“Check, Please! Arizona” is Arizona PBS’ successful restaurant review show that ran from 2011 to 2018, hosted by Mark Tarbell, who now hosts Arizona PBS’ new food and restaurant program “Plate & Pour.” Enjoy past episodes of “Check, Please! Arizona” here at azpbs.org/checkplease. Each week, “Check, Please! Arizona” featured three guests who dine at and then review the three local restaurants that they have recommended to each other in a lively roundtable discussion.
“Check, Please! Arizona” featured close to 300 restaurants in the Valley and across Arizona, and earned four Emmy Awards.
Frequently Asked Questions
How were guests selected to be on the show?
Anyone who is interested in being considered may nominate three favorite restaurants. If selected for the show, we will pick one of the three restaurants you nominated to be included in your episode.
A few tips:
- Be expressive when you answer the questions about why we should pick you and why you love the restaurants you’re nominating.
- Check the list and map here to see if your restaurants have already been featured. There are so many great local restaurants out there, and we want to feature as many as possible.
- We are looking for interesting combinations of people and their favorite restaurants.
Are there rules I should know?
You may not have a personal or professional relationship to a restaurant you are nominating. Examples of personal or professional relationships include, but are not limited to:
- You or your family members may not work at the restaurant or own any share in the restaurant.
- You may not be a vendor or service provider to a nominated restaurant.
In order to appear on the show, you must be at least 21 years old and be willing to travel to and participate in a taping at Arizona PBS’ studios in downtown Phoenix.
Guest reviewers dine at three restaurants we assign to them. They are not with the other guest reviewers at the restaurants. They do not identify themselves to the restaurants.
Guest reviewers pay for their own meals. We provide a modest stipend in the mail a few weeks after the program taping.
The taping may take place on a weekday or on a weekend and will last a few hours.
If you are chosen to be a guest on “Check, Please! Arizona,” you must also be able to get to our studios and travel to restaurant locations within a 50-mile radius of Phoenix.
Each season we also feature a few restaurants outside the Valley, so feel free to submit restaurants outside the Valley, too.
What can I do to increase my chances of being selected?
The more expressive and detailed you are in your nomination/application, the more likely it is you’ll be considered as a guest reviewer. Nominations/applications are reviewed by the production team. If we are interested in you as a potential guest reviewer, we will contact you for a short telephone interview.
Due to the popularity of the production, we have far more nominations/applications than we can select. But, we do read and carefully consider each and every submission. We love hearing about those restaurants that are off the beaten path – the more interesting the locale or cuisine, the better.
How are restaurants selected?
We select restaurants based on a combination of factors:
- Generally, restaurants must be in business for three years.
- We select restaurants with diversity in every imaginable way in mind – cuisine, geography, price, atmosphere, etc.
- When restaurants receive multiple nominations, we take that into consideration. If we see an unusual pattern of nominations and suspect that restaurants are campaigning to be on the show, we take notice of that, too.
- Financial support of the station in any form, including in-kind donations, does not factor into the selection of nominated restaurants and/or guest reviewers.
- National chain restaurants will not be considered.
Want to suggest a restaurant for our current food and restaurant show, “Plate & Pour”? Tell us about it here.
I’m a restaurant owner or do public relations/marketing for a restaurant. If I support Arizona PBS financially, will that improve my changes of being featured?
Absolutely not! Like all Arizona PBS original productions, “Check, Please! Arizona” is free from commercial interest, and is not and never will be “pay-for-play.” The project has financial sponsors, who have no editorial input or oversight.
Arizona PBS is grateful for the financial support of businesses in Arizona, including restaurants. However, our editorial policy and internal review processes ensure a clear separation between fundraising and content creation.
As a member of PBS, KAET-Arizona PBS observes a strong code of policies regarding editorial content in order to maintain the trust which viewers have with PBS. KAET-Arizona PBS is mandated to certify that editorial freedom is guaranteed in every locally produced program to fulfill the mission of public broadcasting to inform, inspire and educate. KAET-Arizona PBS will not relinquish or compromise the editorial control of any production by request or suggestion of sponsors, funders, donors, lobbyists or special interest groups. Editorial integrity in public broadcasting depends upon each station upholding a commitment to providing a free and independent decision-making process throughout the production process in a manner ultimately accountable to, and in service of, the needs and interests of Arizonans.
Did “Check, Please! Arizona” ever feature restaurants outside the Phoenix metropolitan area?
We have featured restaurants in the Sedona area, Northern Arizona and Tucson, among other areas around the state.
I have a question or comment about “Check, Please! Arizona” or one of the featured restaurants. How can I submit my comment or question?
If you’d like to discuss the show or the restaurants with fellow viewers, we invite you to do so on our “Check, Please! Arizona” Facebook page.
If you have a comment or question about the production rather than a restaurant, please feel free to email us at [email protected] or call Viewer Services at 602-496-2308 during normal business hours.
Can you tell me about the host of Seasons 1-6?
Chef Robert McGrath hosted the first six seasons of “Check, Please! Arizona.” During his time as host, the show featured more than 200 restaurants, hosted more than 200 guests and won four Emmy Awards.
McGrath is a winner of the prestigious James Beard “Best Chef in America: Southwest” award, and founding chef of both Roaring Fork and Renegade Canteen restaurants in Scottsdale, Arizona. McGrath has been a nationally acclaimed chef for nearly two decades. Born in Texas, McGrath’s culinary career began with classical training in France, followed by prestigious postings, including chef de cuisine at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin, executive chef of the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston, and chef/owner of Sierra Grill in Houston and Brio Vista in Austin.
In 1988, Food & Wine magazine chose McGrath as one of the “Ten Best Chefs in America.” The following year, Chef McGrath’s DeVille Restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston was chosen by Esquire magazine as “One of the Best New Restaurants in America,” and in 1991, McGrath was chef for the Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations. In 1992, McGrath came to Arizona as chef de cuisine for Windows on the Green in the Mobil Five Star Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, then opened Roaring Fork, also in Scottsdale, in 1997. Named after the river that flows through Aspen, Colorado, Roaring Fork’s distinctive, ruggedly elegant menu — featuring seasonal ingredients and Old West recipes restored with a new west twist — changed the face of American Western cuisine and broadened McGrath’s already successful career in the culinary industry. McGrath is the consulting chef for Keeler Hospitality Group.
Nominated five times by The James Beard Foundation as “Best Chef in America: Southwest” (he brought home the honor in 2001), McGrath is also a member of Arizona’s Culinary Hall of Fame. He has appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Morning Show on CBS, Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, Good Morning Arizona, CNN, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and the Food Network, and also wrote the popular cookbook, American Western Cooking from the Roaring Fork. Today, this father of three lives with his wife, Amy, in Scottsdale.