There’s been a seismic shakeup at Elements at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, but the changes should be positive for all concerned, including us diners. Food Network super-star Beau MacMillan has resigned his longtime position there as executive chef, and Landon Post, the resort’s banquet chef for the past eight years, has taken MacMillan’s place.
MacMillan has morphed to culinary advisor for the restaurant/resort, where he hopes to continue to build the Sanctuary brand, bring exposure to the young guns in the kitchen, and drive revenue. Of course, MacMillan has already proven his interest in and knack for elevating the brand.
In 2020, he saw the setbacks associated with COVID as an opportunity to better the resorts F&B program, and to that end, he brought on innovative mixology guru and Bar Chef author Christiaan Röllich. He also brought back Samantha Sanz, who had worked in the Elements kitchen as a sprout from 2008-2011, where her obvious talent did not go unnoticed.
After her first gig at Sanctuary, Sanz honed her skills as chef de cuisine position at Virtu and, later, took the same position at Talavera at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale, where she began to receive recognition for her Latin-inspired cooking.
Sanz will retain her current position as chef de cuisine, and while the Elements menu won’t change completely or lose its Asian inflection (regulars would, no doubt, be up in arms), Sanz promises a few “fun, new” differences, including its setup. In short, we can expect her inimitable Latin touch in terms of vibrant colors and flavors.
Sanz says, “I’m so happy for this opportunity and so grateful for Beau’s mentorship. What better stage than Elements to share my creative passion?” Is it just me, or does it sound like she’s going to be given a bit more freedom to do her own thing?
Meanwhile, MacMillan exudes positive vibes of his own, saying, “I love Sanctuary. I opened the doors here, and I’ve had a dream job and a dream salary for 23 years, but now it’s time to figure out the next chapter. I want to work on my health, spend more time with my kids and at the same time, create F&B experiences at the resort.”
His words have a swan song ring to them, and his mention of a once-princely salary may help explain what prompted this kitchen restructuring in the first place. Back in November, the resort was bought by a partnership of four entities, including New York-based Gurney’s Resorts and Scottsdale-based BB Hotels. New ownership inevitably brings changes — in this case, comprehensive (and no doubt costly) renovations to the resort.
However, MacMillan’s role in bringing notice and acclaim to both the resort and the resort over the years is indisputable. He launched the popular Lunch & Learn series in 2012, Bar Brawl (a cocktail showdown) in 2015 and Nirvana Food & Wine Festival in 2017. Now he has more “aspirational projects” in the works, the earliest one being a high-end, three-course dinner held at the resort this coming Jan 8 and featuring Food Network Star Robert Irvine. MacMillan will host the fundraising event, which includes a culinary demo. Call 866-975-3039 for reservations.
You might be wondering if his new gig at Sanctuary will be enough to keep a dynamo like MacMillan busy, and you’re right to pursue that line of reasoning. It’s probably not. He’s already consulting for Cala, the restaurant in Senna House Scottsdale, a brand-new boutique hotel that sits on the lot that once housed Don & Charlie’s at 75th Street and Camelback. The hotel opened in December; the restaurant should be open this month, and guess what? It will be helmed by chef Peter McQuaid, an Elements alum who has also worked for Silvana Salcido Esparza of the original Barrio Café. There’s a lot going on around town, and MacMillan seems to be in the thick of it.
Elements at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, 5700 E. McDonald Dr., Paradise Valley, 855-245-2051, sanctuaryoncamelback.com