Samantha Sanz takes the helm alongside Executive Chef Mel Mecinas at Talavera at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale. Sanz is a passionate culinarian who has worked alongside local celebrity Chef Beau MacMillan and James Beard Award nominee Chef Gio Osso of Scottsdale hotspot, Virtu. This is her first position with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts.
Sanz was born in Nogales, Mexico, where she was raised in a family-owned restaurant and spent her free time watching her grandfather cook while she snacked on bean burritos wrapped in handmade tortillas. “There were no PB&Js when I was a kid,” says Sanz. “I tasted everything. I was convinced that the love and hard work that went into every dish was what made everything taste so good.”
After completing culinary school, Sanz spent time traveling and eating her way through France and returned to Arizona to work alongside local Food Network Celebrity Chef Beau MacMillan. In 2013, Sanz found herself looking for the next step her culinary career. A friend invited her to dine at a local restaurant for their ‘Friends and Family Night’ – it was a small, relatively unknown spot named Virtu. Samantha was immediately drawn to the welcoming atmosphere and unique menu, so when her friend mentioned they were looking for a sous chef, Sanz jumped at the opportunity. Six months later, plenty of hard work would pay off when Esquire named the 25-seat Virtu as one of the best new restaurants of 2013 – a coveted culinary stamp of approval.
Two years later, a job opening at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale piqued her interest and she returned to her resort roots as the Restaurant Chef for Talavera in the fall of 2015. When asked what her vision is for the future of Talavera, Sanz wants to continue to teach and learn from her team and her guests.
“I walked in here on my first day, wanting to change the world,” explains Sanz. “But Chef Mel [Mecinas] helped me recognize the importance of taking it all in. Do I want to create new dishes and put my stamp on the menu? Sure. But my focus right now is to continue teaching my team and learning as an individual.”
Sanz proved she was a chef of her word after a recent wine dinner in Talavera. After the restaurant had closed, Sanz prepared all four courses and asked the wine representative to stay late so her culinary team could taste the pairings just as the guests had experienced. It was a small gesture, but one that had a great impact – the young culinary team still talks about their after-hours dinner.