Laurent Halasz hires Brian Archibald as executive chef at FRANCINE

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.

FRANCINE is hiring 60 employees and the job fair will be from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Those interested can email resumes to jobs@francinerestaurant.com or find more information at https://francinerestaurant.com/ FRANCINE is at 4712 N. Goldwater Blvd. Scottsdale 85251.

Chef Derek Upton goes from drumming to cooking with cannabis

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.

chef Derek Upton
Lamb dish from “Cooked with Cannbis”

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.

 

Arizona Restaurant Association responds with Arizona Takeout Week

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.

The ARA thought up the idea as they organize the popular bi-annual Arizona Restaurant Week.

“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 takeout@azrestaurant.org

Federal Pizza
Rusconi’s American Kitchen
Phoenix City Grille
Jewell’s Bakery and Café
Pita Jungle
Little Woody
Wildflower Tucson
S&V Urban Italian
Blanco

Koibito Poke
Liberty Station
Provision
Trapp Haus BBQ
Original Breakfast House
Urban Margarita

Compass Lounge & Restaurant welcomes new chef Brandon Drummond

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.

Epicuriad 2020 has 15 chefs cooking for children’s brain tumor research

Billed as where “Top Chefs Vie for Food-Pairing Glory”, Epicuriad 2020 will have more than 15 local chefs competing to win the coveted Epicurean chefs jacket while raising money for the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation. Harley Davidson of Scottsdale will host the 8th annual event on Saturday May 2nd at 6 p.m.

Each chef will be tasked with creating a dish that will pair well with a specific beer and wine. Attendees will vote for ” Best Plate” and “Best Pairing” crowning a winner. Money raised will benefit research and programs for brain tumor and patients put on by the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation.

Tickets for Epicuriad 2020 are limited and can be purchased at their website. General Admission tickets are $85 and VIP is $100. Harley Davidson of Scottsdale is at 15656 N. Hayden Rd. Scottsdale 85260.

 

New restaurants join the line-up for Arizona Restaurant Week

If you score a reservation for the 13th year of Arizona Restaurant Week you’ll be lucky you did as its one of the most popular culinary events on the Arizona food scene. Spring 2020 ARW starts Friday May 15th until Sunday May 24th where foodies can try new dishes at favorite restaurants or visit a new restaurant. Over 40 restaurants have signed to date with 7 restaurants making their debut on the list.

Twice a year (Save the date Sept. 18th- 27th 2020) the Arizona Restaurant Association hosts ARW to showcase chefs and culinary accomplishments of restaurants big or small. Each restaurant prepares a 3 or 4 course menu exclusively for the week for only $33 or $44. Several restaurants include wine or cocktail pairings for an up charge.

Returning and new restaurants

New to this year’s line- up include….Josephine, Sel, Meritage Urban Tavern, The Dressing Room, House Brasserie & Tuck Shop Kitchen and Bar. They join those returning ….Los Sombreros, Alexi’s Grill, Arrowhead Grill, Salty Sow, Urban Margarita & ZuZu Restaurant to name few.

“We are so proud that Arizona Restaurant Week continues to be such as a popular and well-attended event that our locals and out of town visitors look forward to each Spring and Fall,” says Arizona Restaurant Association president and CEO Steve Chucri. “ It is our privilege to have a hand in bringing Arizona’s culinary excellence to the forefront for 10 delicious days and to give our local restaurants a platform to present some unique and creative dishes that aren’t always offered on their daily menus. We feel this gives chefs a chance to really showcase their creativity in new ways.”

To see the full list of restaurants visit the Arizona Restaurant Week website. The list is being updated daily and menus will be uploaded once finalized.

 

 

Billy Ray Cyrus and award winning chefs headline Sunset Sessions

Update: Sunset Sessions concerts & culinary festival cancelled due to flooding. Car auction proceeding as planned.

A new culinary experience comes to town along with Billy Ray Cyrus when the Mecum Collector Car Auction parks at State Farm Stadium. The Sunset Sessions are during the evening of Friday & Saturday, March 13th and 14th and will feature Phoenix chef Anthony Serrano enlisting celebrity chefs to prepare delicious dishes for the 2 two night event.

