Jeremy Pacheco of Lon's on Nobuo and the Trend That's Finally Going Away
Buchanan Jeremy Pacheco
Lon's at the Hermosa
5532 N. Palo Cristi Road, Paradise Valley
This is part one of my interview with Jeremy Pacheco, executive chef of Lon's and the Hermosa Inn. Come back Tuesday when Pacheco dishes about one of his most embarrassing moments in the kitchen.
Jeremy Pacheco has never been afraid of work. As the son of a Marana cotton farmer, he grew up pulling weeds in 110-degree heat. But when he was 16 and wanted a car, he decided to try his hand at restaurant work, taking his first gig as a dishwasher at a Sheraton in Tucson. He tried front-of-the-house work for about a minute but soon learned he "didn't like people too much," so the chef brought him back to the kitchen, where Pacheco started cleaning shrimp and plating salads.
Buchanan Pacheco with squash blossoms from Pat Duncan and Bob McClendon
After high school, he had just enough experience to land a job as lead cook at the Last Territory in the Sheraton El Conquistador, where he says his knuckles were continuously covered in blisters from flaming steaks all night long. Pacheco was going to community college ("taking Spanish and fooling around"), when another Last Territory cook left to go to culinary school, something Pacheco didn't even know existed. He did a little research, enrolled at SCI in Scottsdale and landed a full-time gig at The Terrace at the Phoenician. Never mind that SCI recommended part-time work. Pacheco went full throttle -- days, nights, whenever they needed him -- until a position for tournant sous chef (the guy who can handle every station) opened and other Terrace staffers encouraged Pacheco to apply. He was just finishing culinary school, won the position, and was thrown into a three-meal restaurant offering a lavish Sunday brunch and 24-hour room service. It was a trial by fire.
But two old-school European chefs -- Terrace chef de cuisine Ernst Springhorn and Phoenician executive chef Peter Hoefler -- took Pacheco under their collective wing, mentoring him between occasional rounds of golf. When Starwood started putting the squeeze on the Phoenician in 2005, Pacheco moved on, landing a gig at SW Steakhouse at the Wynn in Las Vegas. Pacheco remembers they were doing 500 to 700 covers a night and the preparations were impossibly elaborate considering the volume, but he was working with talented people (David Walzog, for one, the guy who literally wrote the book on steakhouses) and he stayed on for three years.
5532 N. Palo Cristi Road, Paradise Valley, AZ