Jeff and Cindy Cook opened the cafe with the ever-changing menu last year and was soon joined in their venture by Dan Martin
For Jeff and Cindy Cook it was a place that immediately felt like home. Their plans were to find a quaint town to live and to open up their own restaurant. Cottonwood offered them a lot of potential. For them, Old Town was a location for their restaurant, where the overhead was not phenomenal and they can have a first-class restaurant that can compete with Phoenix or Sedona.
Here they felt a community feeling, one that harbors friendships and "regulars" which are invaluable to the success of a new business.
Jeff Cook contacted his good friend Chef Dan Martin, who was living in Denver. "You have got to come and see Cottonwood," Jeff told him as he discussed partnership with Dan in his new restaurant venture.
Dan came to visit and his impression was the same. It seemed like a nice place to live.
"I was wanting to be a part of a community, to get to know people," he says.
For Dan the timing was right. He packed up his belongings and relocated.
In May 2001 Cooks Market Cafe opened. Chef Jeff and Chef Dan work along side each other doing what they love to do. Both professionally trained, Jeff at the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park, N.Y., and years studying with Master Chef Mario Marinni, and Dan at Chateau Pyrenees, a five-star restaurant in Denver. He has 25 years experience as an executive chef at high end restaurants.
Both Chef Jeff and Dan agree that the more prestigious your title, the less you are doing of the hands-on cooking. As Chef Jeff states, "There were times where I was working with 125 chefs in a kitchen. At that point you become managers, delegating and training. You may get recognition, but you are no longer cooking and creating."
Chef Dan recently was offered am impressive job as a chef at a new resort. Although financially desirable, he too didn't want to lose sight of what he loves to do, to cook.
"When you work for a large corporation you are more of an administrator, for me that was not what I wanted," he says.
That is why the decision to open up his own restaurant with the Cooks was such am easy one to make.
Lori Cook adds, "We all love Cottonwood. The people are so friendly, they have become like an extension to our family."
Their food is exquisite and the menu is always changing. Chef Jeff explains, "That is why we call it the Market Cafe. We base our menu on what is fresh and available at the market, we buy really good ingredients and put it together in a good way."
Everything they prepare is from scratch. Their cuisine is not limited and they go out of their way to please the customers' palates. They have become famous for their chicken fried steaks.
Chef Jeff laughs, "I have made enough chicken fried steaks to pay for several college educations."
The three partners eyes light up when they talk about their future plans with the restaurant. With an outdoor patio, they plan on having a little outdoor restaurant with a simple separate patio menu. They also are interested in harvesting their own vegetable and herbs, and finding someone to raise ducks and geese.
"We love what we are doing and will continue to provide this community with a world class restaurant."
With their open kitchen to the dining room it lends itself to the personal warm atmosphere of the restaurant.
Lori explains, "We enjoy interacting with the customers, visiting their tables and insuring a friendly service that will keep them coming back."
Chef Jeff, Chef Dan and Lori are amazed at the consecutive miracles that have enabled them to achieve this dream. The response has been positive and this trio is committed to providing an eclectic variety of skillfully prepared meals for reasonable prices.
They are located at 1124 Main Street in Old town Cottonwood. Call for reservations at (928) 649-9552. They are open Tuesday through Saturday. Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Dinner is 5:30-8:30 p.m. The price of lunches ranges from $6.75-$12.75 and dinners from $8.95-$27.