Kitchen Doors: A Driving Force
Arizona native Matt Carter has been a leader in the local culinary scene for more than two decades as executive chef and partner in some of the Valley’s most popular eateries.
After high school, Carter spent a summer working at a breakfast restaurant in San Diego, which inspired him to go to Scottsdale Culinary Institute. After graduating, he worked at a French bistro in Old Town Scottsdale and quickly knew he wanted to focus on French cuisine, so he moved to Paris for almost two years.
After living in France, Carter returned to Phoenix and worked for acclaimed chef Christopher Gross for over six years, working his way up from line cook to sous chef to chef de cuisine.
Gross changed Carter’s perspective and influenced his future. “Christopher was an amazing mentor who helped me see the big picture and fall in love with the business,” Carter said.
While employed by Gross, Carter gained an appreciation for a variety of cuisines while working at events with renowned chefs like Douglas Rodriguez and Roberto Donna. While cooking at a fundraiser with Gross, Carter met Thomas Keller and got a job at the world-famous French Laundry in Napa Valley. After a year in California, Carter returned to Phoenix and worked at Michael’s at the Citadel, where he met his business partner. They opened Zinc Bistro at Kierland Commons in North Scottsdale in 2002.
After the success of Zinc Bistro, Carter was looking to open another concept. Inspired by Rodriguez, an idea for a taco shop evolved into The Mission in Old Town Scottsdale in 2007. In 2016, he opened Fat Ox, incorporating what he had learned from Donna about Italian cuisine and dining. Shortly after Fat Ox opened, Carter opened a second location of The Mission at Kierland Commons near Zinc Bistro. Carter’s restaurants employ more than 450 people.
“It’s fantastic how Arizona’s culinary scene has evolved, and a major factor is our ability to have a variety of ingredients delivered, like fresh seafood, as well as the growth of local suppliers for produce, meat and other items,” Carter said. “In the last 10 years, guests are becoming more educated and driving chefs and restaurants to be on the cutting edge of food and beverage trends, which has made local restaurants even better.”
What’s next for Carter? “When I think about new restaurants, I think about what doesn’t exist locally,” Carter said. “I get ideas from other places as to what I can bring to Phoenix. That’s why I opened Zinc Bistro over 20 years ago, because there was nothing like it in North Scottsdale at the time,” he said. Carter has a lot of ideas, and the Arizona culinary community can’t wait to see what he opens next.