Four Seasons Scottsdale
Here’s my first-hand experience with Talavera’s fall menu created by Chef de Cuisine Emmanuel Urban at the Four Seasons Resort, Scottsdale.
Talavera is located in between Troon Mountain and Pinnacle Peak and is a contemporary Spanish steakhouse within the ICONIC Four Seasons in Scottsdale. The fan-favorite location recently released its Fall menu under the direction of the new Chef de Cuisine, Emmanuel Urban. Urban was Inspired by his heritage and challenges of the arid Arizona terrain for this menu. I had the opportunity to indulge in his work. It was truly an exciting experience.
Immediately when my co-worker and friend Emily McKenzie, Social Media and Marketing Coordinator at ICONIC LIFE Magazine walked into the restaurant within the Four Seasons in Scottsdale, we were greeted with the warm smile of chef Urban. He walked us into the wine room and shared the story of how he got to his position at the young age of 26.
“I was raised in Mexico City and went to one of the best culinary schools in Mexico. Because of the great contacts the school provided, I had the opportunity to do an internship in Barcelona, Spain. I trained at the two-Michelin Star restaurant, Disfrutar. I had a great experience and learned so much. After that, I came back to Mexico and began working for JW Marriott. I then moved to Denver and worked at the Mediterranean restaurant, Rioja under James Beard Award-winner, Jennier Jasinski.
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“When COVID-19 hit, I had to move. A contact from Rioja reached out to me about helping with a Mexican-Italian contemporary kitchen. I was all in. He asked me to be the Chef de Cuisine, this was the first time I had ever been in a management position and it taught me a lot. After two years, I felt I had gotten myself in a comfort zone, so I went to The Jacquard… One day, I saw a post of Talavera on Instagram and so I applied thinking nothing of it. One month later I received a call and after that everything went so fast. The next thing I knew I was hired as Chef de Cuisine here at Talavera,” Urban explains.
After learning about chef Urban and his journey, I was excited to try the creations he had to offer.
We were then taken to our table and seated at arguably one of the best tables Talavera has to offer. Sat beside glass panels that extend to the ceiling, a large fire pit was burning on the other side of the glass, with the view of both Troon Mountain and Pinnacle Peak on either side of us and the busy city of Scottsdale in the distance, we felt we had landed at the best seat in the house.
Within minutes, our cheerful server Catherine– vetted with more than 26 years of experience at the Four Seasons Resorts– came to introduce herself and take our drink order. She capitalized on the fleeting moment of the sunset and led us to the prime spot for photos. Emily and I were both taken back by the stunning view of the coral and rose sky and posed for our picture to be taken.
Chef Urban came to our table and presented the first small dish to awaken our taste buds and prepare us for the fantastic foods we would soon be experiencing. He presented us with two rice crackers with tomato powder, sun dried tomatoes, Pedro Ximenez vinegar and decorated with edible flowers.
Our second course of the evening consisted of two appetizers that packed completely different flavors: the first was pan con tomate, a bruschetta with a garlic spread, topped with heirloom tomatoes, virgin olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt all on locally sourced Noble bread. This appetizer was light and packed with flavor; I was surprised to find out it only consisted of four ingredients.
The second appetizer we tried was croquetas de jamon–one of chef Urban’s personal favorites– This dish was an amalgamation of textures that worked in harmony to create a symphony of flavor. From the creamy bechamel sauce surrounding the jamon serrano, to the crunchy breaded panko exterior topped with jamon bellota and aioli, each bite took my senses on a journey.
Four Seasons Scottsdale
By this time of the dinner, we had felt that the night couldn’t get better…the spectacular views, unparalleled hospitality and amazing food had already exceeded our expectations. However, we hadn’t received our entrées yet.
For our main course, chef Urban treated us to three incredible dishes. The first was the 8-ounce USDA prime beef tenderloin, cooked to perfection, the meat melted in my mouth with the first bite. The tenderloin was plated with a smoked leek ash butter, a saffron tarragon butter, a parsley garlic butter and a caramelized onion steak sauce reduced with an amber lager. The sweet and smoky combination from the leek butter and steak sauce on my tenderloin was my favorite.
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The second dish was a Barramundi fish, which is locally sourced from Arizona, Sauteed and charred brussel sprouts and zucchini, anchovy emulsion and a white tomato sauce.
“White tomato is a technique where we take heirloom tomatoes and blend and freeze them,” Urban explains. “We then take them out and strain the pulp of the tomato so what’s left is the clarified water from the tomato. I take that water and use it to make the sauce, so that’s why it’s a white tomato sauce, but I like to joke with guests and tell them that I have white tomatoes in my garden.”
The unique flavor of the frothy sauce added a new dimension to the flavor of the fish that I had never experienced before. The fish was flaky, delectable and when paired with the white tomato sauce, bold.
Our final entree excited me and pushed me past my comfort zone. A grilled octopus tentacle sat before me in a bed of cuttlefish ink mellow rice. Garnished with blistered tomatoes, lemon aioli and parsley, I was intrigued. I took a leap of faith and cut into the octopus, scooped some rice onto my fork and took my first bite. I was taken back by the wonderful flavor the rice and octopus delivered. It was a dish I was not expecting to try that night, but am so glad I did.
Catherine paired our entrees with a Spanish reserve wine. The lightness of the wine with a note of sweet aftertaste paired nicely with our entrees and made for an enjoyable sip for our evening.
Four Seasons Scottsdale
Our amazing dinner came to an end with a spectacular and impressive chocolate mousse ring dessert with chopped brownie bites, fresh hazelnuts and truffle ice cream. The delicious ring was made by the talented pastry chef Yudith Bustos. I savored every bite I took. The creamy truffle ice cream paired perfectly with the chocolate mousse to deliver a mix of flavors I would never expect. I ended my evening with a cup of espresso and evaluated the top-tier dinner I just had.
The evening was filled with laughs, absolutely spectacular food, delicious drinks and memories I will treasure forever. As I walked to my car that evening I pondered what chef Urban mentioned in his interview.
“I want people to have a unique experience,” Urban says. “Coming to Talavera takes time; it’s far from the city, so when people come here, I want to make sure that they have the best experience.”
A unique experience is an understatement of how I can describe this dinner at the Four Seasons in Scottsdale. Chef Urban has embraced Spanish cuisine and added an innovative twist, experimenting with flavor combinations to create an exquisite dining experience. Keep chef Urban in your sights as I feel a Michelin Star is likely to be in his future.