In August, it was announced that Rebecca Tillman was named executive chef at Lon’s at the Hermosa. Known for its globally inspired Arizona fare, the critically acclaimed restaurant is the culinary centerpiece of the hotel and is complemented by a subterranean wine cellar, a celebrated outdoor dining patio and its bar and casual dining counterpart: Lon’s Last Drop.
Over the years, the chef has built an impressive culinary resume, working with many renowned hospitality establishments including Biltmore House and the Inn on Biltmore Estate, Destination Kohler — The American Club, Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort and most recently at The Phoenician.
Tillman is a culinary mentor for Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), a curriculum enrichment program linking public high school culinary teachers and their students to the restaurant and hospitality industry. She is also a member of the philanthropic organization of women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverage and hospitality: Les Dames d’Escoffier International.
The Hermosa Inn is located at 5532 N. Palo Cristi Road, Paradise Valley. For more information, visit hermosaInn.com or call 602.955.8614.
We caught up with Chef Tillman in September and she shared some insight on her food and her inspiration, not to mention her recipe for Mushroom Tortelloni (below) — perfect for fall dining.
Please, briefly introduce yourself.
I have been in the industry now for about 20 years, have had the pleasure of working at some of the best properties in the U.S. I am a mom of three boys, married and am an avid watercolor painter.
How did you get into the restaurant business/where were you trained?
After starting culinary school, I began my career at The Arizona Biltmore.
From where do you draw your culinary inspiration?
I have traveled all over the world and find that I get inspired by the smallest of restaurants off the beaten path in some of the most remote places.
How would you describe the flavor profile of your restaurant?
I think it is globally inspired, but we use a lot of local and regional products.
What is your favorite dish at your restaurant? Why?
The Tortelloni. It evolved for my love of mushrooms. Simple dish but packs a lot of flavor.
Do you focus on sourcing local ingredients? If so, what is your philosophy behind that focus?
Sourcing local is important; however, we do live in a desert. I think it is more about finding the best seasonal ingredients as close as possible.
What are some of the interesting industry trends that you are seeing?
I think this year, it has been more about how to support the community and make as little impact on the environment as possible.
What is your go-to dish to cook at home? Or do you let someone else take over the kitchen?
We tend to cook simply at home, my husband is a great (former) chef. We love citrus marinated chicken thighs that we grill and eat with fresh Naan bread.
What are the elements that make for a memorable meal?
Great service and great food are a must. They are both equally important. |CST
Ingredients for mushroom mix
- 5 ounces shiitake mushrooms cleaned, stems removed
- 5 ounces cremini mushroom
- 5 ounces oyster mushrooms
- 2 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 2 small shallots, finely minced (about 1/4 cup)
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3/4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (approximately 1/2 cup loosely packed) plus more for serving
Ingredients for pasta dough
- 3 large eggs, beaten to blend
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Directions for mushroom mix
Place mushrooms in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until chopped into pieces no larger than 1/4 inch, 8 to 10 short pulses.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add shallots, garlic, and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until mixture is dry and starting to brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
Add red wine and Worcestershire sauce. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring, until no visible liquid remains, approximately 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Transfer to a plate and spread into a thin layer. Transfer to refrigerator to cool completely.
Directions for dough
Mix eggs, flour, oil, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with your hands until a shaggy dough forms. Knead with dough hook until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes.
Directions for Making the Tortellini
Divide dough into four even sections. Working one section at a time, with remaining sections tightly wrapped in plastic, roll dough through machine until sheet is just under 1/16th of an inch thick (typically second-to-last setting).
Lay dough out on a lightly floured surface. Use cookie cutter to cut circles as close together as possible, twisting each time to cut all the way through. Each sheet of dough should yield roughly 30 disks. Remove excess dough and cover with a kitchen towel to keep moist. (Excess dough can be re-kneaded and rolled again for a higher yield.)
Using a pastry bag, Ziplock bag, or measuring spoon, add 1/2 teaspoon of filling to the center of the first disk. Lightly moisten edges of disk with pastry brush dipped in water.
Fold disk over into a semi-circle and, working from one edge and carefully pressing out any extra air, create a seal around the filling.
Pick up both corners of semi-circle and bring them toward each other, working slowly to prevent dough from splitting.
Tuck one corner behind the other and press together. Place finished tortellini on parchment paper dusted with semolina or flour. Repeat with remaining dough. Tortellini can be frozen and transferred to a zipper-lock freezer bag for up to 2 weeks at this point.
Cook tortellini in salted boiling water until tender, approximately 4 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Return to pot, add olive oil or brown butter along with a splash of pasta water and cook over high heat, tossing constantly until sauce emulsifies and coats the tortellini, adding more pasta water as necessary. Serve immediately, sprinkled with grated Parmesan.