Meet Drew Anderson, the newly-appointed chef at Kai restaurant at Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass. The only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star restaurant in Arizona, Kai—which means “seed” in the Pima language—tells a story about local Native American culture through elite interpretations of Pima and Maricopa tribal cuisine. Read on to learn about Chef Anderson’s exciting plans to take Kai to the next level.
Please tell us a little bit about you and your culinary background.
Chef Anderson: I grew up in Minnesota and began my culinary career working in Minneapolis. From there I moved to Arizona. I worked under Charlene Badman at F&B before moving to Kai.
What are you looking forward to in your new role at Kai?
Chef Anderson: Being able to take the restaurant to new heights. Under Chef Ryan Swanson, I learned a lot about indigenous cuisine and am looking forward to continuing my education of the southwest.
How does Kai stay true to local Native American cuisine?
Chef Anderson: By utilizing local and indigenous ingredients through our local partnerships in the Valley and throughout all of Arizona.
Take us through the menu at Kai—Tell us about it.
Chef Anderson: The structure of the Kai menu is laid out much like life is. Currently, we are featuring a 7-course tasting menu with different sections laid out into the birth, the beginning, the journey, and the afterlife. The birth is structured to be lighter appetizers with the beginning being heavier, richer appetizers. From there we cleanse the palate with an intermezzo before arriving at the journey, which are our entree selections. From there we enter into the afterlife. The first course of the afterlife is our cheese selection before arriving at the final course and choice of the evening, dessert.
If you had to choose, what’s your favorite, can’t-miss dish at Kai?
Chef Anderson: Our signature dish is the Grilled Tenderloin of Tribal Buffalo and one dish that we are best known for. My favorite dish at the moment is the Braised Rabbit and Squash Gnocchi. This dish encompasses everything that is great about Kai, using the best local ingredients while showcasing different culinary techniques
What’s the greatest thing about being a chef?
Chef Anderson: Being able to nourish our guests and hopefully leave a lasting impression on them and their palates.
What is one unassuming ingredient every kitchen should have?
Chef Anderson: Koji
When you’re not cooking, where do you like to dine in the Valley?
Chef Anderson: Glai Baan
Please feel free to add anything else!
Chef Anderson: Come hungry!!!
Photos courtesy Kai at Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass