Storytellers Steakhouse is located at Cliff Castle Casino. Call 928-567-7905 or visit www.cliffcastlecasino.net.
© Nick Berezenko
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Soup's OnThere's nothing ordinary about Storytellers Steakhouse in Camp Verde. Not the chef, and certainly not the soups, which include concoctions such as chilled chocolate hazelnut.
By Roger Naylor
Camp Verde Many restaurants try to garner instant credibility by hiring well-traveled celebrity chefs. Storytellers Steakhouse in Camp Verde did something different. They plucked a guy from the neighborhood, trained him, and let the crowds and accolades roll in.
"I never thought I'd be a chef," Nathan Schreiber says. "My father was a state park manager. He was at Fort Verde and Slide Rock, and I thought that's what I'd do."
While in high school, Schreiber (below) began working at the A&W in Cottonwood. When the little eatery became McClain's Diner, he managed it for seven years. Afterward, Schreiber landed a job as line cook at Cliff Castle Casino, which gave him a chance to work with a wide range of chefs. He absorbed all they could teach, and quickly rose through the ranks to become executive chef of Storytellers, the fine-dining anchor of the casino.
"If you can be successful selling 99-cent bacon cheeseburgers, you apply those same business ethics to more creative endeavors," Schreiber says.
Storytellers welcomes visitors with its soft, dreamy ambience. Slide into an intimate cave-like booth and prepare to be dazzled. Choices include fresh seafood, Kobe beef burgers, Provençal-stuffed chicken Wellington and an array of fork-tender steaks, such as the applewood bacon-wrapped filet. One of the most popular dishes is a mesquite-smoked achiote pork chop. It marinates for two days in a medley of achiote paste, pineapple juice and assorted spices before being cold smoked, then grilled.
The purchasing power of a casino operation means Schreiber doesn't have to cut corners.
"We're able to use the highest quality ingredients and work with vendors that are consistent with that quality," he says. "If you had a filet two years ago, when you come in for another, you'll immediately recognize the same great taste."
While diners won't find a 99-cent menu, meals are still affordable, especially considering the plate-draping portions. In an era when many high-end steakhouses have gone to à la carte pricing, every entrée at Storytellers comes with vegetables, a choice of potato, and soup or salad. Under no circumstances should you miss the soup.
Different versions are prepared daily, and each one is a flavor-intense concoction. From steak and fajita to Cajun seafood chowder to chilled chocolate hazelnut, the soups at Storytellers are a culinary revelation.
"Soups are fun because you can go in any direction," Schreiber says. "You're free to create and can end up with something totally unexpected."
And ending up somewhere unexpected has been the delicious story of Chef Nathan Schreiber's life.