Rarely to I refer to somewhere as one of my favorites. Being fortunate to experience so many outstanding establishments, there is no way I could

pick one or a half dozen. However, at the top of my list for dining is El Chorro’s in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

El Chorro’s is a 70 plus years dining landmark that provides unsurpassable ambience with the feel of a large hacienda. Through clever design, it is broken up into patio sections so it does not seem as large as it is.  The live music, good service and fine food adds to the experience.  It was closed for a long time and underwent massive renovations, but its charm remains.

Executive Chef, Charles Kassels continues the legacy and traditions out through his culinary vision. The menu is centered on fresh, organic and locally grown ingredients and also includes a select offering of the traditional El Chorro classic menu item favorites. I think the steady customers would rebel, if the sticky buns were ever removed from the menu.

The chef’s French techniques shine through in many new dishes, blending seasonal and regional organic ingredients with influences from Southwest, Continental and Sonoran cuisines.

Kassels brings impressive experience as previously Executive Chef for the Old House Restaurant and the El Dorado Hotel & Spa in Santa Fe, N.M.; Executive Chef for the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale; banquet chef at the Boulders Resort in Carefree; and Executive Chef at Continental Catering and Barmouche, both in Phoenix. Kassels was named the best new chef in Santa Fe in 2007 and was the featured host chef for Santa Wine and Chile Festival in New Mexico. He has also served as chef at many high-profile events, including the FBR Open/Phoenix Open, The Winston Cup NASCAR Race in Phoenix and 1996 Republican National Convention. He trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York

In his free time, Kassels, a native Phoenician, enjoys golfing, fly fishing and cooking with his wife, Mary and two children, Herschel Henry and Sara Victoria. The chef shared the El Chorro’s Beef Stroganoff recipe with us.


(Serves 4)


2oz  olive oil

14 oz beef tenderloin, cut into ¼ inch chunks

6 oz  julienne white onions

6 oz 1/4ered button mushrooms, washed first

1 oz chopped garlic

1 oz chopped shallots

4 oz red sweet vermouth

8 oz sour cream

10 oz heavy cream

6 oz demiglace

4 oz whole butter

2 tbsp chopped parsley, thyme and dill

Salt and pepper to taste

4 oz julienne sugar snap peas and baby carrots


In a large sauté pan, sauté beef, onions on medium high heat until a deep brown color is achieved, caramelized.

Add garlic and shallots and continue to cook for 1 minute.

Deglaze with vermouth and reduce till dry.

Add ½ sour cream and all heavy cream and continue to cook till thick.

Add demi-glace, herbs, salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with dollops of sour cream, peas and carrots and divide into 4 bowls.


El Chorro is located at the base of Camelback and Mummy mountains on Lincoln Drive just east of Tatum Boulevard.

El Chorro’s

5550 E. Lincoln Drive

Paradise Valley, Arizona 85253 Phone: 480.948.5170

If you have the opportunity to visit, I hope you enjoy El Chorro as much as Norm and I do.

Maralyn D. HillThe Epicurean Explorer

President, International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association

Editor-at-Large, CityRoom

Blogs: Where and What in the WorldSuccess with Writing