Sous chef Frank Gama was living & working in Phoenix when he was planning a culinary experience like no other. He was then offered a job in San Francisco but didn’t forget about the dinner he wanted to do honoring the Hispanic & Latino community and heritage. He and Sous Chef Victor Aguilera will be coming to Phoenix to collaborate on this 8-course cannabis infused dinners on Sunday October 17th and Monday the 18th at Phoenix’s Jewels’ Cafe.
Both Gama and Aguilera have worked at Michelin star restaurants in San Francisco with Gama working at Atelier Crenn, Sorrel and Cafe Monarch in Scottsdale. Aguilera who’s from Venezuela, opened Arepas en Bici and has been featured in Eater SF, SF Chronicle, Good Morning America and recently won the Chopped 420 Challenge.
The dinners will feature courses spanning the culinary spectrum from molecular gastronomy to traditional French cuisine using locally sourced ingredients and Arizona grown cannabis. The dinner will start with a happy hour with snacks and each course will include drink pairings by bartender Curtis Hayes of The Monarch in Kansas City.
The all inclusive dinner is $200 per person and has two seating’s per night at 5 & 8 p.m. More information & to purchase your seats visit https://www.bychefaguilera.com/events. Jewel’s Cafe is at 4041 E. Thomas Rd. Phoenix 85018.
Two of the valley’s vegan advocates have come together to launch the first Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week September 12th- 18th. Chef & author Jason Wyrick and vegan taste maker and owner of Phoenix Vegan Jozh Watson launched the week long culinary event to bring more attention to plant- based restaurants, foods & cooking.
According to Wyrick, “Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week is a celebration of plant-based cuisine in Phoenix. We want to raise awareness about everything vegan that’s now available in our city, get everyone excited, and out-and-about trying all of the great dining options.”
How Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week works?
The pair are encouraging restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, food trucks and others to showcase their plant-based cooking and more. During the week participants will be offering a specially created menu with breakfast & lunch offering at $20 and a 3-course dinner menu at $30.
“We want to position Greater Metro Phoenix as a premier, inclusive dining destination,” said Watson.
During the week diners can experience the growing Phoenix plant-based food scene visiting new establishments or returning to familiar ones. A a few of the participating eateries include: Beaut Burger, Brunch & Sip, Chilte, Dilla Libre, Early Bird Vegan, Earth Plant-Based, Giving Tree Café, Ground Control, Hot Sauce & Pepper, Maya’s Cajun Kitchen, Pachamama, Positively Frosted, Salvadoreno Restaurant, Shameless Burger, Simon’s Hot Dogs, The Nile Coffee Shop, Urban Beans Café, Tesoro Vegano, The Vegan Taste, Verdura, and Wok this Way.
According to Wyrick, “Restaurants are experimenting more with vegan cuisine and showcasing some really great offerings. Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week allows them to cater to a growing clientele and test the waters for expanding their vegan selections.” For more information and to see additional participants head to their website.
A couple of weeks after re-opening with a new look, the Arizona Biltmore Resort debuts its new restaurant, Renata’s Hearth on Tuesday. The Central & South American inspired restaurant will tempt you palate with its smoky aromas of chiles, meats and more. The restaurant joins the newly opened outdoor Inspire Bar.
Chef Jose Figueroa Ortega’s menu pays homage to his Hispanic heritage with its meat and seafood dishes. Ortega’s taste for southwest flavors started at a young age while cooking at home with his family. He built on what he learned at home by attending the Arizona Culinary Institute to hone his skills before working at Cafe Monarch & Tarbell’s. His photo worthy dishes include Grilled Branzino, Renata’s Pozole Blanco and Mole Negro Rubbed Smoke Wagyu Brisket.
Signature cocktails will include the Burnt Paloma and White Sangria and the Los Muertos and Smoked Pineapple. Two signature carts will roam the restaurant including a fresh guacamole & Spanish tapas cart and the Mezcal Mavens will have their craft cocktail cart. Inspire Bar pays tribute to Frank Lloyd Wright whose influences are found throughout the resort that dates back to 1929.
Moroccan lanterns strung from trees along with tiles and aged leather will set the mood. “We believe that Renata’s Hearth will be unlike any other restaurant that exists in the current Arizona culinary scene,” said Cornelius Cover, general manager at Renata’s Hearth. “The alchemy of authentic flavors and the essence of smoke mesh in a sophisticated atmosphere perfect for nights out and special occasions.”
For more information and to make a reservation visit their website.
Home chefs looking to hone their skills at cooking authentic Italian food can reserve their seats at the downtown Scottsdale restaurant. Chef Marcellino offers his next monthly cooking class on Saturday, April 17th. The 2 hour class will teach you to prepare his signature ravioli with spinach and ricotta cheese. Seats are limited and are $50++ and include lunch. May 15th is the next class making Pollo Saparito and on June 19th its Pasta Ghiotonna. Classes are from 1 – 3 p.m. and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant at 480-990-9500.
Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict at Morning Squeeze for a limited time
Egg Benedict fans can celebrate National Eggs Benedict Day next Friday April 16th at any 3 of the restaurant locations. A specially made Pulled Pork Benedict will be available for only 3 days next weekend. Always on the menu is the Classic Benedict, Cali Benedict & Salmon Benedict.
Doggie Date Night at Daily Dose Midtown
Grab your favorite canine and head to the restaurant at Highland & 20th St on the 3rd Thursday of the month. Next Thursday the 15th from 3 – 9 p.m. well behaved dogs and their owners are invited to the patio for all natural dog treats from Dogs Eating Cake and special menu for their owners. A portion of the proceeds from the night will be donated to the Arizona Humane Society. Reservations are needed and can be made by calling 602-274-0334. Circle these dates for the next Doggie Date Night…..May 20th & June 17th.
