A new culinary team takes over when Ghost Ranch re-opens.

When the popular south Tempe restaurant re-opens in mid-January guests will see new faces in the front and back of the house. Executive Chef David Mora, Sous Chef Tyler Moonsoo and Pastry Chef Lisa Graf are new culinary team and General Manager Ashleh Robles runs the front of the house.

Mora will run the kitchen was born in Colombia and raised in Florida where learned to love the diversity of food. He started his restaurant career in Miami before making his way to Arizona. He’s worked at Flagstaff’s Copa Cafe, Mariposa in Sedona and was sous chef at Palo Verde and chef de Cuisine at The Spotted Donkey at The Boulders in Carefree. “I’ve spent more than a decade exploring the complexity of southwest cuisine and I am thrilled to bring what I’ve learned to Ghost Ranch,” Mora said. “I know the restaurant has quickly become a staple in the Tempe community and I hope to continue serving the area authentic dishes with innovative twists.”

Sous Chef Monsoo will help Mora develop and execute the dishes of Ghost Ranch. He has over 15 years of experience in Arizona at The Boulders, Ah-So Sushi and Steak, Obon Sushi and Ramen and Wrights Kitchen at The Arizona Biltmore from Waldorf Astoria.

Pastry Chef Graf rounds out the new culinary team. A native of Colorado, Graf draws inspiration from traveling as a teenager through Europe, learning and tasting local foods. Back in the states she re-located to Santa Fe, New Mexico to launch her culinary career as a pastry chef. After earning her pâtissier certificate she ran pastry programs at James Beard Foundation recognized restaurants La Boca and the Compound. She’s also worked at Mama’s Fish House in Maui and Scottsdale’s Roka Akor and Hotel Valley Ho.

Tempe native Robles takes over as General Manager running daily operations and administration. Starting her career in the hospitality industry at 17 she’s dedicated her career to to customer satisfaction and enjoyment. Her experience in psychology, finance and event planning give her know how to continue to keep customers happy. Customers will notice her creative cocktails, menu pairings and attention to detail in the dining room. She’s worked for more than 10 years in in several roles in high-end lounge, club and bar settings around town.

Ghost Ranch is at 1006 E. Warner Rd. Suite in Tempe. For more information visit their website.

Belle’s Nashville Kitchen brings honkytonk to Old Town

Old Town Scottsdale went a little bit country last month when honkytonk themed Belle’s Nashville Kitchen swung its doors opened. Comfort food classics with a Nashville twist are served day and night from award-winning Chef Samantha Robert’s kitchen.

Longtime Scottsdale residents may remember the building its housed in, the popular Lulu Belle’s, the Gay 1890’s themed restaurant and bar in the 1960s- 90s. The back bar still remains from its original use as owner Mike Haley wanted to celebrate the buildings history and kept the part of the name as a reminder along with the bar and front striped facade. Much of the wood is re-claimed from Haley’s patio at his home in California. It wouldn’t be a honkytonk without live music and dancing that is being phased in with local musicians. Guitars line the back wall as do wagon wheels on the walls opposite the bar.

Chef Roberts previously developed menus for Scottsdale’s Riot Hospitality Group (El Hefe, Riot House & Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row) where she won the 2017 Foodist Award for “Best Chef”. The menu includes Nashville favorites Kool-Aid Pickles, a Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich, Honkytonk Fries and Jambalaya. Other favorites include a Poke board and Mac n Cheese Sandwich. Don’t miss out on Pig Candy, thick cut bacon candied in-house and topped with Pralines. Weekend brunch is served with Hot Chicken French Toast, Belle’s Biscuits and Gravy and Cowboy Breakfast.

Whiskey and bourbon signature cocktails including the Cold Brew Old Fashioned, The Pal Manhattan are served as are other classic cocktails.

Belle’s Nashville Kitchen is at 7212 E. Main St. Scottsdale 85251. Their open Monday – Thursday from 11 a.m. – 1 a.m. Friday til 2 a.m. Saturday from 9 a.m. – 2 a.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. – 11 p.m. For more information visit their website.

