How often do celebrities have to put up with waiting at a no-reservation restaurant? Well, both Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Academy-Award winner Michael Keaton have patiently stood two hours in line to get into Elote Café in Sedona. Why? Because along with us ordinary folks, they know that the spectacular Mexican cuisine is worth queueing up for.
The driving force behind this ten-year-old gem is Jeff Smedstad. You can taste his south-of-the-border passion in every dish.
This year, Smedstad is showing off his skills at Devour Phoenix’s Sunday VIP lounge. He’ll be dishing out buffalo short ribs with mole poblano; ahi tuna ceviche; and his signature, mouthwatering elote.
With a full house every night, why bother making the long trip down from Sedona to Phoenix? “I’m a big fan of Local First” and its coalition of independent restaurants, he says. “And I love the Phoenix Art Museum.”
The event brings “a lot of pressure,” he admits, because he knows festival-goers have high expectations. But the pressure drives him to stay at the top of his game. “You never take [success] for granted, not once.”
That’s why he so often wanders off to Mexico -- three times in the past six months – looking for inspiration. On a recent trip, he discovered a new way to prepare guacamole, combining avocado with pineapple and red chile. “It’s rich, sweet and spicy,” he explains, noting with pride that the guacamole plates have been coming back to the kitchen scraped clean. “You never stop improving,” he says.
Details: Elote Café, 771 State Route 179 (in the Arabella Hotel), Sedona, 928-203-0105.