“Check, Please! Arizona” returns for eighth season with host Mark Tarbell


TED SIMONS: A NEW SEASON OF CHECK PLEASE, ARIZONA KICKS OFF TONIGHT HERE ON ARIZONA PBS AND JOINING US NOW IS THE HOST OF THIS POPLAR PROGRAM. CHEF MARK I’S JUST STUNNED YOU GOT AN INTRO THERE.
MARK TARBELL: ISN’T THAT AMAZING?

TED SIMONS: YES IT IS.

MARK TARBELL: THAT IS AN EMMY AWARD-WINNING PHOTOGRAPHER BEHIND THAT.

TED SIMONS: YEAH, YEAH I WAS LOOKING FOR THE HORIZON INTRO. WE GOT TO WORK ON THAT. EIGHTH SEASON OF CHECK PLEASE, ARIZONA. DOES IT CHANGE YEAR AFTER YEAR?

MARK TARBELL: WELL, THE FORMAT IS PRETTY MUCH THE SAME WHICH IS A GREAT FORMAT. IT IS BASICALLY VIEWERS CAN COME ON AND TALK ABOUT THEIR RESTAURANTS. I LOVE THE FORMAT. IT HASN'T CHANGED. I CHANGED A LITTLE. I GRAY -- NO, I AM KIDDING.

TED SIMONS: BUT HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE THE SHOW. SOMEONE WATCHING WHO HASN'T SEEN CHECK PLEASE ARIZONA\. CAN’T IMAGINE THAT, BUT THAT HAVEN’T SEEN IT. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE IT?

MARK TARBELL: IT IS LIKE HAVING A DINNER CONVERSATION WITH FRIENDS AROUND THE TABLE. IN THIS CASE PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER MET BUT IT REALLY IS- VIEWERS HAVE A CHANCE TO PUT FORWARD THEIR RESTAURANT AND THEMSELVES AS A REVIEWER AND SO THEIR RESTURANTS AND THEY GET SELECTED AND PUT IT TOGETHER WITH TWO OTHER PEOPLE AND HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT FOOD. IT REALLY IS A WONDERFUL THING.

TED SIMONS: HOW ARE THE GUEST REVIEWERS PICKED? HOW ARE THE RESTAURANTS- I GET THIS QUESTION- I AM NOT EVEN INVOLVED WITH THE SHOW AND PEOPLE GO HOW CAN I GET ON CHECK PLEASE?

MARK TARBELL: I AM NOT EITHER. SO AS A HOST, I HAVE NO INVOLVEMENT IN THAT. YOU ARE A CHEF. THE STAFF HERE AT PBS DOES IT. YOU’RE A CHEF, YOU OWN A RESTURANT. YOU’VE DONE THIS. THIS IS YOUR LIVELIHOOD. WHEN YOU GET THESE GUEST REVIEWERS, DO THEY EVER SAY THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU? MAYBE MAKE YOU THINK A LITTLE BIT?

MARK TARBELL: NO BUT IN GOOD WAYS, YES. I MEAN I LOVE THAT PERSPECTIVE. YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL. YOU’RE AN EMMY AWARD-WINNING HOST.
TED SIMONS: THANK YOU.

MARK TARBELL: YOU HAVE AN AMAZING SHOW HERE, HORIZON. BUT YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU’RE IN THE BUSINESS FOR A LONG TIME IT’S ACTUALLY REFRESHING TO TALK TO PEOPLE WHO ARE LOOKING AT IT FROM AN INNOCENT POINT OF VIEW. THEY MAY BE SOMETHING LIKE A SERVER, BARTENDER OR THEY MAY BE A TEACHER AND THEIR POINT OF VIEW IS ACTUALLY QUITE INFORMATIVE FOR ME AND INTERESTING.
TED SIMONS: THEY PROBABLY SAY THINGS YOU HAVEN'T THOUGHT ABOUT OR HAVEN’T THOUGH ABOUT IN A WHILE.

MARK TARBELL: YES, OR LOOKED AT IN THAT WAY.

TED SIMONS: EXACTLY.

MARK TARBELL: IT’S NOT JUST A BANANA SPLIT.

