Address and phone: 5151 E. Grant Road, 323-6262
Meet David Ferrara, executive chef at the Sheraton Tucson Hotel & Suites, which includes Fire + Spice – An Arizona Grill.
Born in Tucson, Ferrara was already working in the kitchen of a retirement home before graduating from Palo Verde High School.
“I started as a dishwasher, moved up to prep cook and left as kitchen manager seven years later,” said Ferrara, 32. “I was also doing catering work at the Solarium while I was working at the home.”
Ferrara, who learned his skill in the classic European tradition of working under the scrutiny of a chef, went to what was then known as the Hotel Park Tucson (it later became the Sheraton). He started as lead broiler cook at the Rancher’s Club, then rose to banquet chef, sous chef and, finally, executive chef, a position he’s held for seven years.
Question: What’s your favorite restaurant in Tucson?
Answer: I love Vivace. I think they do a great job there. Another one I like is Montana Avenue, because they really nail their desserts.
What’s your favorite dish to prepare and why?
I couldn’t really say I have an actual favorite, other than I’m really into blending Southwest flavors, and I definitely work to draw those flavors out in our restaurant, Fire + Spice.
What’s your favorite dish to eat?
I’m always craving Latin American cuisine.
What’s unique about the Tucson restaurant scene compared to other cities?
I believe our restaurants highlight those bold and savory flavors of Arizona, with the influence of the Southwest, Native American and Mexican cuisine.
What’s your favorite or most used gadget or kitchen utensil?
Chef’s knife. Don’t leave home without it.
What do you always have in your refrigerator?
My wife and I have a 2-year-old daughter, so there is always milk, juice and lots of fruit.
Why are you a chef?
I’m very into art, and being able to create a dish on a plate that almost looks too good to eat is what really interests me. There is nothing better than setting something down in front of someone and really impressing them not only with the way you blend flavors but also with the way it looks.