The theme for Friday is “The Melody of Sonoran Flavors” that will feature farm to table dishes native to Arizona. Saturday you’ll be “Rock ‘n’ Tacos” feasting on unique tacos and sliders made with American Wagyu beef from Hassell Cattle. Joining chef Serrano will be Derek Upton who has worked with Chef Justin Beckett and cooked for celebrity clients. David Duarte has cooked in Italy and professional BBQ’r Josh Dae will be cooking. Chefs Suzanne Clark and Pete Sivano, editor and publisher of Girls Can Grill chef Christie Vanover and Kita Roberts a.k.a. Girl Carnivore round out the culinary team.

Billy Ray Cyrus
Chef Anthony Serrano

“Partnering with the best collector car auction company in the world and creating this exclusive culinary and music event is a can’t-miss opportunity for the Phoenix area community,” said Jim Freudenberg, Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at the Innovative Group, which is partnering with Mecum Auctions to produce this new event. “We are bringing the world’s top culinary event to the Valley of the Sun and providing the finest unlimited menu of food, libations and music.”

Billy Ray Cyrus and how to get tickets

Billboard Award winning band Lifehouse will take the stage Friday night and country music star Billy Ray Cyrus on Saturday. Gates open at 6 p.m. with live music starting at 6:15 and the headliners on stage at 7:30.

Tickets are $150-$350 and include entrance to the auction and unlimited food and drinks. VIP experience with private suites and personal chef interactions are available. State Farm Stadium is at 1 Cardinals Dr. Glendale 85305.

 

Foodies don’t care about a little rain at Day 1 of Devour Culinary Classic

Many of Saturday’s events around Phoenix were cancelled but don’t mess with foodies and our food festivals but that’s what the weather gods did on day 1 of Devour Culinary Classic. A rainy morning forced Desert Botanical Garden staff, Local First Arizona and purveyors to scramble to but it didn’t deter those in attendance. Umbrella, tents and raincoats were busted out to minimize the rain and puddles.

Here are a few of the many highlights of day 1. Be sure to check back for sunnier day 2 and for more images and commentary check my Instagram @SandyWass  Facebook page & Twitter @SandyWasserman

Bar Magic serving up Hurricane Cocktail in the VIP Lounge with Mardi Gras theme
foodies
Prep & Pastry Churro Cronut & Blueberry Scone
foodies
Scandinavian Sushi coming to Scottsdale later this year from Sandfish Sushi & Whiskey
foodies
AZ Wilderness PB & J Burger
foodies
A leaky tent didn’t dampen the spirits of L’Auberge de Sedona Chef Morgan serving her delicious dessert
foodies
T. Cooks Arcadia Orange Bombe- white chocolate, Grande Marnier mouss, hazelnut & citrus curd
foodies
Dust Cutter Restaurant’s confit pork belly, masa, chorizo & roasted poblano gremolata
foodies
Lincoln Steakhouse Surf & turf- Lobster Escargot & Beef Tongue Popover
Love seeing all the color exhibits and art at the Desert Botanical Garden

Devour the World kicks off Devour Week 2020 in Peoria

Local First Arizona’s popular Devour Week 2020 kicks off the celebration of Arizona restaurants with its first event in Peoria. Devour the World makes its west valley debut on Saturday February 15th at Peoria City Hall’s Centennial Plaza. Devour the World showcases the international cuisines, music and cultures found around Phoenix.

“From flavors that can only be found on the islands of Jamaica to the great vistas of the Navajo Nation, this is the perfect event to explore the rich diversity that makes Arizona so special and share it with friends, family, and community,” says, Kimber Lanning, Local First Arizona Founder.Devour the World

The four hour event starts at 11 a.m. and is a partnership of the City of Peoria, Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance and Local First Arizona. Beers of the world will be poured in the beverage garden and over 24 restaurants and food trucks will be offer foods from over 12 countries. Music and dancing from different countries will be performed with cultural activities and workshops with local ambassadors are also featured.

A few of the restaurants participating include….

