This weekend’s launch of JBF Women of AZ shows off the partnership of 15 talented women chefs as Phoenix is one of 10 cities participating in the national alliance “Let’s Talk” from The James Beard Foundation Women’s Leadership Program. “Let’s Talk” is the brainchild of Chicago’s Rohini Dey, Ph.D., owner of Vermilion and trustee of the JBF whose goal is to bring women restaurateurs together for collaboration and support.
This weekend (sold out) and the weekends of January 22nd & 23rd and 29th & 30th you can order a special 3-course meal from 5 groups of chef’s preparing each course of the meal. Each three- course meal feeds two people and is $55 with meals needing to be ordered online by 10 p.m. the Wednesday of each week for pick-up on Friday or Saturday night.
By collaborating the women are learning from each other, sharing ideas and helping to support locally owned businesses during the pandemic.
The 15 Phoenix area women led restaurants participating in the JBF Women of AZ are……
Maya’s Cajun Kitchen
Cotton & Copper
The Farish House
The Joy Bus Diner
Songbird Coffee House
Hana Japanese Eatery
Tracy Dempsey Originals
The Market by Jennifer’s
Nonna Urban Eatery
The Breadfruit & Rum Bar
To see the menus & chefs, place an order and pick-up instructions head to their website.
You can’t keep the valley’s restaurant scene down as new restaurants continue to open. In October we saw the opening of Chantico in central Phoenix and Match Market & Bar in downtown Phoenix among others. New to north Scottsdale is The Craftsman Cocktails & Kitchen with Chef Christopher Nicosia running the kitchen.
Foodies should remember Chef Nicosia from the closed Italian restaurant Sassi and his induction into the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame. “Our menu is unlike anything even seasoned foodies have seen before,” said chef Nicosia. “The Craftsman puts a modern twist on conventional American dishes. From infusing dishes with craft beer and in-house distilled spirits, to including as many locally grown ingredients as possible, this menu allows me to pair quality with creativity.”
Situated in a bustling retail center at Hayden Rd. and Thompson Peak Parkway, The Craftsman serves up traditional American fare with global flavors is inspired by a hard working farmer and grandfather who loved his family, the land and working with his hands.
The Craftsman Cocktails and Kitchen dishes and spirits
On a recent visit for happy hour I couldn’t stop eating the house-made chips with queso dip, wished I’d ordered more than two AZ Hot Chicken Lollipops with barrel aged hot sauce and tasty blue cheese slaw and Scallop Toast. A full menu of innovative dishes includes Bone-In Volcano Pork, Tuna Poke Sandwich and Lamb Belly Sausage Flatbread.
The Craftsman Cocktails and Kitchen also offers its own line of distilled spirits. Vodka, gin, rum, barrel aged amaro, bourbon and coffee liquor are available to sample and purchase. Currently distilled off-site they will soon distill the spirits in-house. Craft beers and wines are available in what will be a go-to neighborhood joint for good food, drinks and atmosphere.
The Craftsman Cocktails and Kitchen is at 20469 N. Hayden Rd. Scottsdale AZ 85255. For more information visit their website.
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.”
Quick sips of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.
Hopdoddy Burger Bar gives free burgers to First Responders
Wednesday, October 28th is National First Responder’s Day and the Camelback & Scottsdale locations are responding. Show your badge or come in uniform for a free Classic burger or cheeseburger when you dine-in or take-out.
Marcellino Ristorante begins Fall Wine Dinners
The downtown Scottsdale restaurant known for homemade pastas and authentic Italian cuisine has its first dinner on Tuesday October 27th. Paired with Italian wines chosen by sommelier Dario Soldan of Classico Wines, Chef Marcellino decides on what to serve at the 4-course dinner the day of. Prepaid seats are $75 ++ per person for the 6 p.m. dinner and can be reserved by calling Bettina at 480-990-9500.
“Crazy for Curry” then head to Thai Chili 2 Go
Until Wednesday October 28th, curry fans can get a bowl for half price when a bowl is purchased at regular price. Red, yellow, green, Massamann and Panang curries are available at all locations for pick-up and delivery.
Nashville Hot Chicken Pizza now available at Fired Pie
All 20 locations of the fast casual pizza restaurant are now selling the new specialty pizza. Made with house-made dough Nashville Hot sauce, mozzarella cheese, then topped with Nashville Hot Chicken, spicy cole slaw & chopped Dill pickles. It can be made with regular, cauliflower and gluten-free dough.
Hotel Valley Ho launches The R + R Show virtual cooking class
Executive Chef Russel LaCasce and hotel General Manager Ronen Aviram debut their first free episode of their monthly cooking, cocktail and recipe podcast. Details of each month’s classe and link to the podcast can be found at an earlier post.
