you cook at home? Everything! I am not a chef who only cooks at work. I love to cook everything even when I am home with my family. I’m in the kitchen, and my wife does all the things around the house —  I am so thankful for that type of teamwork. I wouldn’t be successful without her.

For breakfast, I’ll make chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, enfrijoladas or French toast, but I’ll admit that when I’m tired, the family eats cereal!

I’ve made lunch for my son since first grade, so I still love to do that. It has sentimental value to me.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? I love when guests come in the door excited to try something new and have an open mind to their dining experience. When guests order our 6-course “Taste of Talavera,” and say, “I’ll let the chef decide what I eat tonight” – that is what I love.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? Customers are all unique and have different needs and expectations, which I always strive to exceed. It is disappointing when guests feel like we did not try to give them the best dining experience. A lot of hard work and passion goes into each dish and sometimes guests don’t see that. But it does provide good motivation – we just try harder next time!

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?  Pyrex

Beer, wine or cocktail?  Most of the time, I drink wine. Every now and again, I drink a Negroni.

Your favorite cookbook author? Michel Bras from Laguiole, France.


Your favorite kitchen tool?  A sharp knife and my heart (you have to cook with your heart).

Your favorite ingredient? Salt (if the food has no salt there is often no flavor) – it is a delicate balance.

Your least favorite ingredient? Turmeric.

 Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Sit in my office doing office work. I want to be on my feet in the kitchen with my team.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Besides Mexican, I love Spanish, French, Italian and anything with Asian flavor.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu?  All of it!

Favorite vegetable?  Avocado.

Chef you most admire?  Charlie Trotter.

Food you like the most to eat?  Salami, cheese, olives – I prefer salty and savory over sweet.

Food you dislike the most?  Brain (Mostly used in tacos, luckily very few places use it!)

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? None, which is rare among chefs these days! I would like to get one in the future, but I’ll have to personally design it.

Mel Mecina’s Chicken Pozole, Oaxacan Style Yield: 8 servings


  • 4  Large diced chicken breast
  • 2 lbs tomatoes
  • 1 quart of water
  • ½ medium white onion
  • 3 each of dried gualillo chiles
  • 5 each of chile de arbol,  toasted
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 3 cups hominy
  • 2 cups green cabbage, finely julienne
  • 2 cups thinly slice radish
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 cup minced red onions
  • 2 limes cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup of oil
  • Salt and Pepper

 Broth. Put the tomatoes, seeded guajillo and chile de arbol into sauce pot with some water to cover. Cook over medium heat until soft. Transfer to a blender. Add the onions and garlic. Puree to a textured sauce.

 Chicken. Heat the oil in a large sauce pot. Add the chicken and sear for a few minutes. Add the tomato-chile puree and the remaining water. Bring to a boil. Add the hominy. Season with salt and pepper. Let simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes.

Serving. Pozole is a traditional Mexican dish that will be a showcase on any festive occasion. The recipe and ingredients differ according to Mexican regions and states. The garnish might be the same as traditional condiments served on the side: julienned cabbage, radishes, cilantro, onions, and lime.

The End. Go Eat.