Category Archives: Foodie

Stephanie Izard and Aaron Sanchez headline Nirvana Food & Wine

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa hosts the return of Nirvana bringing together celebrity chefs, local mixologists and California winemakers. Guests will enjoy  4 days of fine dining, mix and mingling with chefs Stephanie Izard and other events at the luxurious mountainside resort from April 19th – 22nd.

Resort executive chef Beau MacMillan will welcome back chefs Scott Contant and Todd English along with Aaron Sanchez and Chuck Hughes for the second year of this event highly anticipated event.

“Scottsdale is an emerging hotbed for culinary expression, and Sanctuary is the ideal backdrop to bring together the nation’s top talent. We look forward to building on our community’s passion for fine food and drink during this second installment of Nirvana,” said Michael Surguine, Sanctuary’s vice president and managing director.

Nirvana 2018

8 events are planned over the four days including dinners, tastings and a golf tournament. Below are the details of the days events.

Bourbon Street Blues

Hosted by mixologist Jason Asher; presented by Bulleit Bourbon

Thursday, April 19, 7-10 p.m.; Infinity Pool and Lawn; $150 per person.

Nirvana will kick off with a grand New Orleans-style festival, complete with a dazzling array of food and drinks. Live jazz will set a Mardi Gras mood featuring the Valley’s top mixologists. Guest are encouraged to dress in their best masquerade attire. Participating mixologists include Jason Asher, Brian Blevins, Maxton Kennedy, Bobby Kramer, Eric Wilson, and Libby Longlott. Chefs are Paul Boehmer, Audrey Enriquez, George Frasher, Brian Lieske, Beau MacMillan, Landon Post, and Lenard Rubin.

Master of Taste Dinner A

Hosted by chefs Matt Carter and Mark Stark; winemakers Rich Aurilia and Dan Kosta

Thursday, April 19; 7-10 p.m.; Casa Seven; $350 per person; limited availability

The Master of Taste dinners are intimate culinary experiences pairing top chefs from the Scottsdale area and California’s Sonoma County with a notable winemaker. The first of two such evenings will showcase the fine vintages of Napa’s Red Stitch Wines with owner Rich Aurilia, a former San Francisco Giants shortstop, and his wine mentor Dan Kosta of Kosta Browne. This very special event will be hosted at one of Sanctuary’s most luxurious private estate homes. Casa Seven’s dramatic glass wall affords dinner attendees a spectacular view of the valley below.

 Flutes & Coops

Hosted by chefs Stephanie Izard and Chuck Hughes, presented by Möet & Chandon and Woodford Reserve

Friday, April 20, 6:30-7:15 p.m. (VIP), 7:15-10 p.m. (general admission); The Sanctuary Ballroom and Lower Lawn; $225 VIP/ $150 GA per person

Fried chicken and Champagne prove to be an inspired pairing as an all-star line-up of local chefs put their own spin on the southern specialty, complete with side dishes, fine bubbly and live music thanks to American country singer/songwriter D. Vincent Williams & the Nashville All-stars. Festival-goers can book VIP admission to enjoy 45 minutes of personal time with their favorite chef. Participating chefs and mixologists include Lindsay Autry, Jacob Cutino, Rochelle Daniel, Michael DeMaria, Eddie Diaz, Ron Dimas, Jacob Ellis, Stephen Jones, James Garron, Kiefer Gilbert, and Bernie Kantak.

Master of Taste Dinner B

Hosted by chefs Dustin Valette and Christopher Gross; winemaker Tuck Beckstoffer

Friday, April 20, 7-10 p.m.; Casa Seven; $350 per person; limited availability

Nirvana’s second winemaker evening puts the spotlight on pioneering Napa vintner Tuck Beckstoffer and his eponymous Tuck Beckstoffer Wines. This intimate dinner will be hosted at Casa Seven, one of Sanctuary’s glorious private estate homes.

Celebrity Golf Tournament

Saturday, April 21, 8 a.m. registration and 8:45 a.m. tee; Mountain Shadows; $2,000 per foursome

Golf enthusiasts can tee off their day on Mountain Shadows, one of Phoenix’s premiere courses, with Nirvana’s fun-filled celebrity tournament. Each foursome will be paired with a renowned chef (including Sanctuary’s own Beau MacMillan), star mixologist or notable sports figure, with plenty of food, beer, wine and spirits on hand to fuel an unforgettable round.