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Wildflower adds new hearty menu items for winter

The locally owned specialty bakery known for its handcrafted artisan breads and more has added 8 new items to its menu. The festive foods include breakfast items, sandwiches, salads, pastas and toasts. There are 16 locations throughout Phoenix and Arizona.

Friendsgiving at Pedal Haus Brewery

Thanksgiving Eve friends and family can gather on the patio for a socially distanced celebration during happy hour. From 3:30 til closing on Wednesday November 25th enjoy happy hour specials, the new Peppermint Porter and live music. The celebration at the Chandler location goes until 10 p.m.

Aridus Wine Company ends its 8th harvest

The award-winning winery ends the 2020 grape growing season with almost 86 tons of grapes. This was their 4th harvest picking grapes from the estate’s 40 acres of vineyards in southern Arizona that started on August 22nd. 72% of the grapes picked will be for red wines, 26% for white wines and 2% for rose.

FRANCINE Restaurant opens patio for dining

You can now enjoy lunch, dinner or brunch at the French Mediterranean restaurant outside on the new patio. Located at the luxury wing of Scottsdale Fashion Square seats 28 people in the relaxing and beautiful setting. Seating is by request with reservations recommended.

Serrano’s closes Tempe location until early 2021

The 6440 S. Mill Ave. location has closed for dine-in and take-out to undergo a major renovation. A major renovation needs to completed and the 4 other locations are open for dine-in, take-out and curbside delivery.

Christiaan Rollich & chef Samantha Sanz join Sanctuary on Camelback

Paradise Valley’s Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa added two reputable personnel to their food & beverage team Executive Chef Beau MacMillan announced. Chef de Cuisine Samantha Sanz returns to where her culinary career started as one of the first female chefs. Mixoligist and author Christiaan Rollich comes to the luxury resort from the Los Angeles restaurant and cocktail scene.

“Sam and Christiaan represent the next generation of tastemakers and the perfect team to move our culinary program forward,” said MacMillan. “Both have built impressive careers through sheer grit and passion. Both are at the top of their game. And they share a deep respect for each other’s craft that will drive their collaboration as they create a full-circle experience between kitchen and bar for our guests.”

Two-time James Beard award nominee Sanz was last the Sous Chef at Talavera Restaurant at the Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North. After graduating from Scottsdale’s Le Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts she worked at Elements where she impressed MacMillan with her talent, passion and culinary prowess. She then went to Virtu Honest Craft in Scottsdale before to the Four Seasons Scottsdale.

“I am thrilled to be back at Sanctuary—my culinary roots—and to give fresh expression to the vibrant flavors and colors here,” said Sanz. “The opportunity to work so closely with Beau and Christiaan to fully integrate the culinary and bar programs is particularly exciting to me and recognizes the power of food and drink to connect us all.”

Arizona welcomes Christiaan Rollich

Netherlands native Christiaan Rollich started working in the bar industry at Les Deux Cafe to earn extra money while pursuing a acting and modeling career. He authored BAR CHEF: Handcrafted Cocktails in 2019 and Forbes called him “one of LA’s most innovative mixoligists” and is credited by LA Weekly with starting the city’s cocktail renaissance while at celebrated restaurants A.O.C and Luques.

“I love working closely with chefs, studying their techniques and bringing them to the world of drink,” said Röllich. “I can’t wait to see what Beau and Sam will bring to the table flavor-wise, and look forward to exploring and reinventing so my cocktails match their food.”

Lumberjack’s Taco Shack on Food Network’s Supermarket Stakeout

Four year old Lumberjack’s Taco Shack has taken to the streets and heading to your TV. Owner Cash Murphy rolled out of his taco shack in Tempe into a food truck in recent weeks and tonight he’s featured on the Food Network’s “Supermarket Stakeout”.

There will be a viewing party for tonight’s episode at Club Red in Mesa with Lumberjack’s Taco Shack food truck. Dinner starts at 5 p.m. running until 11:30 with the episode airing at 10. Large screens inside Club Red are set up and the bar is open with social distancing. Get your tacos while you can because Murphy heads to Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin for the summer before returning to Arizona in October.

