Address and phone: 445 S. Alvernon Way, 881-4200
Meet Aris Cabrera, executive chef at the Doubletree Hotel Tucson at Reid Park.
Born in Ensenada, Mexico, Cabrera moved to southern Arizona in 1995 and got his start in the restaurant business as a dishwasher at the Rio Rico Resort. He moved up the kitchen ladder to baker, then head pastry chef. The executive chef at the resort saw the potential Cabrera had as a chef and sent him to the Culinary Arts program at Pima Community College.
Upon graduation from the two-year program, Cabrera went back to Rio Rico as a sous chef, then accepted the executive sous chef position at the Amara Resort in Sedona. After two years there, he went onto the Little America resort in Flagstaff as executive chef, a position held before accepting the helm at the Doubletree three years ago.
As Doubletree’s executive chef, the 34-year-old Cabrera oversees two restaurants, two bars, room service and banquet service operations and a staff of 90.
Question: What’s your favorite restaurant in Tucson?
Answer: Acacia has to be my favorite. For casual, I go with Güero Canelo.
What’s your favorite dish to prepare and why?
I love to do braised country ribs. I do my own barbecue sauce with different types of chiles, ginger and honey.
What’s your favorite dish to eat?
Right now, I’d have to say pizza with calamata olives and feta cheese.
What’s unique about the Tucson restaurant scene compared to other cities?
Of course the Mexican flair that we have with all our traditional restaurants would be one thing, but I think you can also find just about everything here from Indian to Greek to some very nice Italian restaurants, and we have the collection of good restaurants that is surprising for a metro area of this size.
What’s your favorite or most used gadget or kitchen utensil?
My chef’s knife is what I use for pretty much everything.
What do you always have in your refrigerator?
Pomegranate juice and parmesan for topping my pizza.
Why are you a chef?
When I was little, I always offered to help my mom in the kitchen, and cooking right next to her and taking in all those smells and tastes of chiles and spices was something that stuck with me. Once you get started like that, you never stop.