 Rosé Parté

Hosted by chef Todd English

Saturday, April 21, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; $135 per person

A refreshing alternative for those who prefer pink to golf course green, this new-to-Nirvana event will pair fine bites with fashionable rosé against a backdrop of spectacular desert views.

Best of the West

Hosted by chef Scott Conant (Mora Italian) and mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim

Saturday, April 21, 6:30-7:15 p.m. (VIP), 7:15-10 p.m. (general admission); elements, Praying Monk, jade bar, Sunset Garden and Lower Lawn; $225 VIP/$150 GA per person

Nirvana’s closing night will bring together the best chefs in the West for a grand finale-worthy walk-around tasting that will take guests to indoor and outdoor settings throughout the resort. VIP attendees gain early access and extra time with the chefs, including Justin Beckett, Cullen Campbell, Ryan Clark, John Conley, Russell LaCasce, Branden Levine, Gio Osso, Jeremy Pacheco, James Porter, Joseph Rodger, Caleb Schiff, Matthew Taylor, and Chuck Wiley.

Tequila & Tortillas

Hosted by chef Aarón Sánchez and mixologist Maxton Kennedy

Sunday, April 22, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; elements, Praying Monk, jade bar, Sunset Garden and Lower Lawn; $135 per person

Because it’s always five o’clock somewhere, Nirvana’s Southwestern-style show-stopping farewell brunch promises tequila, tequila and more tequila. Festival-goers can shake off the sleep with palate-wakening Mexican specialties and live music to celebrate their final morning in paradise. Participating chefs: Rene Andrade, Jason Asher, Lee Hilson, Beau MacMillan, Aaron May, Julio Mata, Peter McQuaid, Doug Robson, Lenard Rubin, Samantha Sanz, Ana Garza and Suny Santana.

Ticket packages and purchase

There are several ticket packages available whether you want the full Nirvana Experience or pick and choose which events time permits. Resort packages are also available with more information and to purchase tickets at

The Bar opens in Arcadia with The Dude watching over

The owners that have brought the Phoenix restaurant scene Arcadia’s and downtown Phoenix’s Nook Kitchen and the revamped Dilly Dally Lounge have opened The Bar.

Located along the bustling Indian School Rd. down the street from their other Arcadia restaurants The Bar pours “The Big Lebowski” inspired cocktails and plates up approachable bar food.

Owner Frank Vairo says, “We’re excited to add The Bar to our growing restaurant group and happy to be a part of this neighborhood. The Bar is a kitschy place for innovative cocktails along with familiar bar-style food that’s been elevated with fresh ingredients and house-made menu items.”

The Bar
Photos courtesy of Annie Marum

Cocktails at The Bar

Fans of the late ’90s cult film The Big Lebowski are encouraged to stop in after bowling a few games to sip on unique cocktails such as the “Dudebro” which combine Absolut vodka,  St. George coffee and Irish cream or The Bar’s version of the classic Margarita “Go With the Flow” which combines Absolut Lime vodka, Deep Eddy lemon, Aperol, sweet & sour juice and splash of soda over ice.

Not feeling “The Dude” in you, classic cocktails such as an Old Fashioned and others are prepared with enthusiasm and skill.

Approachable bar food

Using locally sourced ingredients for his house made dishes, chef Nick Larosa takes bar food up a couple of notches as he prepares comfort food staples. Scratch made potato skins & onion rings, Thick Cut Bacon BLT and the Double Decker American Burger on Noble Bread to name a few.

His proudest menu item is his own creation, John Blaze Honey  Hot Wings also known as “JBHH”. Hot wing fans will appreciate chef Nick’s signature dish and will notice how seriously he takes his mild and blazing hot wings.

A Cookies n Cream Reese’s Pieces Sundae is a good way to cure your craving for something sweet for dessert.

The Bar is open daily from 3 p.m. -2 a.m. and is at 3174 E. Indian School Rd. in Phoenix. Check out there website for more information.


Aaron Chamberlain’s Taco Chelo opens March 9th along Roosevelt Row

Food is an art form in itself but many restaurants are creating space for other forms of art and downtown’s Phoenix’s new Taco Chelo combines food and art when it opens on Friday March 9th.

The team bringing Taco Chelo to life is restaurateur Aaron Chamberlain, artist Gennaro Garcia and chef Suny Santana.