Cool Vybz Jamaican Restaurant- Chef Kelso Raymond

Everest Momo- Chef Subash Yadav

Salvadoreño Restaurant- Chef Yesenia Ramirez

Happy Buns- Chef Jay Kwan

“Peoria’s events scene continues to get better and better, and I am thrilled to have this multicultural, culinary experience coming to the heart of our city,” says Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat. “I can’t wait for family and friends to gather as they ‘Devour the World’ together.”

Tickets for Devour the World are $55 and include food samples and libations. Tickets can be purchased along with more information about other events at the Devour Phoenix website. Peoria City Hall is at 9875 N. 85th Ave. Peoria 85345.

Top Chef John Tesar coming to 2020 Nirvana Food & Wine Festival

Update: Rescheduled to October. Purchased tickets good then, details to come.

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa has announced the dates and schedule of events for the fourth annual Nirvana Food & Wine Festival. April 16th -19th Chef and Nirvana host Beau MacMillan welcomes celebrity chef’s Robert Irvine, Scott Contant and Bravo Network’s “Top Chef” winner John Tesar. Celebrities including Rob Riggle and The Bella Twins and other chefs will be hosting and having fun with guests along with chefs and mixologists from around Arizona.

“This event is one that is so near and dear to my heart,” said MacMillan. “Having the opportunity to celebrate outstanding culinary talent, mixology, music and more alongside some of my closest friends and fellow foodies is a true privilege. Nirvana really offers something for everyone and that’s a big part of what makes the festival such a special experience.”

The annual festival celebrates food, wine, music and spirits in a most luxurious resort in the valley and has become a very popular festival in only three years.

Top Chef

Tickets for the five headlining events are available with additional events and after parties still may be added to the weekend’s festivities.

Thursday, April 16- Wood, Wine & Wagyu presented by Far Niente 

The 2020 festival kicks off with this ever-popular event, featuring superstar culinary talent from across North America preparing Snake River Farms American Wagyu cooked over open-wood flames while celebrity mixologists craft whisky-based cocktails utilizing Woodford Reserve. Guests will then be invited to take their places at the table for an intimate, family style dinner with wines hand selected by Far Niente. Country music superstars D. Vincent Williams, Dillon Dixon and Joe Diffy will provide musical accompaniment. Tickets start at $350.

Friday, April 17- Flutes & Coops

Experience the ultimate Champagne campaign and fried chicken feast headlined by DJ Miss Mixx, Fosterson and 17 of the Valley’s best chefs preparing their best fried chicken recipes. This indoor/outdoor event will feature full bars and cocktails shaken by some of the Valley’s best mixologists with one chef being crowned king of Flutes & Coops by popular vote. Tickets start at $150.

Saturday, April 18- Tequila & Tortillas

Grab the salt and limes! Held at the iconic Hotel Valley Ho, this year’s Dia de los Muertos-themed Tequila & Tortillas event will feature nearly 20 locally and nationally recognized chefs cooking up the best of the best in southwestern fare. Since no fiesta is complete without tequila, several of the Valley’s top cocktailers will be on-site mixing up delicious tequila-based cocktails.

This year’s event also features a team “taco takedown” competition, tequila luges and a stunning art presentation by the renowned Gennaro Garcia. Tickets start at $125.

Saturday, April 18- Best of the West

The biggest event of the weekend, Best of the West will be hosted by Scott Conant and Tony Abou-Ganim and will offer 20 live-action stations showcasing cuisine from the most talented chefs of the Valley and greater Arizona. Set to the backdrop of the stunning Camelback Mountain, this not-to-miss event will also offer live musical performances from Double D and the Nashville Allstars to close out the night. Tickets start at $175

Sunday, April 19- Rosé Parté  

The star-studded rosé-all-day trend continues with Rosé Parté, co-hosted by Robert Irvine and the Bella Twins. Guests will have the opportunity to mix and mingle with some of the Valley’s top culinary talent as well as taste two-dozen different rosé wines. This brunch-style party will also include craft cocktails, ice carvings, a raw bar and beats by DJ Miss Mixx. Giving new meaning to the term “Sunday Funday,” this is a not-to-miss closing experience. Tickets start at $150.