Rick Frederico’s resume is impressive, with roles including senior vice president and concept head for Macaroni Grill (and later president of the Italian Concept division); co-founder, partner, and vice president of Grady’s Goodtimes; CEO of P.F. Chang’s; and serving on the board of directors for Domino’s—to name just a few.
In 2022, Frederico teamed up with Tom Donmoyer and Ric Gorden to open their newest concept, Thompson 105 Woodfired Grill + Cocktails, and American neighborhood locale in McDowell Mountain Ranch.
In response to his innovation and success, Frederico was recently awarded the Elliot Award for Impact, which recognizes leaders who have created a huge difference in the industry.
His impact is greater than just the restaurant industry, as well. Frederico is a founding member of Chances for Children, which supports and inspires hope to the children of Haiti who have been separated from their parents, including helping with clean water, food, medical care, and more.
We caught up him to talk about work, life, and food.
How did you end up in the food industry?
Actually, by accident. While in college, I worked in a Steak & Ale restaurant as a server and a grill cook. Just prior to graduating, my father, who was not in the restaurant business, bought and opened a small Italian restaurant. I was working there during the summer when the manager quit and moved to Canada. That is the day I became a restaurant manager.
What prompted you to open Thompson 105?
My great friend, Tim Donmoyer, lives just down the street from Thompson 105. It was a closed restaurant and he kept calling saying we needed to open something. I had long retired from running a large restaurant company and kept saying, “No, thanks.” Well, that lasted until I met him at the location and saw the spectacular view of the McDowell Mountains.
What do you feel makes the restaurant special?
We have very good food, featuring a wood-burning rotisserie and grill. We do not buy anything pre-prepared. We make everything every day in the restaurant, including spinning fresh pasta. We do pride ourselves on being a great neighborhood restaurant so that even if you don’t live in McDowell Mountain Ranch, you will drive to find us. The entire restaurant and patio are designed to take advantage of the phenomenal views of the McDowell Mountains.
Your favorite dish on the menu?
I have several, but it depends on how and who I am dining with. If I am coming in for a casual dinner with my wife, I order our wood-roasted Prime Rib Sandwich, but if it is more of an evening out, I might opt for our fresh roasted Salmon or Chicken Parmigiano.
You recently won the Elliot Award. Can you explain what it is and how you feel about winning it?
Humbled is the first word that comes to mind. There have only been a couple of other industry recipients, including my long-time mentor, Norman Brinker. To be included in this small group of Elliot Award winners is quite an honor.
You helped found a nonprofit called Chances for Children. What prompted that?
Twenty-plus years ago, my wife Peggy and I adopted our two daughters from Haiti—on top of the three sons we already had. Shortly after bringing the girls home, I was chatting with my friends Craig and Kathi Juntunen, who then went to Haiti and adopted three kids. When Craig and Kathi asked if I would help start a foundation to support the children in Haiti, it was an easy decision to say yes. What started as a single orphanage now feeds over 6,000 children a day in communities across the country, has built a pediatric community clinic, teaches sustainable farming, has a women empowerment education program, and provides microloans to help them start small businesses. We have also built community schools and churches—just to name a few of the things we focus on. We take each community where day-to-day survival is an issue to a level of stability, and with our support, move them on to becoming sustainable communities.
How can we help?
I would point folks to the Chances for Children website at http://www.chances4children.org/. If you have a passion for supporting children, any donation will be put to great work. Over 90% of every dollar donated goes directly to the children in our community, and everyone on the team has a strong passion for bringing the best support possible to the communities in Haiti.
If you’re not eating at Thompson 105, you frequent …
Similar to what I order, it kind of depends on the experience we are going out for. If more of a celebratory event, I love Steak 44 or Ocean 44. If it’s last minute, “let’s go grab dinner,” we enjoy several of Sam Fox’s restaurants.
Motto you live by?
“To whom much is given, much will be required.” Peggy and I have been blessed with many things, but especially five great children, and now will soon welcome our ninth grandchild.
Anything else you’d like to share?
We have been very lucky. We love living in Arizona, have raised a great family in the Valley, have created and sustained many lifetime friends, and are fortunate enough to know enjoy all of it on a regular basis.