“Taco Chelo celebrates great food as well as great art, creating an experience unlike anything else in the Valley,” said Chamberlin, of St. Francis and Phoenix Public Market Café fame. “In terms of culinary and artistic talent, we’ve got the real deal, and it’s showcased in our menu, on our walls and throughout the restaurant in its entirety.”

Taco Chelo art

The 1,000 square foot Taco Chelo was designed by the internationally acclaimed Garcia and the restaurant adorns his art work that includes custom-made pieces from Mexico.

“What we worked to create here is an experience that caters to all senses,” Gennaro said. “I see this restaurant project as an ongoing art installation and a collaboration of the visual and culinary arts”.

In the kitchen

Chef Suny Santana will be for sure preparing tacos, but his menu goes beyond that creating dishes he learned from his mother as child on a farm in Monterrey Mexico.

Recipes include chicharrones, chips & guacamole and pinto beans stewed with bacon and pico de gallo known as “frijoles a la charra”. Salads are also available as is beer, wine and cocktails.

Chef Santana and Taco Chelo already has a fan in Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, “Downtown is experiencing a renaissance, now home to world-class arts, culture, nightlife and great culinary concepts that showcase the flavor of Phoenix,” says Stanton. “Taco Chelo — a restaurant with an emphasis on both food and art — is a great fit for Roosevelt Row. I can’t wait to try what Chef Suny Santana is cooking up!”

Taco Chelo will be open Sun. – Thurs. from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Fri. and Sat. from 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. and is at 501 E. Roosevelt St. Phoenix 85004. 602-368-5316. For more information check out their website.



Two chefs are better than one at The Market Restaurant +Bar

We’ve seen a lot of chefs combine forces as one way to share the higher costs of running a restaurant(s) these days. The latest duo to design a strategy is local chefs Jennifer Russo of The Market Restaurant + Bar at Jennifer’s and chef David Duarte. The duo started this week with a culinary commencement dinner featuring both chefs preparing dinner for their “space share” concept.

Sharing space at The Market Restaurant + Bar

The “space share” strategy will allow the two chef’s to work independently while sharing the same equipment, dining room etc.  Jennifer will continue to serve brunch, lunch and dinner her customers have been coming back for.

The Market Restaurant + Bar will be open Sat. and Sun. from 9a.m.-3p.m. for brunch, Wed. Thurs. & Fri. from 11 a.m.- 10p.m.  and the 1st & 3rd Sat. for dinner from 5p.m. – 10p.m.

Chef Duarte’s new concept

Chef David Duarte’s “Finestre Modern Gastronomy” will serve dinner at The Market on Sun, Mon,Tues. and the 2nd & 4th Sat. from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Finestre Modern Gastronomy will serve a 5, 7, or 9 course seasonal menu that can be paired with or without wine. Prices will range from $60- $225 per person based number of courses and wine pairing.

“It’s truly my honor to share the space at The Market with David. He’s a culinary genius and will offer a stellar menu that is sure to wow guests,” said Russo.

The Market Restaurant + Bar is at 3603 E. Indian School Rd. #Ste. A Phoenix 85018. For more information and to make a reservation call 602-626-5050 or at

Chef Wade’s Mac-n-Cheese truck hits the streets of Phoenix

Your New Year’s resolution to eat healthy made have hit a speed bump as Chef Wade’s Mac-n-Cheese truck is now roaming the streets of Phoenix serving every bodies favorite side dish turned entrée.

When Chef Wade realized there was no food truck focusing on Mac-n-Cheese he converted his Bistro on Wheels to serve only cheesy noodle goodness. The decision was made easier as mac-n-cheese was his best-selling selling item for years.

“I wanted to take something simple that everybody loves and really turn up on the volume on flavor profiles and interesting ingredient combinations,” says Simpson of his new concept. “At the end of the day, it’s about making our customers happy and feeding them great tasting, good quality food.”

Chef Wade’s Mac-n-Cheese & more

Chef Wade has created some unique options for his truck including Truffle Mushroom Mac-n-Cheese, the spicy Southwest Mac-n-Cheese with green chiles and smoked pork, Lobstah Mac-n-Cheese and Nawlin’s Mac-n-Cheese with Andouille sausage, shrimp and Cajun spices.

Chef Wade has All American options on the menu including a Tomato & Bacon Burger topped with you got it mac-n-cheese, a Grilled Ham & Mac-n-Cheese sandwich on Texas Toast.

