Trendsetter To Know: Dustin Cooke of Riot Hospitality Group

Name: Dustin Cooke


Instagram: @dustincookes & @riothospitalitygroup 


Age: 36

Title: Culinary Director at Riot Hospitality Group

Married/Single: Married 

Kids: 4 children- Ages 12, 11, 11 and 5- irish triplets 

City you live in: Surprise, Arizona

A typical day in my life includes… Weekdays are spent getting the kids ready for school and dropping them off with lunches packed and then head into the Riot office. I spend my weekdays with our chefs and cooks in the restaurants tasting the food and developing team members. 

I was born… I grew up in Temecula, California as a skater kid before moving to San Diego and then Phoenix.  

My favorite thing about Arizona… I love the Lake and beach life. I consider myself a ‘water folk’ and the best things for me are sunshine and water which luckily Arizona has plenty of. 

I’m listening to… I stay on the JRE podcast and mix in Bryce Vine, Morgan Wallen and Iration. 

If I could have dinner with anyone, it would be… Wait… living or dead… My culinary idol is Anthony Bourdain. I always related to his point of view as coming up in a crazy restaurant world and coming out the other side with a perspective on life that makes you a little crazy and a lot passionate for the craft.  

One thing I cannot live without… Tacos!!!! Oh and my family. 🙂 In that order though. My kids are my inspiration and, unfortunately for them, my food testers. Most of the time if a recipe shows its head in a restaurant, it has been vetted by a household of kids.

When I was younger, I wanted to be… I’m still younger! But when I grow up I still want to be enjoying as much of life as possible. I am hoping that my kids will save the oceans, the planet and then the world. As long as I get to see than that will be a life fulfilled. 

I’m inspired by… I am inspired by everything. The hard, thankless work of the chefs and cooks that I have worked with keeps me inspired. I have eaten the best wives and madres meals over my career and the simple delicious food has always inspired me. Inspiration is everywhere and I love finding it wherever I can.

The one person who motivates me is… My wife and children keep me motivated. They like nice things, so I have to try and get my act together to keep up with them.

If I could change anything in the world, it would be…

Fishing practices around the globe. Poor regulations has led us down a rabbit hole that will be tough to get out of. With over 70% of planet covered in water there are so many opportunities for us to positively impact the oceans and help bring back some of the populations that have taken such a huge hit.

The perfect day would be… A day in Carlsbad with my family. The perfect day is spent all day on the beach with a cooler, some boogie boards while making sandcastles and eating tacos from Senor Grubby’s. 

My first job was… My first job was actually for my dad in a furniture store as a delivery driver. I was 16 and had to drive the truck because the other driver had gotten his license revoked. My dad was so hard on me and never wanted “the bosses kid” to seem favored so I got the worst of it but it developed a work ethic that followed me throughout the various kitchens over my life.

My favorite escape… Puerto Penasco, Mexico- my family and I spend time there every summer. Sometimes we enjoy the hotel life with the pool luxuries and sometimes we rock the Air BnB’s near the beach to grill out and enjoy some slow days away from life.

I’m currently working on… We have big things in the works at Riot. All of our brands are growing, evolving and have exciting things in the future. My current focus is the El Hefe Scottsdale menu and making sure that it stakes a claim a local spot to enjoy simple and delicious Mexican food with a cocktail in hand.  

Always… Push the boundaries. You never know your limits if you don’t push and even when you reach the edge you find out it’s round and the only limits you have are yourself.

Never… Feed the wildlife or touch the thermostat. These are pieces of wisdom that should never be tested.

Favorite Quote… “Greatness and madness are next door neighbors and they often borrow each other’s sugar.” -Joe Rogan

Biggest Dream… I always wanted to retire on a lake in the woods with a fleet of boats, a pool and an outdoor an epic grilling space. 

My Pet Peeve(s)… Put it back where it goes! Everything has a space and everything goes back in its place. I hate losing things and keeping life organized really diminishes that possibility. 

More About Dustin Cooke:
Riot Hospitality Group recently hired Dustin Cooke as their new Culinary Director. Dustin now oversees culinary management and menu creation for Riot’s award-winning concepts including Farm & Craft, Hand Cut Burgers + Chophouse, Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, El Hefe and Riot House. 

Over the past two decades, Dustin has gained his culinary experience by working in restaurants in San Diego, Phoenix and Scottsdale as an Executive Chef, Sous Chef and Culinary Director. His vision as a chef focuses on incorporating local and sustainable elements while staying playful with his creations. His “out of the box” creative twists have even led to him becoming a highly decorated taco festival winner. 

 Dustin’s position with Riot Hospitality Group has allowed him to create amazing food that excites guests across all their concepts. He recently rolled out new menu items at Hand Cut and Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row in Gilbert, as well as elevated the existing menu at Farm & Craft.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts