JBF Women of AZ collaborate on creative meals for a limited time

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
24 Carrots
Cotton & Copper

The Farish House
The Joy Bus Diner
Songbird Coffee House

FnB
Hana Japanese Eatery
Tracy Dempsey Originals

Fat Ox
The Market by Jennifer’s
Sweet Republic

The Cellar
Nonna Urban Eatery
The Breadfruit & Rum Bar

To see the menus & chefs, place an order and pick-up instructions head to their website.

Peter Kasperski returns to the valley’s dining scene with Character

2020 brought many surprises good and bad to the valley’s dining scene. One of the biggest surprises was the return of restaurateur Peter Kasperski in December. He and valley mixologist Richie Moe III have again joined forces to open Character Distinctive Dining in the Roosevelt Arts District. The two have known each other for over 30 years going back to their days in Chicago when Moe’s father was Kasperski’s mentor.

Moe helped Kasperski open Cowboy Ciao in the 1990s then Kazmierz Wine Bar before they went their separate ways. Moe had gone on to open and run cocktail programs at Citizen Public House, The Gladly and Bourbon and Bones. Kasperski has been lying low the last few years plotting his next move since he closed Cowboy Ciao.

Photo courtesy of Modern Vision Media

Downtown Phoenix’s Character Distinctive Dining is a classic American dinner house with cuisines from around the world made using modern cooking techniques. Kasperski’s love for eclectic wines and Moe’s inventive cocktail list have also made their way downtown from Scottsdale. Some will see similarities with Cowboy Ciao especially the popular dinner events. One of those events is the monthly Somm Showdown with Peter Kasperski and a local wine sommelier go head to head picking the best pairings for a five-course dinner. The first Somm Showdown is Sunday January 24th 2021 with Synergy Fine Wines’ Steve Cannon. Seating is limited to 30 people and dinner is $90 ++ per person.

The pair are also opening Alias, a speakeasy, later this year out back of Character. Three nights a week Moe and Chef Justin “Red” Hauska will create mixology/gastronomy dinners pairing cocktails and food with science and surprises. After dinner starting at 9 p.m. Alias will become a craft cocktail bar until 2 a.m.

Character / Alias is at 218 E Portland St. Phoenix, AZ 85004. For more information check their website, Facebook and Instagram.

 

Devour at Home, a virtual Devour Culinary Classic coming in February

2021 is almost here but we’re not out of the woods yet from Covid-19 so virtual get togethers are still happening in the new year. Continuing to support local restaurants Local First Arizona announced their annual Devour Culinary Classic is going online with Devour at Home the weekend of February 27-28.

Each day local chefs will prepare and have delivered a special prix-fixe meal to enjoy in the comfort of your own home. There will be a limited amount of meals offered with each meal being $200 and feeds 4 people. Each meal includes wine glasses, warming instructions, chef bios, a 2021 Devour at Home place mat and a commemorative thermal tote.

Chefs participating in Devour at Home include Danielle Leoni of The Breadfruit & Rum Bar, Stephen Jones of The Larder +Delta, Silvana Salcido Esparanza of Barrio Cafe and others. Attendees can show off their plating skills from home to win prizes selected by the chefs and other virtual experiences. The nationally recognized event plans to return in person when CDC guidelines allow.

The participating restaurants will receive 100% of all proceeds from the weekend’s event. You can order your meals starting on February 15th and get more information at https://www.devourphoenix.com/.

 

Visit Mesa launches Fresh Foodie Trail Geotour for socially distanced fun

Visit Mesa launched an exciting socially distant way for foodies and families to learn about the East Valley’s agrotourism community. The popular activity, Geocaching is part scavenger hunt part education and the new Fresh Foodie Trail Geotour will take you to 8 local farms, orchards and businesses. At each location geocachers will collect limited edition stickers and find all 10 geocaches for Fresh Foodie Trail Geotour recipes, a Visit Mesa branded wooden spoon and a digital souvenir from www.geocaching.com

Geo Tour stops include Jalapeno Bucks BBQ, Agritopia, Schnepf Farms, Queen Creek Olive Mill and other area farms.

Want to take a few days to enjoy your geotour, consider the Escape to Mesa vacation package before it ends. The promotion is open to Arizona residents who book a 2 night stay at a Mesa hotel. The package includes $150 in incentives and runs through the end of December. Visit http://www.escapetomesa.com/ for more information.

Tru Tacos PHX pop-up from Jewel’s Bakery starts in December

Taco pop-ups are quite popular these days with gourmet tacos being served up in parking lots, residential drive ways and wine & beer bars. Looking to show off their taco game Justine & Misa Trujillo are launching Tru Tacos PHX pop-up on Friday December 4th at 6 p.m. Serving tacos on the patio outside their Jewel’s Bakery & Cafe. They’ll be drawing from age old family recipes  serving three tacos to start….. carne asada, al pastor & nopal (cactus) tacos. Covid-19 delayed the opening but the two felt now was the right time to share their family recipes.

“The concept of Tru Tacos PHX was born the moment I took my first bite of the al pastor tacos that my husband’s family had prepared for dinner. This recipe has been passed down through the years, with each generation perfecting the original recipe even more. These tacos are the kind you can only get “from mom,” as you can taste the care and heart that goes into each taco, says local chef and co-owner, Justine Trujillo. “You can’t get a taco like this anywhere else.”

The weekly pop-up will be on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights starts at 6 p.m. until they sell out. Opening weekend guests will get 2 free tacos of their choice for take-out or enjoy on the patio. Tacos will be prepared on a charcoal trompo grill and served on house made corn tortillas. Salsa de Cacahuate, Salsa Verde and Jalapeno salsa and $2 margaritas, aqua fresca and seasonal local beers will be available.

Tru Tacos PHX is at 4041 E. Thomas Rd. 85008.For more information visit their website.

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

Quick sips of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant, beer & wine community.

20% off your at OHSO Brewery Arcadia donated to AAWL

To celebrate Oktoberfest the brew pub with dog friendly patio will donated 20% of sales from 4-8 p.m. Sunday October 18th to the Arizona Animal Welfare League. AAWL is the state’s largest & oldest no-kill shelter saving thousands of lives.

Local pumpkins sourced for Los Sombreros dishes

Abby Lee Farms and Crooked Sky Farms have provided all three of the Mexican restaurants with pumpkins for 2 seasonal dishes. Pumpkin Soup ($10) and Pumpkin Flan ($8) will be available until October 31st. The feature is part of the restaurants Los Local Love program helping to support Arizona farms and foods.

Fall weather brings seasonal food to Trapp Haus BBQ

With the return of cool weather the popular downtown Phoenix BBQ joint has brought back its popular Texas Burnt End Chili. $6.99 gets you cup and $9.99 gets you a bowl of the juicy & tender beef brisket ends. Wash it down with a Wicked Caramel Apple Cider cocktail for $10. The Fall favorite is made with cinnamon whiskey, apple cider and a caramel drizzle.

Burnt End Chili

Chase’s Diner dishes out Pumpkin Pancakes in October

If pumpkin spice your seasonal favorite head to the Chandler diner who is serving up stacks of their pancakes made with the ingredient. The rich & fluffy pancakes are dusted with powdered sugar and served with real whipped cream sweet butter and maple syrup. A short stack of 3 is $8.79 and a combo plate with 2 pancakes, 2 eggs and bacon or sausage is $8.39.

Twin Peaks Restaurant is raising money for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Donate by putting a name of someone on a pink ribbon to be put on the dining room wall of the 3 locations around Phoenix. All money collected in October will be donated locally to the Phoenix chapter of the American Cancer Society. On October 24th the restaurants participates in Strides Ride for Phoenix.

 

Meal Deals come back to Organ Stop Pizza in October

If you’ve got a group of up to about 8 people looking for fun, food and to save some money, Mesa’s Organ Stop Pizza’s is ready for you. The locally owned pizza restaurant is also home to the country’s largest Wurlitzer pipe organ offers new Meal Deals through the month of October.

Enjoy your pizza, salads, pastas and more to the sounds that all will enjoy. A professional organist plays everything from classical to rock to movie themes and more. The restaurant only accepts cash or check and is practicing CDC guild lines for the continued pandemic.

The Meal Deals are as follows.

FEED UP TO 4:

     1 Large Pizza with unlimited toppings*

     1 Appetizer**

     1 Pitcher of Soft Drink

Only $27.99! (breaks down to $7 a person.)