If you’re trying to stick to your New Year’s resolution Chef Wade offers a healthy & vegan option, Mac-n- Trees with broccoli, cauliflower, Butternut Squash and Cashew puree.

Classic Mac-n-Cheese can be customized to every bodies taste with additional toppings that include pesto, hot dog, bacon and more. For the adventurous eater order the Special Mac-n-Cheese and don’t ask for any specific ingredients and Chef Wade will surprise you.

Chef Wade’s continues to cater events around the valley serving customizable menus.

For more information see his website or call 602-301-8672



J’s Kaiyo Sushi and Bar brings together a culinary dream team

Housed in a former Arby’s restaurant just east of downtown Scottsdale J’s Kaiyo Sushi and Bar opened without fanfare as most restaurants do nowadays especially when you consider who’s creating the menu and making sure it’s executed the way it should be.

J’s Kaiyo owner Peji Malihi brought in chef Jason McGrath and sushi chef Todd Register to serve not only sushi but sharable dishes with a Mediterranean and Eastern influenced dishes.  Think Moroccan spiced lamb and crab stuffed and fire charred avocado rolled in exotic Asian spices and seeds.

J's Kaiyo
chef Jason McGrath. Photos courtesy of Chanelle Sinclair

J’s Kaiyo Sushi

All three are committed to the freshest ingredients including seafood for the sushi bar. So much so that the sushi bar is closed on Sunday’s because they can’t get their daily delivery of fresh seafood. Chef Register knows his sushi too as he comes to J’s Kaiyo from Roka Akor and RA Sushi and plans to use all fresh fish daily to maximize freshness and flavor.

“The focus is always on keeping the dishes fresh, clean, and simple,” McGrath says. “The only thing you’ll find in our freezers is our mochi ice cream.” As Malihi likes to say, “the roll speaks for itself,” there is no need for heavy sauces, creams, or batters to give their sushi mouthwatering flavor. “It’s all about sharing creative, quality food with the community,” McGrath says.

Family friendly and Izakaya

J’s Kaiyo is a family friendly restaurant named after Malihi’s son and McGraths nephew Jayden that includes a kid’s menu. McGrath practically grew up in the kitchen as his father Robert is an award-winning chef known for his work at The Roaring Fork and other local establishments and food festivals.

Adults will love the Japanese sake menu at J’s Kaiyo along with a full complement of craft cocktails, wines and beers. Communal drinking and sharing of sake known as “Izakaya” in Japan is encouraged as sake has a unique flavor profiles.

J’s Kaiyo Sushi and Bar is open Monday Friday for lunch & dinner starting at 11:30 a.m. and Saturday’s for dinner.

The restaurant is at 4412 N. Miller Rd.Scottsdale 85251 480-427-2526. For more info visit their website.


Famous 48 opens in November in downtown Scottsdale

Update: With a month under their belt Famous 48 will start serving brunch on Sat. & Sun’s possibly starting this weekend Dec. 2 & 3rd.

Square One Concepts wasted no time in filling the space left vacant by Crab & Mermaid earlier this year. Realizing people in old town Scottsdale prefer tavern style regional American fare the restaurant group will be opening Famous 48 on Monday November 6th.

Famous 48
Half roasted chicken and other photos courtesy of J. Martin Harris Photography.

Once opened Famous 48 will have an ambience that balances both casual and fine dining and will celebrate the regional cuisine of the lower 48 states of the United States including BBQ, seafood, pizza and other American classic comfort foods. The tavern themed menu will serve food cooked with fresh and high quality ingredients using an artisanal approach to cooking.

Signature cocktails, craft beers from Arizona and wines will compliment the regional cuisine.

Famous 48 hours

The restaurant will serve lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends in the leather booth line dining room and on the patio. Happy Hour starts early at 3p.m. til 6p.m. Mon.-Fri. and will include tasty bites to eat, premium cocktails and house wines.

Famous 48
Miso salmon

The open air patio will include fire pits and couches that will offer diners a more intimate experience.

Hours for Famous 48 will be Mon.- Fri. 11 a.m. -close, Sat. & Sun. 8a.m.- close. and weekend brunch 8a.m.- 2 p.m.

Famous 48 is at 4218 N. Scottsdale Rd. 85251 480-758-4994. To see the full menu got their website. Famous 48 is owned by Square One Concepts.