Mark Tarbell Dishes on Why Local Coffee Is Overrated and Shares the Best $9 Bottle of Wine

Mark Tarbell opening wine.jpg
Nikki Buchanan
Wine Guru Mark Tarbell Opening a Bottle

This is part two of my interview with Mark Tarbell, owner of Tarbell's in Phoenix and The Oven Pizza E Vino in Colorado. Part one of our interview with Mark Tarbell appeared Monday on Chow Bella.

How and when did you learn so much about wine: I was in wine school in Paris at age 19. But it all started with a couple of unfortunate experiences with MD 20-20, Boone's Farm, and Ripple. I thought, "There must be better than this!" And there was.

Most overrated ingredient: Local coffee. There are exceptions, such as R.O.C., but coffee beans are not from here. Roasting is both craft (honed by massive experience) and science. Selecting beans also is extremely difficult and complex. We should trust those who own and/or control the source in responsible ways and trust those with the best equipment and science behind the grinding and roasting. The best coffee is not burnt, green, or bitter. It's creamy, complex, deep, robust, and smooth. There. I've said it.

Most underrated ingredient: Fresh goat cheese and sheep's milk feta. I can easily power down a block of either one.

Name three things always found in your pantry/fridge: Chervil, interesting olive oils, and 18-month-aged Parmigiano-Reggiano.

The one food you never get sick of: Eggs -- all breakfast food, for that matter.

What would you tell an aspiring young chef going into the business: Don't. Then if that didn't work, I would tell them to work for three places that they view as the best. I would also say that there are benefits to working for a resort or hotel when young and building a career. You need to see and experience a tremendous amount to begin to understand who you are going to be when you stake your ground. It's an experiential trade, not a theoretical one.

What do we lack/need here in Phoenix: High-end Franco-Vietnamese cooking.

If you had $700 to spend on dinner for two, where would you go: Just for the memories, I'd go to Taillevent in Paris. Or take a picnic to the top of Four Peaks and pocket $650.

Location Info


3213 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

Local Coffee overrated?! this is bull~!it sounds like he was just doing a commercial for the ROC.. and has no idea what he's talking about.   Just because it's local does not mean that it's of bad quality. There are countless local roasters who know the science of coffee, and are involved in the supply chain.  Actually, local coffee is the most important factor in freshness.  If this idiot buys from out of state, then he should stick with his 2 week old beans, and keep dumping money into shipping.  Otherwise, someone should  put a cork in his mouth so he can't drop names like a typical scottsdale idiot. 


I like wine, and I can appreciate it... but I rarely spend more than $10 on a bottle. There just isn't much difference in my opinion. Last Christmas we had a $125 bottle of Merlot. It was good, don't get me wrong. But I can't justify spending much more than that for a bottle. I guess that will come with age, because I can see myself dropping $50+ on a bottle of beer! 

Now Trending

From the Vault