AZ Wine & Dine Chef Chat: Richard Hinojosa

chef rich h of wigwam
In preparation of this Thursday’s fifth-annual AZ Wine & Dine event, an upscale celebration of the region’s top resort restaurants taking place from 5 to 8 p.m. at Scottsdale Quarter, get to know a few of the participating chefs. Meet Richard Hinojosa of Litchfield’s at The Wigwam.
Restaurant name: Litchfield’s
Resort name: The Wigwam
What are your favorite resort restaurants, in the Valley and otherwise?  In the Valley, I am a fan of deseo at The Westin Kierland, elements at the Sanctuary, T. Cooks at the Royal Palms. Outside of AZ, I love Addison at The Grand Del Mar.
When people are choosing a vacation or staycation destination, how do you think the resort’s restaurant factor into their plans?  Depends on the type of vacation, but when it is a destination type resort/staycation, I think people are looking for a nice variety of options.  Figure if you are somewhere for 3 or 4 days, it’s nice to have a different experience each day.
Many hotels are focusing packages on food adventures. Why is this so popular?  People want to be more educated and involved in their food. I love this!  I feel like the days of just sitting down and enjoying a dish are gone.  Guests now want to know what the items are, where they came from, are they organic, is it sustainable, how else can it be cooked, what do you pair with it…
Many incredible chefs got their start at a hotel restaurant. Why are hotels such a breeding ground for talent?  For the most part, hotels are more dynamic operations than restaurants.  Most restaurants offer one type or style of cuisine, they have one kitchen.  The hotel that I started in, I got to see banquet production, pastry, garde manger, butchering, sauce and stock making, casual dining, and fine dining.  Working in large hotels and resorts, you get a well-rounded education, from there, you can hone in on the area that you are most passionate about.
What are your hopes for resort restaurants in the future?  When my career was just getting started, many of the best restaurants were in hotels and resorts. Several years later, hotel dining started to take on a bad reputation of serving ‘hotel food’, overpriced and underwhelming.  I feel like more hotels and resorts are trying to put more emphasis on their food and beverage programming.  My hope is to see hotel dining continue to raise the bar on originality and quality, and regain that old reputation of the best dining is hotel dining.

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