Mexican Cuisine Gets a New Twist
Executive Chef Meliton 'Mel' Mecinas of Crescent Moon restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North shares his passion for reinventing Mexican cuisine—and his recipes!
As Executive Chef Meliton “Mel” Mecinas guides a visitor through the maze of kitchens, storerooms and passageways on a whistle-stop tour of his domain at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, he exchanges cheerful greetings and the occasional high five with everyone he meets. It’s both work and play for Chef Mel, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
After coming to Scottsdale four years ago, one of Mecinas’ executive decisions was to reinvent Mexican cuisine for the menu in Crescent Moon. Drawing on his own culinary heritage from Oaxaca, Mexico, he began experimenting with Arizona’s home-grown Mexican flavours. “I wanted to play with the concept in order to offer a unique take on Mexican cuisine, including its presentation,” says Mecinas.
His efforts included prising from his own mother—with considerable difficulty, since she never wrote anything down—his grandmother’s secret recipe for mole negro, the traditional Mexican spicy sauce that encompasses up to 60 ingredients. “Then it took me several years to perfect my own. It was a challenge, as it takes a good three hours to make. You have to get the exact right balance of sweetness and spiciness, as well as a perfect glaze.”
Some of the most frequently used ingredients in Mexican cuisine are pea tendrils, bean sprouts, fresh corn, onions, cilantro, radishes and baby zucchini blossoms. Mecinas likes to buy as much as he can from local farmers. “I’m a regular at the small farmers markets around Scottsdale, and I order a lot from a Tucson-based organic farm.”
Chef Mel also likes using special oils such as Queen Creek Mexican Lime Oil, which goes superbly with asparagus, or Queen Creek Blood Orange Oil, which makes excellent vinaigrette.
Two of his newest Crescent Moon menu additions are spicy tuna taco served on a crispy wonton, and a jicama crab taco. “Some chefs prefer not to share their recipes, but as I’m always creating new ones, I’m happy for people to copy mine,” he says.
Here, for your enjoyment, is one of them!
Crab Taco with Pico de Gallo
Pico de Gallo
• 8 large roma tomatoes
• 1 small red onion
• 5 jalapeños
• 1 cup fresh lime juice
• 1 Tbsp Kosher salt
• 1/2 bunch of cilantro
• fresh ground white pepper
Dice all the vegetables. Then, chop the cilantro. Mix all the diced vegetables and the chopped cilantro with the lime juice and salt. Let the salsa marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
• 6 thin slices of jicama
• 6 oz Jumbo lump crab meat (ideally Phillips brand)
• 2 radishes, julienned
• 1 lime, cut into wedges
Slice jicama into paper-thin slices, using a small electric slicer (or a mandolin slicer). Use slices of jicama as a “taco” shell to scoop crabmeat. Sprinkle with Pico de Gallo and garnish with julienned radish and lime wedges.