New “Check Please! Arizona” Host Mark Tarbell

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Award-winning Arizona chef and restaurateur Mark Tarbell will be taking over for season 7 of “Check, Please! Arizona” in January of next year. Tarbell has been featured on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” and owns Tarbell’s restaurant, The Tavern and The Wine Store in Phoenix and will talk about his new role as host the Arizona PBS show which features restaurant reviews with real-life local diners providing the locations.

TED SIMONS: AWARD WINNING ARIZONA CHEF AND RESTAURATEUR MARK TARBELL IS THE NEW HOST OF "CHECK, PLEASE! ARIZONA." TARBELL WILL BEGIN HOSTING THE ARIZONA PBS PROGRAM AT THE START OF NEXT YEAR. HE'S APPEARED ON THE FOOD NETWORK'S "IRON CHEF AMERICA" AND OWNS TARBELL'S RESTAURANT, ALONG WITH THE TAVERN AND THE WINE STORE IN PHOENIX. WE WELCOME MARK TARBELL TO ARIZONA HORIZON. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE.
MARK TARBELL: GREAT TO BE HERE.
TED SIMONS: CONGRATULATIONS ON THE GIG.
MARK TARBELL: I AM VERY EXCITED.
TED SIMONS: WHY DID YOU TAKE THE GIG?
MARK TARBELL: WELL, IT WAS OFFERED TO ME. NO, IT WAS A SHOW THAT MY RESTAURANT WAS FEATURED ON IT AND I WAS REALLY IMPRESSED. I HAVE FRIENDS THAT HOST IT IN THE BAY AREA AND HEARD GREAT THINGS ABOUT BEING ON IT, HEARD GREAT THINGS ABOUT THE SNOW AND LIKE THE SHOW MYSELF.
TED SIMONS: WHAT DO YOU PLAN ON BRINGING TO THE SHOW?
MARK TARBELL: WELL, I AM JUST GOING TO BE ME. I REALLY---WHAT I PLANNED TO BRING TO THE SHOW IS FACILITATE IT, MAKE THE HOST LOOK GOOD, MAKE THE RESTAURANTS LOOK GOOD. ESPECIALLY WHEN QUESTIONS OF FOOD OR SERVICE COME UP I AM ILLUMINATE IT, BRING A BACK STORY AND ASK QUESTIONS TO BRING OUT INFORMATION THAT WILL BE HELPFUL TO THE VIEWER.
TED SIMONS: I THINK WHEN VIEWERS SEE CHEFS IN SITUATIONS THEY WANT AN IDEA. SOMEONE SAYS I LOVE THE BEAT SALAD AND YOU SAY YOU CAN ADD SOMETHING TO IT. I WANT TO HEAR SOEMTHING LIKE THAT. THAT WILL MAKE IT NICE.
MARK TARBELL: WE WILL NOT MAKE IT TOO SPICY BUT SPICE IT UP A BIT.
TED SIMONS: EXPLAIN HOW THE PROGRAM WORKS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN IT.
MARK TARBELL: VIEWERS, ANYONE CAN SUBMIT RESTAURANTS AND THEMSELVES ON THE SHOW. I HAVE BEEN TOLD I CANNOT COMMENT OR OFFER HELP ON THIS PART AS A HOST OF THE SHOW. ALL THESE VIEWERS SUBMIT THEIR RESTAURANTS AND THEMSELVES, IT GOES THROUGH AN ARGIOUS PROCESS, AND WE GET THREE ON THE SHOW. ALL THE DINERS DO IT INCLUDING MYSELF AND WE SHARE OUR EXPERIENCES. YOU GET A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT VIEWS ABOUT THE RESTAURANTS THEMSELVES AND DIFFERENT IDEAS AND ANGLES. WHAT I LIKE ABOUT IT IS, IT IS LIKE YELP ON AIR. IT IS VIEWERS TALKING ABOUT RESTAURANTS IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD. IT IS VERY REAL, NATURAL, AND I THINK IT HAS A LOT OF AUTHENTICITY TO IT. WHICH I LIKE VERY MUCH.
TED SIMONS: DOES THE RESTAURANTS HAVE TO BE LOCAL?
MARK TARBELL: INDEPENDENTLY OWNED, HAVE BEEN IN BUSINESS FOR AT LEAST TWO YEARS. YEAH, IT IS EASY TO GET ON.
TED SIMONS: WHEN YOUR RESTAURANT WAS ON WERE YOU NERVOUS?