Looking for new recipes to impress friends and family look no further than new virtual cooking classes coming from Hotel Valley Ho Executive Chef Russell LaCasce. The R+R Show will feature Russell and his “Sous Chef” hotel General Manager Ronen Aviram preparing dishes with recipes and ideas for cocktails and leftovers viewable one Friday a month.
The free classes debut October 23rd with the VH Chopped Salad. Future virtual cooking classes include Petaluma Chicken on Nov. 20, the Hawaiian Poke Bowl on Dec. 18, The John Berry on Jan. 22, and Charbroiled Ribeye on Feb. 26. All classes are viewable at http://www.hotelvalleyho.com/. Private viewable classes are available for groups and private celebrations.
Also happening at the Scottsdale hotel will be a celebration of the tropics on Tiki Weekend October 30th – November 1st. Dust off your favorite Hawaiian shirt and tropical attire for a luau Friday night. Enjoy live music, a pig roast & tropical cocktails, hula dancers, fire dancers and more under the palm trees of the Palm Court. Tickets are $129 per person include chef prepared food, 3 drinks and a festive lei.
Halloween night put on your best tiki inspired costume for a Tiki-Mask-erade Party. The guest whose costume gets the loudest applause will be the winner. Enjoy cocktails, small bites, DJ music and of course Halloween candy outside in the Main Place Courtyard and hotel’s ballrooms. $99++ per person includes 4 drinks, small bites and candy. Space is limited to all events with social distancing enforced as will mask wearing unless seated. Special room rates are available starting October 27th and will include a welcome cocktail and $50 resort credit. See the website for details and to reserve your room.
Fork & Dagger Hospitality, the company that owns Pedal Haus Brewery has announced they’ve hired valley chef Jared Porter as Director of Culinary Operations. Porter oversees all food operations at the Tempe and Chandler brewpubs and at a new Phoenix location opening in 2021. His responsibilities include menu development, sourcing of ingredients and management of the culinary team.
“As a longtime Valley resident with deep ties to the culinary community, it is an incredibly exciting opportunity to join Julian Wright and the Fork & Dagger Hospitality team as they continue to grow their influence on Arizona’s food and beverage landscape,” Porter said. “I am looking forward to being a part of the already award-winning team at Pedal Haus Brewery as well as all future concepts within the hospitality group.”
The culinary resume of Jared Porter
Jared Porter started his culinary career over 20 years ago attending the Art Institute of Phoenix on a full scholarship. After graduating he worked at high profile restaurants Vincent’s on Camelback, Michael’s at The Citadel and Fiamma at The James Hotel. He’s successfully helped open La Grande Orange Grocery, Olive & Ivy and his own Clever Koi in 2013. Most recently he’s been executive chef at Buck & Rider.
“We are honored to have Jared bring his extensive culinary expertise to our hospitality group to further enhance our restaurants’ menus and culinary experience,” said Fork & Dagger founder and CEO Julian Wright. “His depth of knowledge has already proved invaluable and we are thrilled to have him join our team as we continue to bring more great restaurants to the Valley.”
The award-winning brewery is popular with beer enthusiasts since opening their Tempe location in 2015. Under Brew Master Derek Osborne they’ve won a gold medal at The Great American Beer Festival and named Best Brewery in the United States at the 2019 Copa Cerveza de Americas. Over 32 gold medals and awards have been earned by the brewery for their beers.
Things are moving right along at the new Scottsdale restaurant from Laurent Halasz, FRANCINE. The restaurant has named local Brian Archibald as executive chef and is holding a job fair July 7th & 8th. At first the restaurant will open for dinner on August 14th at Scottsdale Fashion Square’s new luxury wing then will open for lunch & brunch in September. The restaurant planned to open in April but delays were caused by the coronavirus shutdown. Laurent Halasz owns other restaurants in L.A. and other locations.
Archibald will work alongside Halasz at the new fine dining Mediterranean restaurant inspired by the south of France. Archibald has almost 30 years of cookimg experience at The Phoenician, Boulders Resort and JW Marriott at Desert Ridge Resort & Spa. He’s also worked at several top resorts around the world.
“When you walk into the dining room we want our guests to feel like they’ve been transported to the French Rivera. We have created a relaxing and warm coastal feel with casual elegance and similar to the atmosphere, FRANCINE’s cuisine will feature all the seasonal flavors one would find in the Mediterranean prepared in a very soulful way,” said Archibald.
When I caught up with chef Derek Upton for lunch recently I was surprised our paths hadn’t crossed before with our mutual interest in food, cannabis and the local restaurant community. Spending over an hour speaking with him about everything from food, cannabis & CBD, music and cell phones I realized we will be hearing more from him in the future.