 

FEED UP TO 6:

     2 Medium Pizzas with unlimited toppings*

     1 Appetizer**

     2 Pitchers of Soft Drink

Only $40.99! (breaks down to $6.84 a person.)

 

FEED UP TO 8:

     2 Large Pizzas with unlimited toppings*

     2 Appetizers**

     2 Pitchers of Soft Drink

Only $51.99! (breaks down to $6.50 a person)

*Extra/Double Cheese excluded

**Combo Basket excluded

Prices do not include tax. No substitutions, not valid for fundraisers, not valid with any other discounts, coupons or promotions.

Organ Stop Pizza is located at 1149 East Southern Avenue in Mesa, AZ 85204 (SW corner of Southern/Stapley). Phone (480) 813-5700.

“Hot Dog Day’s” at Joe’s Farm Grill all month of October

Hot dogs are so popular they can’t be celebrated just for one day. Gilbert’s Joe’s Farm Grill is celebrating the comfort food favorite for all 31 days in October. “Hot Dog Day’s” will features specialty dogs made with all-beef hot dogs and sausages from Phoenix’s Schreiner’s Fine Sausages.

From 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. customers can get a specialty hot dog served with a side for $12 or $18 for any combination of 2.

Hot Dog Day’s specialty dogs

Cheddar Coney Dog — A grilled hot dog smothered with mild homemade Michigan Coney sauce and yellow mustard then topped by a quarter-pound mountain of finely shredded Tillamook cheddar cheese; served with diced onions on the side

DangerDog — A jalapeno-stuffed, bacon-wrapped fried hot dog with atomic horseradish, honey mustard, homemade sweet-hot pepper relish and a heap of finely shredded ghost pepper jack cheese; served with extra relish on the side

Carolina Blue Dog — A grilled dog topped with a generous portion of Joe’s signature BBQ pulled pork, tangy blue cheese crumbles, and hand-cut sweet coleslaw then drizzled with Joe’s Real BBQ sauce and homemade coleslaw dressing; served with extra Joe’s Real BBQ sauce on the side

Sonoran Dog — A long-time Joe’s Farm Grill favorite, this (slightly) new and improved recipe features a jalapeno-stuffed, bacon-wrapped fried hot dog with homemade Farm beans, queso de cotija, pico de gallo and finished yellow mustard and a sour cream-mayo drizzle; served with whole fried peppers on the side 

Big Fat Greek Dog — Schreiner’s smoked Greek-seasoned pork sausage topped with cucumber tzatziki sauce, drizzled with yellow mustard, and then piled high with Joe’s Greek fries (featuring garlic sauce, feta, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and fresh herbs); served with extra sauce on the side

Italian Sausage Dog — A fresh sweet Italian link baked into Joe’s fresh-made focaccia dough with pepperoni, marinara, and creamy brick and pecorino-Romano cheeses, then topped with sautéed onions and peppers; served with side of mild Giardiniera (*This hot dog requires a slow hand — please allow for slightly longer service time)

Joe’s Farm Grill is at 3000 E. Ray Rd., Bldg. 1, Gilbert 85296. 480-563-4745. For more information visit their website.

Cannabis dispensary, The Mint is holding a cannabis infused recipe contest

Arizona largest cannabis dispensary, The Mint is holding a contest to find the best cannabis infused recipe. Through June 30th, Arizona card holders 21 years of age and older are encouraged to submit their creations. The winning recipe will be featured in The Mint’s kitchen to join other menu items for to-go orders. Cannabis infused foods with less sugar help people battling everything from cancer & epilepsy to Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.

Entrants need to their share recipe, idea or creation along with the proposed name, key ingredients and description. 10 finalists will be judged by a panel of chefs by July 1st and a grand prize winner will be announced on July 10th which is when the industry celebrates cannabis concentrates and extracts. The winner will also have their recipe in a cannabis infused cookbook to be released in August. The winner will receive $2,500 in cash and a $2,500 donation to a food bank in their name. Sales of the cookbook will also be donated to food banks who have been struggling to feed people the last few months.cannabisRecipe submissions are being accepted until 11:59 p.m. June 30th 2020 and can be sent to Recipes@TheMintDispensary.com. The Mint has a dispensary in Mesa and Guadalupe with a third planned to open this year in north Phoenix.

 

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.