MARK TARBELL: I WAS. I DIDN'T KNOW THE FOLKS HAD BEEN THERE. THEY DIDN'T TELL ME. I WAS WAITING IN ANTICIPATION. THEY COME IN DOING SHOTS AND SPEND A DAY FILMING THE RESTAURANT AND YOU GET AN IDEA WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT BY THE ONES THEY PHOTOGRAPH. IT ENDED UP DOING VERY WELL FOR ME. A LOT OF NEW FRIENDS CAME IN.
TED SIMONS: IT DOES SUPPORT THE RESTAURANT PROVIDED EVERYONE LIKES THE FOOD. WHAT HAPPENS IF I PICK, YOU KNOW, TED'S DINER SOMEWHERE AND EVERYONE ELSE ON THE SHOW SAYS THIS REALLY STUNK. THIS WAS TERRIBLE? WHAT HAPPENS?
MARK TARBELL: I DON'T KNOW THAT WILL HAPPEN AND WE WILL CROSS THAT BRIDGE IF IT DOES. BUT I KNOW THE SHOW IS REALLY MORE---AT LEAST MY GOAL IS TO ENCOURAGE THE BUSINESS IN ARIZONA AND ENCOURAGE RESTAURANTS. YOU KNOW, I CERTAINLY KNOW FROM FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE HOW DIFFICULT THE BUSINESS IS. THERE IS ENDLESS CRITICS. WE DON'T NEED THAT. I THINK THERE IS A GROWING AND WONDERFUL RESTAURANT SCENE SEEN HERE IN ARIZONA. I FEEL IT NEEDS TO BE TRUMPETED.
TED SIMONS: TALK ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AND YOUR BACKGROUND IN THE BUSINESS.
MARK TARBELL: OH, BOY, HOW MUCH TIME DO WE HAVE? REAL QUICK STORY. I STARTED AS A DISHWASHER WORKER WORKING WINTERS. MY DAD WAS IN A MARINE CONSTRUCTION BUSINESS SO I DID THAT IN THE SUMMERS. IT REALLY STARTED AS A JOB AND I THOUGHT IT WAS A GREAT JOB BECAUSE I WAS CLOSER TO FOOD. I LOVE FOOD AND LIKE TO EAT A LOT AND STILL DO. THE CLOSER I WAS TO FOODI WAS MUCH HAPPIER. I NOTICED IF I COULD BE FRANK, THAT THE SERVERS PAID MORE ATTENTION TO THE COOKS THAN THE DISHWASHER DID SO THERE WAS STRONG MOTIVATION TO GET UP THERE AND COOK. I BOUGHT A BOOK BY ANOTHER PBS GUY WHEN I WAS 16 YEARS OLD AND WENT THROUGH IT AND FELL IN LOVE WITH IT AS A HOBBY AND PASSION. OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL, I SPENT A YEAR DOING AN APPRENTICESHIP IN EUROPE, IN AMSTERDAM AND THEN WENT TO CULINARY SCHOOL IN PARIS. IT GRABBED ME AND I HAVE DONE IT EVER SINCE.
TED SIMONS: YOU WERE ON IRON CHEF AMERICA. I LOVE THAT SHOW.
MARK TARBELL: IT REALLY IS AND WAS A GREAT SHOW. I WAS ON SEASON FIVE AND WAS FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO WIN. I HAD A GREAT TEAM WITH ME. IT IS ALL ABOUT TEAMWORK IN LIFE. AND IT WAS CERTAINLY TRUE THAT DAY. IT WAS A VERY SCARY EXPERIENCE. THE CHANCES OF WINNING ARE SLIM. LESS THAN 10%. WE WERE THE ONLY TEAM THAT WON THE WHOLE SEASON FIVE. YOU KNOW, TO LOSE ON NATIONAL TV IS KIND OF A DAUNTING.
TED SIMONS: YOU WATCH THE SHOWS AND FEEL SO BAD FOR THE PEOPLE WALKING DOWN THE HALLWAY. YOU ARE A LOOSER.YOU ARE A LOOSER. BUT THEY SEEM HAPPY. YOU MENTION THE STATE OF THE LOCAL RESTAURANT SCENE. HOW DO WE COMPARE TO LOS ANGELES, VEGAS, DENVER, CHICAGO?
MARK TARBELL: I THINK FAVORABLE. VEGAS IS DIFFERENT BECAUSE RESTAURANTS ARE SUPPORTED BY THE HOTELS AND THE GAMBLING. BUT EVERY OTHER CITY I THINK WE DO VERY WELL. I THINK MORE AND MORE THERE IS SMALL RESTAURANTS OPENING IN NEIGHBORHOODS THAT ARE UNIQUE AND CHEF DRIVEN AND PASSION DRIVEN AND THAT IS EVERYTHING. WHEN SOMEONE HAS A VOICE AND A PASSION TO DO IT AND A PLACE TO DO IT THEY WILL FIND FANS. AND THAT IS WHAT IS HAPPENING A LOT MORE IN THIS TOWN/
TED SIMONS: WHAT ABOUT THE CUSTOMER BASE? HOW DO THEY COMPARE TO OTHER TOWNS?
