Deseo and the Epicurean Experience
Deseo at Scottsdale's Westin Kierland Resort has garnered accolades for its Nuevo Latino cuisine and its new Chef de Cuisine Derek Biazo continues this pan-Latin flair. The menu skillfully weaves traditional Latin ingredients with a contemporary twist, and I was invited to attend a media event to learn more about Chef Biazo and deseo's Thursday night Epicurean Experience.
Our group met in the Muddle Bar, where we started with pre-dinner cocktails (a Pisco Sour for me) and met General Manager Juan Vallejo. We were warmly welcomed as he described the evening we had in store. He also told us about renowned Cuban artist Nelson Garcia-Miranda, who can be found painting in deseo during “descansar” happy hour Tuesday through Saturday. We learned he had gained fame in Cuba before defecting to the United States and ending up in the deseo kitchen as a dishwasher. He was soon recognized, and now his beautiful work, which is shown in collections all over the world, is also displayed in deseo.
Juan also introduced us to Chef Biazo, who told us that we had an interactive evening planned with a chance to talk to the chefs and ask questions during dinner, "You'll be sitting at the rail, we always have a good time there."
Director of Communications Jennifer Franklin spoke to us more about the Epicurean Experience, a special menu offered every Thursday at the 12-seat "Rail" surrounding the open kitchen. "The menu changes weekly and the guests can come in and chat with the chefs as they dine. It's a great learning experience and great fun."
A native of Kingman, Arizona, Chef Biazo spent time in California at Voignier, Menlo Grill Bistro, and as executive chef at Alexander’s Steakhouse, and locally at Elements, Top of the Rocks, and Alchemy. Throughout the night, he described the dishes and his cooking philosophy, and we learned more about this talented chef in stories such as falling in love with gourmet food at the young age of 14 while visiting Quebec with his grandmother and her brother. "They were foodies and wine drinkers and basically just put me on this crash course of fine dining. We'd have two-hour lunches and dinners would be three to four hours - escargot, sweetbread, lobster, foie gras."
Deseo has fresh fish flown in seven days a week, and our epicurean feast started with a trio of vibrant ceviches with an accompaniment of "nitro popcorn" paired with Ritual sauvignon blanc from Chile. Clockwise from top left:
- Clasico. A take on the Peruvian ceviche clasico with its traditional garnishes of boiled sweet potato and giant corn, at deseo it was deliciously updated using sole partnered with roasted and crispy sweet potato, purple corn, and pickled onions with a citrus trio of orange, lemon, and lime juice.
- Ceviche de escalopes. One of my favorites of the night, this married sweet, translucent disks of Maine diver scallops with passion fruit, aji amarillo (a yellow Peruvian chile), culantro, lemon oil, and pickled jalapeño.
- Tiradito Nikkei. Another winner, tiradito refers to Peruvian raw fish slices and Nikkei is a nod to sashimi and the Japanese immigrants of Peru. This combined silky hamachi with truffle ponzu gilded with rocoto chile pearls, creamy avocado mousse, and strips of nori (Japanese dried seaweed).
For course two, tartare de carne featured tender Arizona prime Angus beef with preserved lemon, mustard and capers wrapped in crispy plantains and decorated with confit lemon, chorizo powder, and aji verde (an emulsion of cilantro and aji amarillo) for a perfect bite full of flavors and textures. The wine pairing was likewise a crowd favorite - Reginato sparkling Argentinean Malbec.
I'm a big fan of feijoada, a Brazilian beef, pork, and black bean stew served with kale, and I loved Chef Biazo's interpretation. At deseo, he transformed this homey dish by plating braised wagyu shortrib with savory black bean, chorizo and ham hock ragu, fried kale, and zesty gremolata. Its surf pairing brought crispy-skinned Campbell River salmon flown in from British Columbia on a bed of charred scallion Spanish bomba rice, sauce romesco, and paper-thin radish rounds. A Manos Negras Pinot Noir from Argentina was poured to accompany.
Happily, I saved room for dessert since we were treated to a trio paired with La Playa late harvest sauvignon blanc from Colchagua Valley, Chile: Candy matchsticks, a decadent chocolate cigar, and rich cappucino gelato.
This special evening was not only a wonderful introduction to Chef Biazo, but also a reminder for me to return to deseo more often.
Interested in the Epicurean Experience? You should be! Call for a reservation on "The Rail" for a Thursday night. The chefs will demonstrate two deseo ceviches paired with a signature mojito from deseo's Muddle Bar, followed by a three-course dinner with South American wines. The cost per person with pairings is only $75 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. Call 480.624.1202 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm your spot.