Creekside restaurants go bold with new renegade chef
Cuisine is Locally Inspired, Globally Tinged and Infused with Sedona Spirit
L’Auberge de Sedona recently welcomed Chef Michael O’Dowd as executive chef of Cress on Oak Creek and ETCH Kitchen & Bar. A seasoned culinary mastermind, Chef O’Dowd has reimagined both creekside restaurants to reflect the spirit of Sedona, creating dishes with local roots and global depth, sprinkled with a dose of innovation.
“L’Auberge de Sedona lures guests with the possibility of exploration,” said Managing Director Greg Hanss. “Chef O’Dowd’s menu alone is an adventure. He sparks curiosity with every dish and displays a reverence for our surroundings.”
Before joining L’Auberge de Sedona, O’Dowd developed and executed culinary concepts for the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa including Kai, which became the only Arizona restaurant to earn both the coveted AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star awards. During that time, he created his own genre of globally inspired Native American fare and penned a cookbook on the topic, “New Native American Cuisine.” Prior, he earned his chops working alongside several Michelin-starred chefs, and his impressive CV includes owning and operating his own restaurant group, and holding coveted positions at several five-star, five-diamond resorts the likes of The Jefferson Hotel in Washington D.C., The Ritz-Carlton & Stanhope Hotels in New York City and the Sunset Tower in Los Angeles.
“There’s no other place I’d want to have the creative reins,” said O’Dowd, an avid fly fisherman. “I’m able to tap into the energy of the Sedona land, and elevate its boundless bounty into an art form. Standard is not in my vocabulary.”
Chef O’Dowd’s innovations were recently rolled out at ETCH Kitchen & Bar, the more laid-back of L’Auberge de Sedona’s two creekside eateries. ETCH welcomes guests for breakfast, lunch and dinner with open-air seating and fire pits, providing a table for all tastes with a vibe as free-flowing as its setting on Oak Creek. From sharable appetizers, seasonal salads, mindful bowls and plant-based delights, to hand-held savory comfort foods and indulgent, carnivorous eats, examples of new ETCH dishes include:
- Preserved Lemon Hummus “Sin or Grace” allows guests to choose foie gras as the starring ingredient or simply lemon, roasted garlic and mint
- The Bowl features game bird broth, rice noodles, chia seeds, ginger mash, purslane and foraged mushrooms with choice of Atlantic salmon or aged sirloin sheets
- Steak lovers have arrived with a Grilled Wet-Aged New York accompanied by newfangled hash made from Brussels sprouts and fingerling, brightened with a duo of sauces
- The Tart Lemon Wedge is made cooler by the dollop of lavender-scented snow
Meanwhile, the imagination continues with a chef-driven beverage and bar program, reimagining classic cocktails with a holistic approach by infusing throwback elixirs with natural tinctures and muddled herbs. The Bee’s Knees, replete with a honeycomb rim, is made with house gin infused with lavender and herbs, desert honey and egg white for frothing; And the Copper City Cola doesn’t mess around with White Whiskey Moonshine, Massenez Lime and Ginger Liqueur, Kola Nut simple syrup, poured over a solid cube made from Sedona water.
With a new menu set to debut later this summer, Chef O’Dowd is also working his magic on the offerings at Cress on Oak Creek, a world-class dining experience in a verdant creekside oasis. Here, O’Dowd further draws upon the earth as a canvas for his culinary creations, highlighting the region’s indigenous ingredients, including cholla buds, wheat berries, and saguaro blossom – to create and interweave dishes with a global purpose and perspective. The nightly coursed menu will be inspired by three natural elements: earth, water and sky. Earth: ingredients sourced locally, as well as grown onsite and foraged from Sedona’s rich soil, such as native herbs, seeds and mushrooms. Water: edible elements from the water that runs through the region, such as watercress and trout. Sky: Arizona sourced small-farm game birds and mesquite pods carefully harvested from the soaring trees surrounding the property.