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Chef Elizabeth Meinz of Orange Table

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This week we caught up with Orange Table's Executive Chef Elizabeth Meinz. When we dropped in we found her battling a mountain invoices while also greeting her many regular customers. We chatted with Meinz, also the Orange Table general manager, about the subtle revamp of Scottsdale's best-kept breakfast secret, which changed ownership just six months ago.

What made you want to take on this particular project, Orange Table?

It's interesting because I said to myself this time last year that by the end of the year I wanted to be in a general manager position. I'd been cooking in the back of the house for the past five years but I started 20 years ago in the front of the house. I wanted to go in the back so I could round out my general management-ship, and I felt after 5 years I had done that. So I was ready...and I wanted to do it by the end of 2010. Well I found Matt and Craig, the owners in April or May. So I was 4 or 5 months behind my goal, but when I saw the ad on Craig's List it was like a perfect fit for me...this is basically exactly where I wanted to be.

What culinary background brought you to that point?

I started cooking when I was 15. I've served. I've bartended. I've been the bar manager. I've opened restaurants. I've, sadly, closed restaurants...like I said, mostly in the front of the house. I've also functioned as a special event and private party coordinator for a restaurant in Milwaukee. And then five years ago I went back to culinary school--I have a bachelor's degree but I went back to culinary school--did that for five years, cooked, and now I'm here.

Ham backlash

This is really random and weird but I took ham off the menu. They were bringing in this ham just to be a side on the breakfast menu and then it was doing nothing else. We had these two ham sandwiches that we never sold. So I was like I'm just going to get rid of it--we had prosciutto already, which is like fancy ham anyway! So I got some ham backlash but instead of ham on the eggs Benedict we have prosciutto and no one else is doing that. A lot of people love it.

Real food only

So there's that, and I took American cheese off the menu--because it's not real food. You shouldn't have anything that's not real food on a food menu. There are a lot of people that are mad about the American cheese. But I have bangin' cheese. I'm not going to offer American cheese, too.

Tomorrow we'll chat more with Elizabeth about joining the Scottsdale community and what the new management see on the horizon for Orange Table.

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