(The Cartwright’s Experience…According to Chef Montez Crane)
Listening to Montez Crane, Cartwright’s Executive Chef, discuss his take on food captures the heart and soul of the dining experience at Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House.
Before you really can understand what he’s talking about, you have to mentally step back in history about 100 years. Now, imagine sitting down for a special ranch-style Sunday meal with family. That’s the essence of Cartwright’s dining experience—with that same warm and wonderful sense of being surrounded by kinfolk, savoring the familiar, mouthwatering aromas, and tasting the very spirit of the Old West in every bite. Chef Crane simply describes Cartwright’s cuisine as, “Down-home, ranch-style food that’s been given ‘big shoulders’…it’s beefed up to the level of fine dining, without sacrificing our roots.”
Chef Seth Crane, who prefers to be called by his nickname, Montez, is a member of the Seneca tribe out of western New York. He pays homage to his maternal grandmother, Norma, for his love of cooking. “She was a huge influence on me,” he said, adding that she was the best cook he’s ever known. “She’d get up in the morning and start cooking. She made everything from scratch…. People were always thrilled to be invited to dinner.”
Not only does he take great pride in the food, drinks and service, like everyone at Cartwright’s, he also aims to preserve Arizona’s heritage through the cuisine and by sharing the stories of the property’s past. The restaurant was appropriately named after the Cartwright family, local ranchers who were integral in improving the quality of beef in Arizona. In fact, Manfred Cartwright was the founding member of the Arizona Cattleman’s Association. As Chef Crane boasts, “We take great satisfaction in paying tribute to these traditions every day. We use Southwestern ingredients, top-notch beef and game meats, and the best quality seafood we can find, and present them in a warm, welcoming atmosphere rich in Arizona lore.”
“I like making comfort food from scratch, working with native ingredients—that’s right up my alley,” he said. And this unique, creative cooking style, along with an American History major in college, really paid off when he and Eric Flatt, Cartwright’s co-owner, sat down to plan meals for their second annual series of “Arizona History Dinners,” honoring our state’s colorful legends, lore and tastes. (New presentations with dinners will take place every second Wednesday through October, so be sure to check them all out on Cartwright’s Events Page.)
Chef Crane revealed that he sometimes enjoys eating “breakfast for dinner.” To feed this secret desire, he cooked up an imaginative twist on Eggs Benedict to nourish any ranch-sized dinner appetite and pay homage to the restaurant’s heritage. His unique Benedict-Style Braised Pork, like its breakfast cousin, comes with Poached Eggs, House-Made Cheese Biscuits, Tomato Jam, Sauce Béarnaise, and a delectable Sweet Potato-Tortilla Hash. In his own words, “I like to take the familiar and give it broader shoulders.” And every item on Cartwright’s dinner menu proves that.
The man behind your Cartwright’s meal is at the head of the table when it comes to his talented kitchen staff, as well, who share his passion about food and eating. To nurture this enthusiasm, they all sit down to family-style evening meals where they openly share ideas and unabashedly build their team spirit.
Summing up the experience he wants for each Cartwright’s diner, Chef Crane said, “Comfortable, Approachable. Great food and service in a unique atmosphere.” He takes great pride in continuing the tradition of fine American ranch cuisine, “Celebrating a time when grandma ruled the kitchen with benevolent authority, taking impeccable care in creating a spectacular meal.”