TED SIMONS: SO FOR THIS SEASON, WILL THERE BE DIFFERENT KINDS OF RESTAURANTS? FOCUS? CONCENTRATION? WHAT DO YOU GOT?

MARK TARBELL: IT IS STILL A SPLATTERING OF BOTH HIGH END THINGS LIKE YOU KNOW WE DID ELEMENTS AT SANCTUARY. BUT WE ALSO HAVE THIS GREAT- THERE IS GOING TO BE THIS WONDERFUL AFRICAN RESTAURANT THAT IS GOING TO BE AUTHENTIC ETHIOPIAN FOOD, AND THOSE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS IT IS THAT BALANCE OF BOTH. THAT LITTLE TINY NICHE PLACE PASSION PROJECT BY ONE PERSON, OFTEN TIMES ONE PERSON ONLY, SERVING, COOKING, EATING, ALL THAT. AND THEN YOU HAVE MORE BIG TIME RESTAURANTS. IT IS A NICE CROSS SESSION OF WHAT’S HAPPENING CULINARILY RESTURANT WISE IN THE VALLEY.

TED SIMONS: WHAT MAKES FOR A GOOD RESTAURANT?

MARK TARBELL: WELL, PRIMARILY IT IT’S HOSPITALITY AND SERVICE. IT’S HOW PEOPLE FEEL WHEN THEY GO IN, BEACUSE IT COULD BE BEAUTIFUL RESTAURANT AND THE FOOD CAN BE FANSTASTIC, BUT IF PEOPLE AREN’T TREATED IN SUCH A WAY, I FEEL THAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.IT IS ALL ABOUT THE GREETING AND THAT WARMTH YOU FEEL WHEN YOU WALK IN.
TED SIMONS: SO IF YOU AVE GREAT FOOD BUT A SO-SO EXPERIENCE, THAT LOSES OUT TO MAYBE NOT THE BEST OF FOOD BUT A GREAT EXPERIENCE.

MARK TARBELL: I THINK SO. THAT’S BEEN MY VIEW OVER TIME AND REALLY SHARED BY A LOT OF CUSTOMERS AND FRIENDS AND THINGS LIKE THAT. IT IS A GOOD QUESTION. THE AMBIANCE CAN SAY IT ALL.

TED SIMONS: AND DO YOU HEAR THAT A LOT-
MARK TARBELL: WELL, HOW DO YOU FEEL? IF YOU WERE TREATED BADLY BUT YOU HAD A GREAT HOT DOG, I MEAN-

TED SIMONS: HOT DOG, IF I HAVE A GREAT HOTDOG IM SURPISED THAT IM EATING A HOTDOG-.

MARK TARBELL: THEN YOU EXPECT TO BE TREATED BADLY-

TED SIMONS: YEAH, EXACTLY.

MARK TARBELL: WHAT DO YOU WANT-

TED SIMONS: YOU KNOW, BUT IT’S A GOOD QUESTION. AMBIANCE SOMETIMES YOU FORGET-THE FOOD TASTES BETTER WHEN THE ENVIROMENT IS BETTER.

MARK TARBELL: YES, I MEAN THAT’S TRUE AND IT CAN BE WARMTH IN AN ENVIROMENT. IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE EXPENSIVE. YOU KNOW, IT CAN BE JUST MORE THE PERSONALITY- LITTLE THINGS THAT THE PERSON BROUGHT IN THAT OWNS IT FROM THEIR TRAVELS AND WHAT NOT.

TED SIMONS: THE PHOENIX DINING SCENE. WHERE DOES IT RANK THESE DAYS?

MARK TARBELL: IT IS EXPLODING. I MEAN WE ARE REALLY DOING WELL. THERE’S JUST SO MANY YOUNG TALENTED PEOPLE OUT THERE OPENING RESTAURANTS. SMALL PLACES, BIG PLACES. IT’S REALLY GROWN A LOT. IN MY VIEW, IT IS AS EXCITING ANYWHERE AS ANY CITY. RIGHT NOW IT IS A LOT, JUST GETTING THAT WORD OUT THERE. YOU KNOW THE MAYOR WAS TALKING ABOUT IT EARLIER. WE ARE COMPETING WITH OTHER CITIES SIMILAR TO WHAT TEMPE IS COMPETING WITH. WE WANT TO MAKE SURE WE ARE WORKING TOGETHER IN SPREADING THAT WORD AND KIND OF LOCKING ARMS AND SAYING PHOENIX IS A FOOD SCENE.