Growing up in Fresno, Derek took to drumming at an early age at church. He didn’t think it would take him around the world playing for national acts, into the recording studio or playing his last gig at the American Music Awards. When life on the road began to take its toll he went to pursue a second act as a chef. Growing up in an Italian Portuguese family helping to cook meals at home he knew what he wanted to be back in the kitchen.
He wound up in Phoenix after touring with Scoti Slate and returned after attending The Institute of Technology in Clovis in 2012 and 2013 where he studied culinary arts and the business side of the restaurant industry. Derek made a name for himself in Phoenix working at Evo, Cafe Monarch, Original Gravity, The Windsor, Beckett’s Table and most recently The Breadfruit. He’s been the private chef to celebrities David Spade, Henry Rollins, Michael Rapaport and Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Derek Upton cooks with cannabis
Educating himself on the benefits of cannabis and CBD became personal. It’s changed his life and ignited his passion for it as he once weighed over 500 lbs. He’s dropped over 150 lbs. since his journey started and wants to lose 150 more. As cannabis becomes legalized around the country Derek found that cooking with cannabis is what he wanted to do. Cannabis is more than the psychoactive THC that many associate with the plant and he’s looking to redefine the stereotype. Educating others of its health benefits in cooking and telling his story is how he’s going about it.
Using Instagram and other social media platforms, Derek parlayed his use of cannabis in cooking and being hired for private cannabis dinner parties to opportunities on TV. His recent appearance on Netflix’s “Cooked with Cannabis” was the start of another chapter in his life. Unlike most chefs who aspire of owning their own restaurant Derek wants to continue to cooking for others in a private setting and producing cooking shows and videos. Although cooking with cannabis is his specialty he does cook without it as well. Our lunch fell between conference calls where he’s discussing media and ambassador opportunities for the next phase of his career.
He does a lot behind the scenes connecting cannabis related businesses to one another to help move the cause forward. He’s currently filming his own TV show “Stay Hungry” and is on Instagram and Facebook at Chef Derek Upton.
In a response to closing all restaurants ordered by Governor Ducey to combat the spread of the coronavirus, the Arizona Restaurant Association announces the start of an ongoing Arizona Takeout Week. Effective today restaurants can only serve food for takeout and delivery along with beer & wine. Some restaurants had already closed their dining rooms to focus on takeout and delivery.
“We appreciate and thank Governor Ducey for his efforts in working with the restaurant industry to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus,” says Arizona Restaurant Association President and CEO Steve Chucri. “The Arizona restaurant family appreciates his work and that of all elected leaders in our state during this unparalleled time in our history.”
There are more than 200,000 jobs in the restaurant industry in Arizona and with locals ordering take out it’s the only way these restaurants can stay in business.
“At the end of the day, we are the industry of ‘happy’ — that is what the hospitality industry represents. We hope to bring a bit of happiness to Arizonans during this extremely difficult time through Arizona Takeout Week while keeping our employees and restaurants afloat,” Chucri says.
I’ve have 2 posts about restaurants around Arizona who are serving food and wine for takeout. Below are additional restaurants serving takeout meals around Arizona. For more information visit the Arizona Restaurant Association website and for any restaurants looking to participate in Arizona Takeout Week email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rusconi’s American Kitchen
Phoenix City Grille
Jewell’s Bakery and Café
S&V Urban Italian
Trapp Haus BBQ
Original Breakfast House
Chef and new culinary director at the Hyatt Phoenix Brandon Drummond is no stranger to hotel life having worked for Hyatt Hotels around the country for the past 15 years. He come from the Hyatt in Greenwich, Connecticut to run the culinary team at Compass Lounge & Restaurant, Arizona’s only revolving rooftop restaurant.
The downtown hotel is finishing a multi-million dollar facelift and they’ve hired Drummond to re-vamp the menu at their signature restaurant. He brings his experience working in culinary management in the Hyatt family in Washington D.C., Bonita Springs Fla., New Orleans and San Antonio to his new role.
Both the lounge and restaurant will see new dishes including fresh seafood and regional ingredients. In the lounge guest will have the chance to order Buttermilk Fried Quail, a Charcuterie Board and more. The new menu includes Quick Cured Duck and Elk Chops in addition to other new dishes and longtime favorites.
New cocktails include the Strawberry Blonde made with Meyer lemon vodka, house made simple syrup and strawberries. The Bramble Rose mixes Maker’s Mark bourbon with house made rosemary simple syrup and blueberries.
Meet Chef Drummond when he participates in Plated and Staged at the Herberger Theater on Sunday March 29th. The annual fundraiser benefits for the theatre’s youth outreach program. The program exposes youths to culinary programs and the performing arts.
The Compass Lounge & Restaurant the Hyatt Phoenix is at 122 N. 2nd St. Phoenix 85004. Visit their website for more information.