A couple months ago at a local food event I met the chef of the Granada Bar and Grill at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Scottsdale. At an event with dozens of the best local restaurants and chefs sampling their goods, the Granada stood out. Their offerings were superb, the presentation remarkable. I introduced myself to the man behind it all, Chef John du Toit and we’ve kept in touch.
Recently, du Toit invited me to visit his kitchens at The Granada to hang out, laugh and of course, eat! This was my first time in a commercial kitchen and it was interesting to see the back end of how it all works. I love to cook but seeing it done like this was daunting, and obviously hard work.
At Granada they are butchering their own meat, something I had never done before. Chef du Toit assigned me to the task and put me to work slicing off silver skin, cutting through tendon, and removing fat to create perfect filets and ribeyes.
Not to toot my own horn but I caught on pretty quick — must have been because I had such a good teacher.
The atmosphere of Granada’s kitchen was high energy, fast paced and at times stressful as the dining room filled up. Mingled into the orchestrated chaos was lots of joking, laughing and good-natured ribbing amongst the staff. The camaraderie was evident, it felt like family.
When I was done with the steaks, Chef put me to work slicing bread for the “soup croutons.” And those weren’t just any croutons but crostini piled high with cheese and pulled roasted chicken and baked, more like an open faced sandwich to dip into the soup of the day.
My mouth was watering by the time I got those babies out of the oven and I was ready for a bowl of soup with one of my freshly-made croutons.
Chef obliged and I was in heaven. The soup was warm and delicious, the accompanying crostini rounded it out as a hearty, comforting meal, which is the best way to describe the entire menu at Granada, elevated comfort food. You will find familiar favorites with a gourmet twist.
After sampling the soup, chef had me prepare my own meal, under his watchful eye and with the help of executive sous chef, Justin Olsen.
I grilled one of the perfectly cut ribeyes to medium rare and made myself some mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts (just kidding, I watched as Justin made it all for me). I gotta tell you, that Justin has a way with brussels sprouts. He naughties the innocent veggies up with heavy cream, parmesan and bacon and they are absolutely spectacular…and unfortunately not on the menu! But ask nicely when you visit Granada and maybe you’ll get lucky.
After a few hours in the kitchen I was wiped out, full of great food, and my cheeks were sore from smiling so much. I also gained a greater respect for chefs, cooks and waitstaff. As a dining customer you simply have to choose what you want to eat, and at any good restaurant the plate that is ultimately set before you is made with care and love. I got a behind the scenes look at what’s going on in Granada’s kitchen and there’s lots of care and love there. A happy, slightly dysfunctional, family who cares about each other and love the food they are putting out.
Thanks for welcoming me into your kitchen Chef du Toit!