TED SIMONS: WHAT DO YOU THINK THE PHOENIX DINING SCENE NEEDS THE MOST?

MARK TARBELL: JUST FOR EVERYONE TO KNOW ABOUT IT, ITS JUST GREAT. AND CONTINUED SUPPORT. I THINK "CHECK PLEASE" DOES THAT. THE INTENT OF THE SHOW IN MY VIEW IS REALLY KIND OF PROMOTING ALL THESE THINGS PEOPLE MAY NOT HAVE KNOWN ABOUT AND ALSO CREATING A DINING CULTURE AND A DINING SCENE AND THAT EXISTS THERE-AND I LEARNED THAT MORE AND MORE IN THE SHOW- BUT THAT DOES EXIST. IT JUST NEEDS TO BE PROMOTED MORE.

TED SIMONS: HAS THE SHOW TAUGHT YOU ANYTHING AS A RESTAURANTEUR?

MARK TARBELL: SO MUCH. I MEAN FOR ME, AS A RESTAURANTEUR AND OTHER CHEFS CAN RELATE TO THIS, YOU KIND OF STAY IN YOUR OWN LITTLE RESTAURANT OR YOU GO HOME AND PUT A BLANKET OVER YOUR HEAD. NO, I’M KIDDING. BUT WE ARE IN THE BUSINESS SO GETTING OUT IS NOT THAT EASY. SO WHAT IT’S DONE IS PUSHED ME TO GET OUT AND SO FOR THAT I’VE HAD A CHANCE TO MEET SOME REALLY LOVELY PEOPLE AND ALSO BEEN INSPIRED BY THEIR PASSION AND THE FACT THAT THEIR OUT THERE DOING WHAT THEIR DOING. YEAH, IT’S BEEN GREAT.

TED SIMONS: WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEASON NUMBER EIGHT OF "CHECK PLEASE, ARIZONA". CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR SUCCESS TOO.

MARK TARBELL: THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

TED SIMONS: THAT’S ALL THEY TALK ABOUT. AREN’T YOU THE GUY FROM HORIZON? HOW DO I GET ON CHECK PLEASE? THAT’S ALL I GET. IT’S GOOD TO HAVE YOU.

MARK TARBELL: WE CAN WORK TOGETHER.

TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT. TOMORROW ON ARIZONA HORIZON IT IS THE JOURNALISTS ROUNDTABLE AND WE’LL DISCUSS A PLAN TO GENERATE MORE FUNDS FOR EDUCATION WITHOUT RAISING SALES TAXES AND A LAWMAKER WANTS TO SEE FURTHER RESTRICTIONS TO VOTER INITIATIVES. THOSE STORIES AND MORE FRIDAY ON THE JOURNALISTS ROUNDTABLE. THAT IS IT FOR NOW. I AM TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH WERE JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

“Check, Please! Arizona” is back with its familiar format, but with a whole new platter of food and people for its eighth season.

Hosted by Mark Tarbell, the show presents a group of friends chatting around a dinner table. Only in this case, as the host points out, most of these people are meeting for the first time because their shared passion for food has brought them together.

Similar to previous seasons, Tarbell says there will be a variety of restaurants, listing as one example “this wonderful African restaurant that’s just authentic Ethiopian food.” Tarbell talks about finding the balance of including big time restaurants as well as featuring the smaller, passion projects that are often run by only one person.

With many young and talented people coming to the Valley, Tarbell says the Phoenix dining scene has exploded. In support of that, the show highlights this booming culture that may not be as well known as it deserves.

“The intent of the show in my view is really promoting all these things that people might not have known about and creating a dining culture, a dining scene,” says Tarbell.

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Mark Tarbell: Host, "Check, Please!"

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