— History —
Arizona's Only Classically-Trained French Chef
Considered by many to be Phoenix's culinary prize, Vincent has been combining his expertise in classic French cooking with Southwestern ingredients for over 30 years. Vincent's love for cooking began in his youth in France, where he worked at L'Oustau de Baumanière in Les Baux de Provence, and Maxim's and Fauchon in Paris. He came to the U.S. in 1976 to be sous-chef at Chicago's Le Français, and within 10 years opened his own restaurant here that helped put Phoenix on the culinary map.
Vincent gained national acclaim at his first restaurant (which he did not own) in Pinnacle Peak, Arizona. In the early 1980's, then food editor of The New York Times, Craig Claiborne wrote, "If one may judge a restaurant on the basis of one visit but in the company of five other guests each of whom ordered a variety of dishes, I would declare Vincent's to be exceptional." In those early days, Vincent's food was nothing like his style of cooking is today. His early years reflected his background in classically prepared French haute cuisine. After Vincent moved to Phoenix, he began to see the possibilities of cooking with the cornucopia of southwestern ingredients.
As he learned about ingredients that were new to him like chile peppers, corn, cilantro, and masa, he was able to produce a hybrid cuisine based on the most exacting French techniques. During that period, many chefs hopped on the southwestern bandwagon that was beginning to gather speed, but none possessed the training or discipline of Vincent, who was able to apply a lifetime of French technique and craft to each recipe and presentation. By careful thought and constant attention to detail, Vincent created an entirely new cuisine. Southwestern cookery had been developing along the lines of a marriage between California novelties and traditional concepts of Mexican food, but it was Vincent who focused his cooking to absorb the flavors of the Southwest into a refined, sublimated cuisine that no one else in America had attempted before. In January of 1986, Vincent opened his own restaurant, Vincent on Camelback, which is still at its original location in Phoenix.
Vincent was the first chef ever to receive a Citation of Excellence from the International Food & Wine Society. He has enjoyed countless commendations, including the James Beard award as "America's Best Chef: Southwest" and in 2018 was elevated to the very prestigious rank of Officier in the National Order of Agricultural Merit — L'Ordre du Mérite Agricole on behalf of the Republic of France. For more than a decade, Zagat has ranked his restaurant "most popular" and "best in area" and Mobil Travel Guide has awarded it four stars. Gourmet magazine, Conde Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure all have lauded Vincent and his restaurant for his tempting food and attentive service. In 2003, Vincent's on Camelback was placed 24th on the World's Top 50 Restaurants by British based Restaurant Magazine.