Jonathan Landeen is Chef/Owner/Restaurateur of the famed Jonathan's Tucson Cork, known as much for his iconic mustache and chef's hat as he is for his fine-dining, Southwestern cuisine. He has been a staple in the Tucson restaurant scene for more than 30 years, with his namesake endeavor nearing its 20th anniversary as a must-dine fixture. I asked him nine questions about, what else, food.
What was the first dish you had that changed your perspective on food?
My parent's classic Thanksgiving dinner. The expectations of the meal are so much higher than your everyday dinner. The fact that family, friends, slow-comfort food are at the forefront is what it's all about.
What are you eating these days?
A lot of sushi and fresh fish. I am still really into soups. Anything light and refreshing.
What was the first dish you remember cooking?
Beef Stroganoff. My father used to make it. The richness of the mushrooms and sour cream are great for kids and adults alike. It's a classic you don't really see much anymore.
What concept, ingredient or food trend does everyone seem to love, but you just can't stomach?
Everybody is Kimchi-ing everything. I mean, it's alright, but I don't really get it.
What chef, with us or passed on, would you most like to cook or eat dinner with?
I had the pleasure of eating and cooking with Bud Judd of the Tack Room. If I had to pick one, I would cook/eat with Paul Prudhomme again. I trained with him in New Orleans. He was really an inspiration to me. I think about food all the time, and he thinks about food more than I do.
What city, other than Tucson, is your favorite place to eat?
San Francisco or New Orleans. I guess I would have to go with New Orleans, because they have the most regional specific cuisine, and it's a riff on home cooking.
Speaking in junk food terms, what is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Ice cream. Any and every kind. If I have ice cream in the house, I don't for long. Especially if you pair it with a cookie or a brownie. Yummm.
Top three Tucson restaurants?
I don't go out to eat much but I do like lunches at Kingfisher. We occasionally go to dinner at Vivace or Café Torino, because I don't cook a lot of Italian food. I also like sushi bars close to my restaurant like Kazoku or Sachiko.
With a figurative electric chair in your immediate future, what is your last meal?
Well, I know I would start with some champagne and caviar, and maybe some lox. I would also end with some champagne and caviar. For my entrée, I'd like a Maine lobster, and dessert, I think my almond roca over dulce de leche ice cream on top of a deep dish apple pie!