Resort & Spa’s restaurants

Two of the Boulders Resort & Spa’s restaurants — Palo Verde and Grill Kitchen & Bar — will serve Christmas dinner with traditional and modern choices.

Boulders Resort & Spa executive chef Drew Wetmore does not consider his role “work.”

“It’s like playing,” Wetmore said. “I play every day.”

In his role, he oversees the resort’s five kitchens, including the Palo Verde Restaurant, Grill Kitchen & Bar, Spotted Donkey Cantina, Spa Café, the Discovery Lounge and Pool Pavilion. 

He is redeveloping the menu and plans the food preparation so it respects the region’s integrity by incorporating local produce and freshly foraged ingredients from the resort’s certified organic garden.

“Chef Drew takes much of his culinary inspiration from nature,” said John Maskovich, food and beverage director. “He has even modeled the new plate design from surrounding landscape.” 

Wetmore joined the Boulders culinary team in 2018 and has held titles of executive sous chef, banquet chef, chef de cuisine for the Grill Kitchen & Bar and the Spotted Donkey Cantina, where he initiated the tequila dinners and Cinco de Mayo celebrations. 

A Tucson native, Wetmore was a student-athlete as a teenager who had an affinity for the culinary arts. He credits the FEAST program at Catalina High School for refining his culinary talents. 

“I started in the business when I was 14,” he said. “I started at a breakfast restaurant in Tucson called The Egg Connection. Honestly, at that job, I was a young kid, and it was just money. I wanted to pay for stuff myself.”

He later earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute. His externship at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess included working with some of the top country’s chefs, like Michael Mina, Richard Sandoval and Forest Hamrick. 

Through Sandoval, he learned about molecular gastronomy, the scientific approach to nutrition from the perspective of physics and chemistry. 

“Working with Richard Sandoval was really inspirational,” Wetmore said. “It’s basically food chemistry. You use different starches and other ingredients to create food in a way you don’t normally see.”

Palo Verde offers views of the Sonoran Desert, as it overlooks the sixth fairway of the south course and the duck pond. Wetmore called Palo Verde “elevated comfort good.”

“It hits that safe place that they like,” he said.

The entrees include baked pasilla pepper with quinoa, manchego, golden raisin and red pepper vinaigrette ($38); squid link linguini with wild red crab, Calabrian chili, verjus butter and fresh picked herbs ($42); mesquite spiced grilled beef filet with green garlic puree, petite heirloom potato; russet espuma, wild mushroom, cipollini onion, charred baby pepper and truffled beef jus ($62); braised short rib with barbecue carrot, Sonoran wheat berries, carrot butter, front pesto and marcona almond ($46); steelhead trout with spiced corn silk, blistered baby tomato, grilled corn succotash, guajillo chile glaze and petite green coriander ($45); seared striped bass with herbed fregola, pea butter, smoked pancetta, heirloom radish and upland cress ($46); and local ranch chicken with smoked fingerling, braised leg, salsa verde and charred lemon ($42).

Boulders boasts other top-rated restaurants, including Spotted Donkey Cantina, a Mexican restaurant at el Pedregal. The festive eatery has a tequila list with dozens of varieties, like its exclusive Herradura Reposado tequila, and an innovative menu.

The Discovery Lounge is all about comfort, with shareable dishes and contemporary cocktails, as well as the views from the floor-to-ceiling windows.

The Grill Kitchen Grill Deck & Bar is casual yet elegant, featuring an exhibition kitchen, dark wood furnishings, a fireplace and a renovated patio area. With views of the 18th hole fairways, the establishment has a menu of burgers, sandwiches and crisp salads, along with fresh seafood and dry-aged steaks.

Wetmore’s executive chef duties also call for him to schedule dinners at Boulders’ private villa rentals and haciendas. He offers three- to six-course meals that range in price from $110 per person to $300 per person.

“I got out in the villas and cook and walk the guests through what I’m doing,” said Wetmore, who lives in North Phoenix with his fiancée, Emily, and their four dogs. 

“They can experience high-quality meals. They could be high-end groups or families coming out for vacations who want a chef to cook with them and talk about it. 

“I like educating people. I know a lot of techniques that people don’t normally see. I show them that it’s not really that difficult to cook. Once you learn the process, it’s not that hard.” 

Holidays at the resort

Boulders Resort & Spa is offering holiday meals this Christmas.

Palo Verde will serve Christmas dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 25 for $75 per person. Call 480-488-9009, ext. 110, for reservations. 

Appetizers are steadfast baby arugula salad with caramelized goat cheese, Mount Hope organic spelt, orange almond gremolata and champagne vinaigrette.

For an entrée, guests can choose from cast iron-seared lamb loin with barbecue carrot puree, truffle baby potatoes, roasted Steadfast carrot freeze-dried manuka honey, herbs and fermented garlic lamb jus. 

Wrap up the meal with Edelweiss torte — vanilla biscuit, raspberry coulis, white chocolate mousse, crunchy hazelnut praline and raspberry glaze. 

Christmas dinner at the Grill Kitchen & Bar is served from noon to 7 p.m. for $75/adults or $40/child. For reservations, call 480-595-4621.

Appetizers include fall greens, mixed baby greens salad with shaved baby vegetables, roasted heirloom beets, toasted almond, cranberries and maple vinaigrette; or roasted parsnip bisque with carrot curls, herbed mascarpone, forest fronds and butter toasted crostini herbs.

Traditional entrée choices are glazed Christmas ham with sweet brown sugar glaze, crème fraiche whipped potatoes, crisp Brussels sprouts and whole grain mustard, or rosemary and black garlic spiced prime rib with herbed baby potato, Parmesan creamed spinach, horseradish cream and black garlic au jus.

A dessert trio will feature red velvet torte, chocolate marble cheesecake and Edelweiss bar.


Boulders Resort & Spa

34631 N. Tom Darlington Drive, Carefree