MARK TARBELL: I THINK VERY SOPHISTICATED. IT IS SUCH AN EASY CITY TO TRAVEL IN AND OUT OF. MOST PEOPLE MOVED INTO ARIZONA FROM OTHER PLACES. THERE ARE NOT A LOT OF TRUE NATIVES AND THAT MAKES IT INTERESTING BECAUSE PEOPLE COME FROM DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE COUNTRY AND WORLD AND BRING THOSE EXPERIENCES HERE AND HAVE EXPECTATIONS. I FOUND THE DINER HERE IS SOPHISTICATED BUT FRIENDLY AND KIND.
TED SIMONS: HAS IT CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?
MARK TARBELL: OH, YEAH. IT'S CHANGED. THERE IS CERTAINLY A LOT MORE RESTAURANTS IN THE AREA WHERE WE ARE 10 20 BLOCKS ON CAMEL BACK, THERE IS, I CALCULATED, ABOUT 2,000 NEW SEATS IN THE LAST SIX YEARS. I MIGHT BE WRONG BUT THAT IS A LOT. IT SEEMS EVERYONE IS DOING WELL SO I THINK IT IS CERTAINLY GOOD.
TED SIMONS: WITH THAT IN MIND, EVERYONE IS DOING WELL AND THINGS ARE IMPROVING BUT WHAT WOULD ENHANCE THE LOCAL RESTAURANT SCENE?
MARK TARBELL: I DON'T KNOW. I AM GOING TO LEARN A LOT ABOUT BEING ON THE SHOW BEING I AM IN THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS AND I WORK WHEN PEOPLE PLAY AND WE ARE OPEN SEVEN NIGHTS A WEEK I FRANKLY DON'T GET OUT AS MUCH AS I LIKE TO. ONE OF THE GREAT BENEFITS OF THIS SHOW IS I AM GOING TO BE PUSHED OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE AND VISIT NEW RESTAURANTS IN DIFFERENT AREAS AND SUBCITIES AROUND THE TOWN. I AM EXCITED TO SEE WHAT OUT THERE FROM AN ETHNIC POINT OF VIEW AND SEE HOW WE EVOLVED WITH VIETNAMESE FOOD, THAI FOOD AND FOOD CUSIINES THAT I LOVE.
TED SIMONS: ANYONE WHO HAS BEEN HERE FOR A LONG TIME KNOWS THAT THERE WAS AN INDIAN FOOD RESTAURANT IN ONE PART IN THE VALLEY OR ANOTHER PART OR A VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT. THEY ARE EVERYWHERE NOW.
MARK TARBELL: THANKFULLY, BECAUSE THE FOOD IS GOOD.
TED SIMONS: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD?
MARK TARBELL: WHATEVER IS IN FRONT OF ME. I ACTUALLY LOVE FOOD. WHEN I WAS YOUNGER AND MORE ADVENTURE, I ATE FISH EYES AND EVERYTHING AVAILABLE BECAUSE I WAS CURIOUS WHAT THEY TASTED LIKE. I HAVE SATIATED BY CURIOSITY AND I DON'T SEEK THOSE THINGS OUT BUT I LOVE BOLD FLAVORS AND THAT TAKES ME TO A LOT OF PLACES.
TED SIMONS: AND YOU'RE THE NEW HOST. NEW EPISODES IN JANUARY. CONGRATULATIONS. IT IS NEAT SHOW. A GREAT SHOW. YOU HAVE BEEN AROUND AND HAVE A GOOD NAME AND STILL DOING WINE REVIEWS FOR THE REPUBLIC EVERY NOW AND THEN.
MARK TARBELL: AS MUCH AS I CAN.
TED SIMONS: THANK YOU FOR COMING IN.
MARK TARBELL: THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
TED SIMONS: TAKE CARE.
TED SIMONS: FRIDAY ON ARIZONA HORIZON, IT IS THE JOURNALISTS' ROUNDTABLE. MARICOPA COUNTY AGREES TO PAY LEGAL FEES OF PLAINTIFFS IN THE RACIAL PROFILING SUIT AGAINST SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO…AND A STATE LAWMAKER REACHES A PLEA AGREEMENT IN A CASE OF FOOD STAMP FRAUD. THAT IS ON THE NEXT JOURNALISTS' ROUNDTABLE. THAT IS IT FOR NOW. I AM TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

Mark Tarbell: Award-winning Arizona Chef and Restaurateur

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