Mel Mecinas of Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale on Joachim Splichal and What He Wants You to Know About Talavera
Courtesy of Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North Executive chef Mel Mecinas
Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North
This week, we're chatting with chef Meliton "Mel" Mecinas, executive chef at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon. As the resort's top chef, Mecinas oversees five kitchens and all the hotel's dining outlets including Talavera, the resort's upscale steakhouse, and the newly introduced Proof, a modern American canteen. Today, we learn about where the self-taught chef finds inspiration and don't forget to come back tomorrow when he tells us why he's always happy to share his recipes.
Mecinas' career began in 1986 when he got a job working with his father at a Chinese restaurant. He started at the absolute bottom of the kitchen hierarchy -- washing dishes - but after nine months was promoted to prep cook. He spent the next two years chopping lettuce before the opportunity of a lifetime came knocking on the door.
In 1989, a family friend tipped Mecinas and his three brothers about the soon-to-open Patina. No one knew then that the fine-dining French restaurant's founder and chef, Joachim Splichal, would go on to be named "Best California Chef" by the James Beard foundation or that the restaurant would go on to earn a Michelin star. All that Mecinas knew was that being a prep cook at Patina paid $5 an hour.
"So I said, 'Fifty cents more than I'm making? Okay, I'll take it.'"
He was the littlest "kid" in the kitchen, he says, and ended up doing odd jobs including driving the catering truck at times. More importantly, it was at Patina that Mecinas said he learned the basics of French culinary techniques. Splichal took the young Mecinas under his tutelage, at one point discouraging him from going to culinary school.
"He told me, 'Why waste all that money? If you really want to become a chef, just work harder.'"