Café a la C’Art’s owner Mark Jorbin is a true Tucson native and a veteran of many of Tucson’s best restaurants. After graduating from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute Jorbin started his own catering business 20 years ago, which evolved into opening the café for breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch in the historic Stevens House on the grounds of the Tucson Museum of Art.
What was the first dish you had that changed your perspective on food?
Caesar salad, Chateaubriand and cherries jubilee all done table side at a French restaurant while I was still in high school. I had no idea food could ascend to such a magnificent level.
What are you eating these days?
Lots of protein rich foods, especially steaks on the grill, fresh salmon and lots of grilled vegetables with olive oil and Middle Eastern seasonings.
What was the first dish you remember cooking?
I started down my culinary path baking lots of cookies, cakes and pies. I probably would have been a pastry chef except I got more interested in preparing meats and sauces.
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What concept, ingredient or food trend does everyone seem to love, but you just can't stomach?
I'm not crazy about tiny molecular food. I like home cooking and comfort foods. Things that are classically based, especially French, Mediterranean, Spanish and anything Greek.
What chef, with us or passed on, would you most like to cook or eat dinner with?
Julia Child, she's someone you could totally feel comfortable with sitting down at a table sharing some good food and wine.
What city, other than Tucson, is your favorite place to eat?
San Francisco, by far. There’s something about enjoying such a diverse array of foods and being close to the water in such a beautiful city that make the food taste amazing.
Speaking in junk food terms, what is your favorite guilty pleasure?
The crispy fried chicken livers at Lucky Wishbone with the little white cup of cocktail sauce for dipping. Also, I like the pink and white iced animal cookies with the colored sprinkles but don’t tell anyone.
Top three Tucson restaurants?
Ikkyu – Japanese Casual – miso ramen is amazing, especially in the winter.
Wild Garlic Grill – I think Steve Schultz does a great job and is usually behind the stove doing most of the cooking.
Mei Mei – my go to for Chinese take out after a really long hard day of work when I don’t feel like cooking. It's always on.
With a figurative electric chair in your immediate future, what is your last meal?
My mom’s lasagna. Nothing takes me back to the sanctity of my childhood quite like it.