What happens when an executive chef loses the top-of-the-line stainless steel commercial appliances, professional tools and cache of underlings that he's used to? Either he rises like cream to prove he's got culinary game without the fancy extras, or he sinks like poached eggs to the bottom of the pot.
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Celebrated local chefs Eddie Matney, Beau MacMillan and Matt Carter will leave the comfort of their clean, modern kitchens for rustic digs at the historic Monti's La Casa Vieja on Mill Avenue in Tempe this spring. The last Tuesday of every month, one of these guest chefs will be on hand at the restaurant to create and prepare a special menu for diners.
We've never seen the kitchen at Monti's before, but if the dark, cramped, crumbling dining halls are any indication, this "experiment" might be akin to tossing Matney, MacMillan and Carter out into the wilderness with a stack of wood and a few rusty pots to cook with.
It's not Monti's fault, of course. The restaurant's original adobe structure was built in 1871. Though the building underwent extensive renovations and restorations after Leonard Monti bought it in the '50s, there are still limitations that come with age. Plus, Beau Mac Millan's new state-of-the-art $2 million kitchen at elements makes most restaurant kitchens look like a backwoods diner. Perhaps MacMillan and the others can console themselves knowing that Dinner: Impossible star Robert Irvine manages with less -- and that they can head back to their own plush work spaces after dinner is over.
The kitchen switching begins next Tuesday, February 22 from 5-10 p.m. with chef Eddie Matney of Eddie's House, followed by a visit from MacMillan on March 29 and Matt Carter of Zinc Bistro on April 26.