• Tony Felice

The Fruits of Collaboration

Here at THAT Place Projects, we make a point to take the time to source only the finest ingredients in order to create our delicious, unique, approachable dishes and cocktails. Our team of Chefs, led by Executive Chef Mike Schmitz, discuss the flavors of the season, yields from the latest harvests, and research culinary trends in order to find fresh inspiration for our seasonal menus. In conjunction, our team of mixologists, led by Nick Williams, puts the same work into collaborating on our seasonal cocktail menus — with each bartender sharing their ideas and working together to refine what they've imagined into each final product.

Two of the key tenants of such collaboration that we hold central to the process are education and inspiration. We share our ideas and experiences, we help each other, and in that process, we develop some of the best ways to express our creativity. Our goal is to suspend reality for each and every one of our guests, be it for half an hour while they stop in for a quick drink during happy hour, or for an entire night, connecting with their friends and family.

This idea becomes very evident when we spend time John Sutcliffe at our Vineyard, in McElmo Canyon, Colorado. John carefully and very colorfully articulates what goes into creating our wines so that we have a greater understanding of them, which includes working together to develop our very own Tinderbox Red Blend every year. Each month, this story-filled Welshman visits us at our restaurants in Flagstaff with his latest releases in tow. He guides us through the story of each wine, painting a picture of each flavor profile that gives these incredible wines their delightful and unique characteristics. They are as colorful, complex, and humorous as their creator.

From left, John Sutcliffe, Cole Richey, and McKay Richey

Pictured here, Cole Richey, Annex General Manager, and his brother and Bartender, McKay, join John, not only to learn about the wines they were tasting but also about the geology of the terroir from which they were born. The soil within McElmo Canyon imparts notes of dark stone fruit and herbs into its beloved grapes with its unique terroir which includes, limestone, clay, and sand. Wines grown in limestone-rich soils are generally long-lived and have bright, linear acidity, while the clay imparts similar qualities to itself— thick, round, and generous. Sharing all of these details, and folding them neatly into memorable stories is John’s specialty.

It is because of tastings such as these that we get the opportunity to share with you what we love and appreciate in the different varietals, and how we can best describe and recommend something based on your palate, even if you're not quite sure what that is. Wine is not meant to be intimidating. Whether you pair it with food, or simply share a bottle while visiting with friends, wine is expected to be enjoyed by anyone and everyone; great wine merely comes down to finding what you like. This idea is true for all of our menus. In turn, we feel our patrons continue our education purely through conversation — guiding you teaches us how to guide others. Therefore, you become a part of the collaboration too.


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