During the recent pandemic Murphy loaded up his food truck with an ice cream PA on it announcing his arrival in the neighborhoods selling his tacos. He has several Facebook pages and Youtube channels featuring his cooking. On his Cooking with Cash channel and page he teaches people how to cook at home on a limited budget, PANdemic- Recipes for Quarantine. The videos have been very popular and he hopes tonight’s appearance will continue to spread the word of his award-winning tacos.

To taste the tacos and view Supermarket Stakeout tonight visit Club Red at 1360 W. University Dr. Mesa 85201.

 

The largest BBQ event west of Texas moves to Tumbleweed Park

Update: Postponed, no new date set!

When the 11th annual KNIX BBQ & Beer Festival opens the gates at 12 noon on Saturday March 28th it will be at new location. The BBQ event has moved to the larger Tumbleweed Park in Chandler with 50,000 people expected to attend.

The festival is attracting pit-masters from around Arizona and the country for what’s been awarded “outstanding event of the year”. Over 12 cocktails and beers will be showcased to wash down your spicy, sweet & tangy smoked meats and more. Local BBQ joints include Bobby Q’s, Can’t Stop Smokin’ BBQ, Farm Boy Foods and Tom’s BBQ.BBQ event

Lee Brice and Craig Morgan will co-headline the event presented by iHeart Media and 102.5 KNIX. Country music fans will enjoy non-stop music from multiple stages throughout the 10 hour event. Country superstars Locash and Caylee Hammack will perform along with local talent Jim Bachman & the Day Drinkers, Blaine Long, Drew Cooper and Jacob Morris. Festival goers can enjoy the “For the Love of BBQ” Lounge, VIP tent, Kid Kick Back Zone or other areas.

“This is an incredible musical line-up,” said Landon Evans, owner of HDE Agency. “We are thrilled to partner with iHeart and KNIX to be able to bring this star-studded festival to Chandler for one of our largest events of the year.”

Tickets are on sale now and range in price from $15 for General Admission up to $150 for VIP. To purchase tickets or get more information for the largest BBQ event west of Texas head to their website. Tumbleweed Park is 745 E. Germann Rd. in Chandler.

Aioli Gourmet Burgers 2nd brick & mortar location coming to Litchfield Park

Come early April fans of award-winning Aioli Gourmet Burgers can head to Fry’s Marketplace when they open their second location. The Litchfield Park location will be the first in the west valley after their Shea & 32nd St. location in Phoenix. Culinary Institute of America graduate Tommy D’Ambrosio started Aioli Gourmet Burgers in 2013 with childhood friends and a food truck.

“Our entire team is so excited to finally be opening a second location in partnership with Fry’s Marketplace. This has been almost a year in development, and we can’t wait for the store to open for our westside fans. We hope that this will be the first of many Fry’s Marketplace locations across Arizona,” said Kyle Hollenbeck, Co-Owner, Aioli Gourmet Burgers.

The unique chef driven burgers are popular on the food truck and festival scene with the White Truffle Swiss and Italiano. Loaded fries, milk shakes, beer battered onion rings and more are served at Aioli. Tommy’s won “Chopped” and has won “Best Burger” in The Phoenix New Times “Best of Phoenix” and in burger competitions. Before coming back to Phoenix to start the food truck Tommy apprenticed at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. The restaurant group has other food truck concepts that will become restaurants including Modern Tortilla and Oak Wood-Fired Pizza.

Chef Tommy D’Ambrosio

“We are looking forward to Aioli Gourmet Burgers joining the Fry’s family,” says Monica Garnes, President of Fry’s Food Stores. “It’s a great operation with an award-winning history, and we think our Litchfield Park customers are really going to enjoy the experience.”

Fry’s Marketplace is at 13730 W Camelback Rd, Litchfield Park, AZ 85340. For more information visit their website.

