Chef Chris Knouse loves his job as executive sous chef at The Wigwam in Litchfield Park.
“I love the culture here,” he says. “There’s so much history and the people alone — they’ve been here for 20 to 30 years. That’s the norm. It’s one giant family.”
The former sous chef at Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn, Knouse shares that family vibe with diners and his suppliers at Litchfield’s, the resort’s fine dining restaurant. He shares the wealth with local farmers, who support his farm-to-table philosophy.
“It’s a bonus being on the westside,” Knouse says. “The westside is full of farmers. It’s smack dab in the middle of farm country. We decided to get in with some of the local farmers and get some really good produce.”
He says he is a firm believer in shopping local and finds it important to do so, especially during the pandemic. One of his suppliers is Crow’s Dairy in Buckeye, which provides goat cheese.
“We use fresh ingredients that are local as much as possible,” he says. “We really love our Cedar River prime ribeye. We get it in Tolleson. It just melts in your mouth.”
The menu at Litchfield’s is changed seasonally, which keeps Knouse engaged and the dishes interesting. The menu these days features maple leaf duck ($34), Scottish salmon ($36), Harrison Farms chicken ($33) and the 28-ounce cowboy ribeye ($120).
Featured appetizers are bruschetta ($10), Berkshire pork belly ($16), yellowfin tuna ($16), Pharaoh quail ($20) and the chef’s board ($25).
Knouse is a longtime chef who moved to Arizona 16 years ago from Iowa. He attended Arizona Culinary Institute and loved cooking.
“They had a really great program, a rapid program,” he says. “It was only for about nine months. I’ve been cooking for almost 15 years. I was just really happy to find a program that was quick.”
At Lon’s, Knouse took what he learned at Arizona Culinary Institute and applied it to the restaurant’s menu.
“It was a great way to practice,” he says.
The Wigwam is about more than food, drink and golf. Knouse is pleased that holiday events have returned. The resort hosted its annual tree lighting on November 26, and that included photo ops with Santa, holiday crafts with Santa’s elves, dance performances, stories by characters, and a petting zoo.
Litchfield’s is hosting Breakfast with Santa throughout December — December 4, December 5, December 11, December 12, December 18 and December 19. The price is $30 for adults or $15 for children younger than 3.
On December 3, December 10 and December 17, The Wigwam welcomes guests for Holiday Nights in Lights, during which time the front lawn and rock garden path are illuminated. Fire pits and s’mores kits will be available.
For those who want to imbibe, Making Spirits Bright Saturdays allow guests to stroll along the festive light path for tastings of wine, whiskey, aperitifs and rum while accompanied by holiday music on the fire pit patio. The cost is $15 for four tastings from 6 to 9 p.m. December 4, December 11 and December 18.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners at Litchfield’s include a three-course prix-fixe menu and live piano music. The cost is $74 adults, $26 children. Lunch buffet on Christmas Day will also be served in The Wigwam ballroom for $62 adults, $26 children.
“It’s so nice that events are back,” Knouse says. “Normalcy is coming back.”
300 N. Wigwam Avenue, Litchfield Park