As a teen, Scottsdale resident Jeremy Pacheco spent his summers with his brother working on his father’s cotton farm in Marana.
As early as 4 a.m. they would walk up and down the fields and pull morning glories and weeds.
“We were called ‘hoe hands,’” Jeremy recalled, adding with a laugh, “It was very long, boring and hot.”
The Pacheco family’s Arizona roots go back 10 generations and since spending his summers pulling weeds and driving the tractor to the field and spraying weeds – “we broke a lot of stuff,” Jeremy admits – Jeremy has traded his weeding gloves for a white, crisp chef’s jacket embroidered with the title “Executive Chef.”
Having worked for several renowned establishments throughout the Valley, including the Phoenician and LON’s at the Hermosa Inn, Jeremy’s quick to attribute his successes to his father, Lyall Pacheco.
“I remember him being a really hard worker and working all the time, and a lot of what I got from my dad from farming was a work ethic that’s carried through with me today,” Jeremy said.
It’s this same work ethic that Lyall learned from his own father, Art Pacheco Jr., who farmed as much as 3,000 acres.
“He taught integrity,” Lyall said. “He taught me how to have a good work ethic, just like Jeremy said. And that’s what the main thing was, is to stick it out and work hard and do your job.”
Jeremy is now the executive chef and culinary director for Genuine Concepts.
Previously, he spent seven years as executive chef at LON’s at the Hermosa Inn, and also worked at the Phoenician before working at Society Café at Encore and SW Steakhouse at the Wynn.
“What he’s done is overwhelming. It’s unbelievable,” Lyall proudly, yet incredulously said of Jeremy’s culinary career. “I don’t know how he does it.”
At Genuine Concepts – the neighborhood-focused restaurant group behind the Vig, the Little Woody, The Womack, Ladera Taverna y Cocina, and The McMillan – Jeremy will oversee all brands and menus.
His goal while reworking said menus, he said, is to evolve the restaurants into culinary destinations.
For example, “the Vig’s been known for being a great bar with food and we really want to push it to being great food with a cool bar, too,” Jeremy said.
In addition to revamping the menus, Jeremy plans to gradually integrate as much local product as possible – as he did at LON’s, where he used durum wheat from his father’s farm for the restaurant’s house-made gnocchi.
The wheat from his family’s farm was milled by Hayden Flour Mills in Queen Creek specifically for use at LON’S.
“We’ve already started,” Jeremy said of incorporating local product into the Genuine Concepts’ restaurants’ dishes. “I’m actually using Sonoran Pasta Co. on our menus now, which they’re using Hayden Flour Mills and local wheat for their pasta.”
Jeremy said working the family farm helped emphasized just how important local products are and how important it is to use local ingredients in his dishes.
“I know how much work goes into growing it, even just the cotton, the wheat. I know how much those farmers are going through to get it to our employees, and I really appreciate what they’re doing,” Jeremy said, adding,
“It’s the appreciation I have for the hard work that goes into it that I want my kids to understand — that tomatoes don’t just come from the store.”
Jeremy and his wife, Vicki, have two sons: Nathan, 9, and Tyler, 6.
They not only made baby food for Nathan and Tyler, but Jeremy and Vicki also, more recently, built and planted a garden in their backyard to teach them to have an appreciation of food.
Since they started the garden in February, they’ve grown all sorts of fruits and veggies, such as watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers, tomatoes and zucchini.
“They come out and help me pick tomatoes in the morning,” Jeremy said.
Of course, their backyard garden isn’t nearly as sprawling as the family farm, which consists of 1,000 acres of cotton and 750 acres of wheat.
“They really enjoy coming out and seeing how huge it is and how huge the operation is,” Lyall said, adding that Nathan and Tyler visit the farm a couple times a year. “It’s just beautiful to see. Like when the cotton’s ready to pick, it’s beautiful.”
While Jeremy doesn’t anticipate his sons will pursue the same career he did, he does hope to influence his kids the way his own father did.
“I just hope to be able to instill in them the same work ethic that I learned from my family and my father,” Jeremy said.