Trading Places: Five Chef and Restaurant Switches We'd Like to See Happen in the Valley

Categories: Top Lists

After hearing that Chicago's Alinea and New York's Eleven Madison Park, two of the country's highly celebrated restaurants, will be trading chefs and staff for one week in the fall, it got us to thinking: What chef/restaurant switcheroos would we like to see in the Valley? Here are five we'd love to see happen. What would be yours?

Nikki Buchanan
Chef Kevin Binkley and Chef Mark Tarbell
5.) Kevin Binkley and Mark Tarbell
Chef Kevin Binkley of Binkley's and Cafe Bink in Cave Creek switches places With Chef Mark Tarbell of Tarbell's located in Central Phoenix.

Why This Trade?:
Binkley, a semifinalist tapped for this year's James Beard Award (Best Chef Southwest), is noted for his inventive cooking style and daily-changing menu. Tarbell, also a nominee for the James Beard Award (Best Chef Southwest), beat Cat Cora on Food Network's Iron Chef in 2007. How far is the drive between Phoenix and Cave Creek? Too long for some. Why not bring the award-winning cuisine to folks in both cities?

The Payoff:
Phoenix diners get Binkley's French-informed, modern American fare on a daily-changing menu including amuse-bouche creations that will leave them swooning. Cave Creek diners get Tarbell's exceptional contemporary American creations (double-cut pork chops, anyone?) made with fresh, organic ingredients and, a damn good glass of wine to go with them courtesy of the soft-spoken oenophile.

Donald Downes and Nikki Buchanan
Chef Matt Carter and Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza
4.) Matt Carter and Silvana Salcido Esparza
Chef Matt Carter, of The Mission, Zinc Bistro, and The House in Scottsdale switches places with chef Silvana Salcido Esparza of Barrio Cafe and Barrio Queen in Phoenix and Scottsdale. (The desired chef switch would be at The Mission and Barrio Queen.)

Why This Trade?:
In this cross-town switcheroo, Carter could focus his international culinary style on the cuisine of Mexico at Barrio Queen and Esparza could hone her "Euro-Mexican" fare (something she had planned for the now-defunct Silvana) as well as show off new dishes with a more modern take on Latin food at The Mission.

The Payoff:
Barrio Queen diners get Mexican food with Carter's globe-trotting touches -- and with any luck, they'll arrive in the form of shareable plates. Guests at The Mission get a taste of Esparza's travels throughout Mexico inspiring delectable dishes of Latin cuisine with some creative kicks in the ass. Everybody wins.

Location Info

Binkley's Restaurant

6920 E. Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Cafe Bink

36889 N. Tom Darlington Drive, Carefree, AZ

Category: Restaurant


3213 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Barrio Queen Tequileria

7114 E. Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Posh Improvisational Cuisine

7167 E. Rancho Vista Drive, Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Restaurant


7001 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Restaurant

FnB Restaurant

7125 E. 5th Ave., Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Beckett's Table

3717 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Christopher's Restaurant and Crush Lounge

2502 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Petite Maison

7216 E. Shoeman Lane, Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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