 

Pedal Haus Brewery to start tapping beers in downtown Chandler

Tempe’s award-winning Pedal Haus Brewery is getting ready to tap the first beer at its new location in downtown Chandler later this month. It’s the 2nd location of the brewery that started making craft beer on Mill Ave. in downtown Tempe in 2015. Beers will be brewed in Tempe and will be delivered daily to the Chandler location. Pedal Haus Brewery

“We love the community in downtown Chandler and felt this was a great fit,” said Wright. “Chandler has been very welcoming, and we are excited for our first expansion beyond our Tempe location.” says owner Julian Wright.

Once opened guests can expect signature dishes such as smoked wings and smoked salmon found at the Tempe location. A limited released Salted Nut Brown Ale will be tapped at opening with all proceeds donated to the Chandler Compadres. The Chandler based charity donates time, money & resources to Chandler and east valley families and children in need.

Brewmaster Derek Osborne will oversee both locations line-ups of rotating beers that has won over 32 awards and medals.

A grand opening is scheduled for March 7th with half of food and beverage sales between 2-6 p.m. going to the Compadres. Customers will be given a raffle ticket for every $10 spent dining in for a Pedal Haus bike on Sunday.

Pedal Haus Brewery is at 95 W. Boston St. Chandler

Off the Vine Arizona Wine Festival back for its 7th year

Over 25 Arizona wineries will be pouring their award-winning wines Saturday 15th 2020 for the 7th annual “Off the Vine” Arizona Wine Festival at the historic Steam Pump Ranch in Oro Valley. The Arizona Wine Growers Association is hosting the festival that will also feature food trucks, live music, local artists and more.

“Off the Vine has quickly become one of our biggest events of the year, and after seeing record-breaking attendance in 2019 we’re expecting an even bigger crowd for 2020,” said Kris Pothier, president of the AWGA and owner of Chateau Tumbleweed. “Steam Pump Ranch and the surrounding mountains provides such a beautiful setting for wine lovers to experience wines from across the state and even meet the winemakers themselves, who are often in attendance.”

off the vine
Photo credit to Jenelle Bonnifield

Pillsbury Wine Company, Rune Wines and Oddity Wine Collective are a few wineries traveling from around Arizona to the ranch built in the 1800s. The bluesy big band sounds of the Peter Swan Trio will provide the playlist for the 7 hour festival that starts at 11 a.m.

Early Bird tickets are $25 and include 8 sampling tickets and a commemorative glass can be purchased here. Day of event tickets is $30.

 

Salut Kitchen Bar owner shows his European flair with new look

When Romain Lauro bought Salut Kitchen Bar two years ago he brought with him over 25 years of restaurant experience. For the Lyon, France native his love for food came early, at the age of 3 and easily as Lyon is the capital of the food world. Much of his life Lauro worked for his father serving ice cream at young age then taking over at his father’s fine dining restaurant Comme en Provence. He sold the restaurant after 20 years to fulfill his dream of coming to the United States.

“As a longtime restaurant owner in France, I am committed to bringing the elements of the high-quality dining experience to Salut Kitchen Bar,” said Lauro. “From adding new lights to changing the interior to a light, relaxing color scheme, I want Salut to be a place guests can enjoy an affordable, but delicious scratch made meal in a comfortable atmosphere.”

Salut Kitchen Bar
Saltimbocca di Marsala. All photos courtesy of PBS Studio 3 and Amanda Moore at Evolve Marketing.

What’s new at Salut Kitchen Bar

Salut Wine Bar is known for scratch made Mediterranean and American cuisine and been awarded “Best Wine Bar in Tempe”. Known for bruschetta, salads, sandwiches, gourmet tapas and an extensive wine list from around the world.

Most changes guest will see are to the interior and exterior of the restaurant. Wood accents, new lighting, landscaping and more will give guests an excellent wine and dining experience. Chef Trayton Hutchinson oversees the kitchen and makes sure the food is up to Lauro’s high standards.

Salut Kitchen Bar offers daily lunches for $9.99, daily happy hour from 3 -6 p.m. and weekly specials. Wednesday’s give guests the opportunity to choose a bruschetta board or Salut sampler & a bottle of wine for $25. Weekend brunch is offered from 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Salut Kitchen Bar is at 1435 E. University Dr. Tempe 85281. For more information and to stay up to date on weekly specials visit their website.