The name says it all, WILD Arizona Cuisine, a concept in cookery that makes good use of what comes from the region. Owner Brett Vibber compares his philosophy to just a way of life in Italy. For example, it makes sense to him that they source black truffles in northern Italy at certain times of the year. And they match their menus to what the seasons and weather bring to the table. He does the same at Wild Arizona Cuisine by way of pop-ups, interactive campouts, private dining and various collaborations with wineries, restaurants, and other partnerships.
Growing up camping and cooking were at the forefront of Chef Vibber’s life. He learned about foraging and how it could influence a meal from a young age and immediately grasped an appreciation for it. This connection with his primal self allows him to enjoy things like gardening and fishing while reaping the benefits of richer nutrients.
At the age of 14, Vibber started his career as a pizza cook learning his way around the kitchen. As he got older, he got the travel bug and started working in restaurants all around the world. Italy stands out most for him because of the relationship the country has with food and wine. As his culinary skills flourished, he took a turn working at Michelin Star restaurants. Ultimately, Vibber took the teachings from the many different chefs he worked with and combined them with his own talent and passions to make something of his own. He ultimately rebranded a Cave Creek restaurant and called it Cartwright’s Modern Cuisine and focused on local and foraged ingredients. Although on a much larger scale, he was doing what he wanted to do.
Eventually, his wild nature guided him from the campsite to state-of-the-art kitchens and back again. Being true to his roots Vibber closed Cartwright’s in 2020 and focused on WILD Arizona Cuisine. Depending on the contract, party and size of the group, Vibber and his partner create menus from what the land provides. They forage, fish and fabricate meat for people to indulge in while experiencing the story of the food. Once a month they host a wild cuisine dinner with Pillsbury Winery at the vineyard in Willcox or the tasting room in Cottonwood. Not only will they design and cook at your private event, but they also work government contracts at refugee camps as well as fire camps to feed firefighters.
“Breakfast, lunch and dinner gets taken up hot. I can’t think of better people to serve food to than someone who’s protecting us and our homes,” said Vibber.
Moreover, he reminisces of his days as a wrestler and sees an obvious correlation between that and cooking. They are both an art, require precise technique and are places where commanderies are most enjoyed. The mental focus and teamwork are a huge part of making food – the thought of using a smart oven and fewer people doesn’t appeal to Vibber.
“I can’t imagine just setting a button and a timer. I’m not gonna take my eye off if it’s not gonna burn because I have that connection with it,” he said, adding that a program that doesn’t need cooks is terrifying to him. “I like fishing boats and I have a captain and I know my role. Ranching, farming, fishing, cooking, wrestling I enjoy – I didn’t play tennis – the one-man sport. I’m familiar with teams and doing things together.”
Bringing things full circle, Vibber talks about wine and its relevance to food. Wine has been with him along this journey since around the age of 22 when he got his first crash course in pairings. The more you experiment with the many layers of their togetherness, the more it’s rare to think of one without the other. And, as they say in Italy, where Vibber credits a lot of his light bulb moments, “food is wine, and wine is food.”
If you are interested in booking WILD Arizona Cuisine for a private event, contact Vibber via messenger on his social media Facebook page WILD Arizona Cuisine or @WILDarizonacuisine.