AZ Wine & Dine Chef Chat: Chris Neff

JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa, Chef's @Lincoln Restaurant PHXCB

To celebrate Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association’s upcoming AZ Wine & Dine, taking place April 13 at Scottsdale Quarter from 5 to 8 p.m., let’s meet some of the fest’s participating chefs. Today, please meet Executive Chef Chris Neff of Lincoln at JW Marriott Camelback Inn Scottsdale

What are your favorite resort restaurants in the Valley or otherwise? Kai at Wild Horse Pass. Chef Ryan is putting together some very incredible food utilizing a lot of indigenous ingredients. The Nomad in New York City. Daniel Humm’s Michelin-starred restaurant is not one to miss while in the Big Apple.

When people are choosing a vacation or staycation destination, how do you think the resort’s restaurant factor into their plans? I believe nowadays it may be the biggest factor or a close second to having a great pool and recreation area. When traveling whether for business or pleasure, you want to be able to eat great food, get a good night’s rest, and relax. Not having to drive around to get that makes it convenient.

Many hotels are focusing packages on food adventures. Why is this so popular? With cooking becoming more and more popular with all the great restaurants and celebrity chefs, people want to pick up a few skills themselves. I’m working on a package right now where I’d take a group of guests down to the farmers market and show them how I choose produce. Then come back to the hotel and do a cooking class with the ingredients we picked up at the market.

Many incredible chefs got their start at a hotel restaurant. Why are hotels such a breeding ground for talent? I got my start in a hotel restaurant. What I find great about them is they are usually 24-hour operations with multiple restaurants and catering kitchens so you can learn faster in one hotel just by moving from kitchen to kitchen every few months.

What are your hopes for resort restaurants in the future? I’d love to see more hotel restaurants get some love from the James Beard awards.

This event is 21-plus and sells out every year, so secure tickets today at AZWineandDine.com.

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