• Meet Danny Perez, Clean & Intentional Cuisine

    FROM THE Fall/Winter 2016 ISSUE

    Passionate about integrating the Tucson area’s flavors with his own heritage and style, chef Danny Perez focuses on fresh and simple in his kitchens. 

Danny Perez strives to make a group function an experience, providing personalized and interactive meals that stay in guests’ memory banks. 

Perez has steadily climbed the culinary ladder at JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort since the property opened in early 2005. Not only does his personality and skill in the kitchen make him a friend of chefs around the city, it landed him the city’s Iron Chef title in 2015 and 2016. In March, he was appointed to the dual role of executive chef/food and beverage director for the 575-room resort nestled against the saguaro-covered foothills of Tucson Mountain Park. 

Moving to the United States from Mexico at age 10 took some adjusting, but he grew to love Tucson and its unique culture and specializes in Mexican fusion cooking. “I had never even had root beer and mac and cheese before,” he recalls. 

Perez spent hours in the kitchen with his grandfather who cooked with intention and urgency, something he passed on to his grandson. After graduating from Scottsdale Culinary Art School in 2001, Perez landed at Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus in Tucson before joining the JW Marriott. 

MTM: You operate a 90-percent-scratch kitchen. What does that mean for guests and groups?
: We operate with the intent to respect every step of the food process. We purchase unprocessed vegetables and peel, slice and cook all of them ourselves. We butcher whole fish and cut down tenderloins. Stocks, soups and dressings are done daily or weekly to create a fresh product. Our pastry department makes pretty much everything with the exception of bagels and some sliced bread. 

MTM: How does the concept of clean food impact the way you lead F&B at the hotel?
When I create and develop new menus, I enjoy being able to explain food in fewer than five adjectives, so I incorporate this concept into all of the resort menus as well as when I cook at home. A server should never need to look at their notes to describe how great a dish is.

MTM: What are some unique approaches you have recently used with groups?
For groups, a popular event is our Starr Pass Farmers’ Market. We set up an area that resembles an actual farmers’ market and highlights the surrounding farms and local artisanal items from Tucson. There are interactive salsa stations where the attendee can choose his/ her own ingredients and taste test it, and then we jar the salsa for them so they can take it home. 

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Originally from Kentwood, Louisiana, Stephanie Polk, TDM, CTE, first made her mark on the travel and tourism industry as director of marketing for the Beaumont Convention & Visitors Bureau. There, she helped to elevate the city as a destination for recreation travelers and business groups. Wowed by her accomplishments, in 2020, League City brought her on board to lead its marketing efforts. She shares with us highlights and advice from her experience in the industry. 


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