Chef Robert Setzer is a 4th generation Arizona native. Family has always been and continues to be a major source of support and inspiration. Family gatherings and holidays always centered around a meal that was lovingly prepared from scratch. Because of this, Robert gained an appreciation and passion for home cooked meals and quality ingredients.
Starting at the young age of 15 washing dishes, Robert glimpsed the future he would inevitably fall in love with. The noise and commotion of a restaurant kitchen seemed a bit foreign, but the love and joy the customers were emitting became addicting. “Nothing can compare to this feeling of gratification and happiness”.
Upon graduating high school, Robert moved to Downtown Phoenix and began to pursue his calling as a chef. While working at a small Italian restaurant in Phoenix, “Il Posto”, he achieved his associates degree in Culinary Arts from The Art Institute of Phoenix, and then went on to earn a Bachelors degree in Culinary Management.
Robert has worked for many very successful and notable restaurants in the valley. His experience includes Sous Chef at Chelsea’s Kitchen, Executive Sous Chef at La Grande Orange, Executive Sous Chef at True Food Kitchen, Executive Chef at Arcadia room, Chef De Cuisine at San Tan Brewing Co and Executive Sous Chef at Federal Pizza.
All of the amazing kitchens Robert has worked in have been a source of learning and growth in many ways, but the one thing he has embraced as most important is to… “Love the food and ingredients you put on the plate”.
Chef Melissa Bracken-Henderson born in Greeley Colorado and raised all over the mid-west. She shared the kitchen with her grandmother & great grandmother where she learned kitchen basic like canning and preservation techniques. Here matriarchs shared the gift of baking and food.
Working her way up from dish washer to line cook lit fire + curiosity. Not getting into culinary school was an inspiration to overcome! “Nothing will hold me back!”
After working at Wolfgang Puck’s in Denver, Melissa relocated to South Dakota where she worked at Sous Chef at Botticelli Ristorante Italiano. During her time there she learned one on one from Chef Aleaha Ghere, her friend and mentor.
Looking for new opportunities Melissa set her sights on Arizona. Finally, Spring 2013 Melissa packed up her bags and family and moved to Gilbert Arizona. Securing employment at a local brew pub + restaurant was the first stop! As a line cook there she worked with Chef Robert Setzer. Running Catering and line shifts daily.
After years of service it was time to run her own kitchen! She accepted a job as the Executive Chef at The Beer Research Institute where she was able to show her creativity + team leadership skills. Wanting to grow as a chef Melissa then moved on to AZ Wilderness Brewing Co.
Continually longing for more than “just a job” Melissa was on the lookout when Chef Robert announced he was looking for the next leader of Chef Phoenix. It was meant to be!
Chef Chris Zembrzuski (Chef Z) has been in kitchen environments since he was legally able to work. Starting as a busser at an Outback Steakhouse, he worked his way up the kitchen ladder to be Kitchen Manager, he found food to be his passion and applied to the The Art Institute of Phoenix, certified by the American Culinary Federation. He was selected for the program from 5,000 applicants. He was one of the 164 that started that year and one of 75 that graduated 3 years later. Winning a scholarship in a Quick-Fire Challenge.
Mentored by the great Chefs from throughout the world. During school he worked in kitchens as well, such as the Hilton at Tapatio Cliffs and Squaw Peak, Il Posto Italian Kitchen, The White Chocolate Grill, and Chelsea’s Kitchen, Chef Z learned the foundations of culinary excellence.
He then took his new set of skills back to Kansas City, where he was Sous Chef at Blanc. Chris really started to learn about local and organic ingredients and the importance of using quality products. He worked with Blanc for two years developing recipes and opening new locations.
Seeking new challenges, Chef Z moved back to the Southwest to Sedona, Arizona to learn more Mexican influenced styles. He landed chef jobs with Open Range and L’Auberge Resort and Spa.
Always looking for new experiences and challenges he moved to Foodie Central, San Francisco, California and worked as Chef De Cuisine for Christopher’s Fine Catering. Cooking personally for film and photo shoots in The City and around the Bay Area. In that time he was able to work with and build client relations with: Facebook, Williams Sonoma, Apple, Starbucks, Hewlett Packard, United Airlines, Ford Motor Company, among many others.
Eventually, Chef Z found his way back to Kansas City, this time with a plan to work for himself and get back to doing what he loves. Cooking directly for people in their own homes. He feels it is much more gratifying cooking for someone on a personal level and developing a relationship with his customers. As he learns your likes and dislikes, the options for creativity are endless.
“Anybody can make you enjoy the first bite of a dish, but only a real chef can make you enjoy the last.” François de la Rochefoucauld
I started my life in the restaurant industry over 13 years ago. I originally began my journey in order to take care of my family as I went through college.
I have experience in the front of house, back of house, and management. I jumped into an opportunity in the kitchen, and fell in love. I pushed myself daily to grow and expand my culinary knowledge. After obtaining associates degrees in science and the arts, I decided to follow my passion and accepted my first sous chef job. The company I was a part of exposed me to anything from barbecue to fine dining, and is where I really found my love for catering.
During my restaurant journey I met the leadership team from Chef Kansas City. I began supporting them on an ad hoc basis which then became an offer to come on full time being the sous chef.
Since my experience at Chef Kansas City my knowledge has grown exponentially and everyday has a new challenge. The Culinary world is exciting and has an endless vast of knowledge that I love being a part of.
“Creativity and ego cannot go together. If you free yourself from the comparing and jealous mind, your creativity opens up endlessly. Just as water springs from a fountain, creativity springs from every moment…” -Jeong Kwan