In 1991, Chef Don attended the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts, while incorporating an internship with the Ritz Carlton, Cleveland. Much of Chef's professional kitchen experience and classic French culinary training came during the four and a half years he spent there. Afterward, Chef was a Garde Manger Cook in a 4 star/4 diamond hotel, fine dining a la Carte Sous Chef and a Banquet Sous Chef.
Moving to Phoenix led to stints as Banquet Chef at the Ritz Carlton, Phoenix and Chef de Cuisine at Phantom Horse Grill (Pointe South Mountain Resort).
Chef Don openly admits he "fell in love with Arizona." And with it everything 'southwest.'
Cooking 'in the season' comes naturally to Chef – hence his partnerships with local farms and farmers whose products he seeks out and working relationships he cherishes. His passion for in-the-home flavors and cooking styles are foundational to the new restaurant concept – Asadero Cocina + Cantina.
It was 2003 when Chef took the culinary reins at DoubleTree by Hilton Paradise Valley - Scottsdale. It was here he expanded his management talents. An active member since 2010 of the Corporate Culinary Counsel, Chef has been instrumental in developing the future direction of Food & Beverage for DoubleTree by Hilton worldwide.
How about the local community? Chef enjoys participating in charity events both past and present including:
- Forks and Corks
- AZ Wine & Dine
- Boys and Girls Club of Phoenix
- Taste of Paradise
- Flavors of Phoenix (three-time award winner)
Why, he even makes an occasional local television appearance when asked!
His 13-year (and counting) culinary management and mentoring style bespeaks a kitchen staff equally dedicated to and focused on providing diners the best culinary experience each and every visit. With a long-standing commitment to quality of products, sauces, proper seasoning – true to what each cook is preparing.
Does he believe in culinary evolution? For sure. Chef's challenge for him and his team is to buck the status quo, question everything culinary and find a better, newer way when appropriate. Being fresh isn't just about the food. It's about the food and what they do with it.
Asadero Cocina + Cantina diners can experience it for themselves.
Does Chef Don have any personal Asadero Cocina + Cantina menu favorites? Indeed he does! From the breakfast menu - Chilaquiles and Tres Leche French Toast. From the lunch menu - PV Turkey Sandwich and Old Town Cheese Steak. And among his diner favorites are the Braised Short Rib and Scallop & Shrimp Vera Cruz. Home come? Because of the preparations and/or the unique twists on the sauces. Occasionally for the actual presentation.