Chef Michelle Jurisin

by Amy Harrington | December 20th, 2012 | Chef Interviews

Arizona is home to five unforgettable restaurants called The Haunted Group, all owned by Eric and Michelle Jurisin.  Located in Cottonwood, Jerome, and Scottsdale, you have plenty of opportunities to “eat, play and stay” with the Jurisins. Michelle is a hands-on, hard working chef that can be found in any of her six restaurants. She is known to always be in good spirits and is able to create delicious fresh dishes.  Each restaurant is unique in style and cuisine all under the watchful eye of dedicated Chef Jurisin. I spoke with her as she shared with me her passion for cooking and the restaurants: Grapes, The Haunted Hamburger, The Tavern Grille in Cottonwood, The Tavern Grille in Scottsdale, The Tavern Hotel, and Nic’s.

AH: Have you created any special menu items that highlight the local produce?

CM: We cook with seasonal ingredients at Grapes’ wine dinners regularly, as well specials at the other restaurants.

AH: Do you work with any farms in particular?

CM: Camp Verde farmers are known for their sweet corn and pecans here in the Verde Valley.  We do everything from a sweet corn con queso to chowders and salads.  We also are able to get pumpkins during season for our desserts and soups.  Other than that we have to rely on New Frontiers and the Organic Grocers to source local and organic ingredients for us.

AH: How often do you change items on your menus?

CM: We have weekly special menus which incorporate seasonal ingredients at The Haunted Hamburger and The Tavern Grille.

AH: Although each restaurant is different in atmosphere and cuisine, is there anything common about them in terms of ingredients or style?

CM: I feature New England style cooking in all of the restaurants focusing on Italian and American cuisine. I grew up in Rhode Island and visit my 93 year old grandmother, who is my inspiration, every couple of months, focusing on seafood dishes for Nic’s and local specialties to share with all of the restaurants.

AH: Where do you get the inspiration to cook?

CM: My inspiration comes from both my grandmother’s Sunday dinners, as well as growing up working in my father’s deli doing catering events.

AH:  How are you able to oversee all six restaurants and keep them so successful?

CM: My husband and I currently oversee our five restaurants with the sixth on the way.  Through our 19 years running restaurants in the Valley we have developed and retained a strong team of managers and staff.  I cook in at least one of them daily and am very comfortable in all of my kitchens having a personal relationship with all of my chefs.  Maintaining consistency is our passion, as well as staying current with our ingredients and cooking styles.

AH: What makes your restaurant unique?

CM: We love changing it up, from the decor to the menus, wine lists, and cocktails.  Our restaurants are all located, with the exception of Scottsdale, in historic renovated buildings, which is what gives them their character. They are bursting with history and tales from their past, as well as new experiences every day.

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