Chef Mel is one of my favorite culinary men in the Valley. We met nearly three years ago when I first started at CBS-5, Phoenix; I interviewed him while doing cooking demos on our morning show. Since then, I’ve visited him at Talavera, I’ve seen him at events, and I’ve even cooked with him in the Four Seasons kitchen; he’s always extremely warm, welcoming, and wonderful.
Meliton Mecinas is the Executive Chef at the Four Seasons Troon restaurant, Talavera, in Scottsdale. He uses his classic French training to create exotically-infused California “fresh” dishes, but believes in minimal butter and oil, giving food the opportunity to flaunt its true flavor. He also utilizes tastes of his hometown, Oaxaca, Mexico—that’s where he developed a love for cooking.
After relocating to Southern California from Mexico, Mel and his four brothers worked with their father at a family-style restaurant in Los Angeles. Obviously he had a foodie forecast, because in 1987, Chef Mel kicked off his culinary career. At 19 years old, he joined Joaquim Splichal, the chef-owner of Patina and other LA hot spots. Though he says he had “no clue” what he was doing, Chef Mel drew on his father’s values of optimism and stuck with Splichal for nine years. That undoubtedly became the backbone of his training.
In 1997, Chef Mel began his Four Seasons tenure, starting at The Biltmore Santa Barbara. (Awesome resort.) There, Mel often cooked for Julia Child, including creating the second course for her 90th birthday celebration. He keeps a photo of her in his office and considers her a forever mentor.
Following another Four Seasons stint in Beverly Hills, Chef Mel made his way to Scottsdale. He’s the well-known mastermind behind Talavera, the featured eatery at Four Seasons Troon. (A perfect date place—we prefer the patio overlooking the Valley.) Mel’s most recent menu fave is the beef Carpaccio topped with a seven-minute egg; however, I prefer the crab mac and cheese. Do allow yourself to indulge.
Chef Mel is happily married and says his key to a successful relationship is being understanding. (His wife is extremely flexible and supportive of his crazy culinary schedule.) And if he ever happens to make it in the dog house, Chef Mel knows how to woo back his woman…she loves his homemade gnocchi.
The two have two kids, Brian and Freddy. They prefer dad’s healthy wraps. (Three things you’ll always find in his fridge include good-quality cheese, fresh produce, and a selection of deli meats.)
And even though my trainer would highly disapprove, I just can’t resist Chef Mel’s savory creations. Click here for some of his easy recipes—perfect for the holidays!!