Community Blend coffee benefits local schools districts
Press Coffee Roasters announced that the proceeds from its Community Blend coffee beans will be donated 6 K-8 school districts in neighborhoods where there is a Press location. In-store purchases only and Community Blend is available until May 16th.
Brazil is on the map for Match Market & Bar’s Passport Series
No need to pack your bags just head to the downtown Phoenix restaurant tomorrow night (Saturday April 10th) for some South American flavor and culture. The trip is from 6 – 10 p.m. and is $15 per person with exotic cocktail included. For more information head to their website.
Two creative minds in the Valley’s food scene have partnered to bring Cave Creek a restaurant like no other. Michael Stone and Carlos Marquez opened Ofrenda last week in the Stagecoach Village’s spot that was Marquez’s former Indigo Crow restaurant. In Spanish “ofrenda” means “offering” and that restaurant is inspired by the Aztec tradition where families build altars to loved ones and their eternal souls.
Stone owner of central Phoenix’s Taco Guild has wanted to partner with Marquez for some time. “After several conversations we came to a decision,” Stone said. “Both Carlos and I experienced some recent tragic losses in our lives, and then the pandemic. We decided to change the concept to something more meaningful; something that reflects our intent and feeling for the brands we create.
Throughout the two-story restaurant guests will experience not only Latin cuisine but also art in various forms around the restaurant. A focal point is metal marigold at the entrance and the “Dia des Muertos”, Day of the Dead caricatures donning windows and statues inside and out.
The foods and tequilas of Ofrenda
Marquez not only created the menu but also did much of the work around the restaurant transforming from one to another. In the kitchen he’s created a menu of salads, appetizers, tacos and entrees. Pork Empanadas and a Carbon Board of pepita hummus, carbon grilled vegetables, fried hominy, guacamole and fresh tortillas. He prepares carne asada, duck, lobster and shell on crab for taco offerings.
Entrees include a Tomahawk steak and Huarache Nopales (grilled nopales, fried blue corn masa, black beans, vegan cheese, pea tendrils, and huitlacoche); Carne (house-marinated sirloin steak, black bean puree, ash-roasted papas, and rojo).
The pair will have the largest selection of Agave liquors and are well on their way with several hundred under lock and key in the Agave Library upstairs. The gate securing the agave was built by Marquez. Signature cocktails, Mexican wines and draft beers were created and selected by beverage director Luke Detraz.
“Michael and I wanted to create this as a way to honor loved ones and those we still hold dear, whether they are close to us or far away,” Marquez said.” Ofrenda celebrates life and all those who have touched us profoundly. It’s a place to make new memories while cherishing loved ones far and near.”
Ofrenda is at 7100 E. Cave Creek Rd. Cave Creek 85331. (480)488-2187. For more information visit their website. Open daily at 3 p.m. and Sat. and Sun. at 11 a.m. for brunch.
Tempe’s Ghost Ranch restaurant is launching a monthly Guest Chef Series starting Wednesday November 13th. Each month a local chef will join chefs Rene Andrade and Roberto Centeno for a specially created menu. Launching the dinner series will be Chef Samantha Sanz of Talavera Restaurant at The Four Seasons Scottsdale.
The five-course dinner will be inspired by where the three chefs hail from…..Nogales. Flavors of their hometown will be on display for this special dinner. Each course is paired with a beverage.
First Course – Cured Salmon, Green chiltepin aguachile tostada, radish salad and pickled avocado mousse. Paired with: Mohua Sauvignon Blanc
Second Course – Mesquite charred local squash and sweet potato, grapes, mint, crow’s dairy feta, peanut mole, tamarind and chiltepin candy crunch. Paired with: Tamarind piloncillo old fashioned
Third Course – Steamed red chile taquitos, duck confit potatoes, pickled farmer’s market veggies and burnt salsa. Paired with: Pacifico Michelada
Hispanics around the world honor deceased family and friends every year with Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations. The festive holiday includes candle lighting vigils, traditional decorations and more. Downtown Chandler’s Ghett’ Yo’ Taco is showing their respect for the colorful holiday with a four day festival. The inaugural Dia de los Muertos event will benefit the Los Diablos ASU Alumni Chapter.
“We are extremely excited to be hosting this Dia de los Muertos celebration for the first time,” said Wally Ansari, owner of Ghett’ Yo’ Taco’. “With four days of activities we’ve made sure that there is something fun for all ages. We are also very pleased to partner with Los Diablos for this event and support their mission to assist outstanding Latin college students at ASU. We look forward to bringing the Chandler community together to celebrate our departed loved ones.”
Dia de los Muertos events
Here is the schedule of events.
Thursday, October 31 – Halloween bar crawl will take place from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. and will include stops at Chandler establishments The Local, Perch, Sleepy Whale and Quart Haus. The night will continue at Ghett’ Yo’ Taco with a costume contest for cash prizes and a candle lighting vigil. Guests are encouraged to bring candles and photos of their departed loved ones. Each bar will have drink specials and live music. Tickets for Thursday are available online at GhettYoTaco.com.
Friday, November 1 – From 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. attendees can enjoy a live DJ and patio expansion for guests to bring candles and/or pictures of deceased family members for a candle lighting vigil. Candles will be available on site for purchase. This event is free and open to the public.
Saturday, November 2 – Dia de los Muertos celebration will take place all day from 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. Guests will be able to fully embrace Hispanic culture and experience a traditional celebration honoring departed loved ones. The day will consist of live musical performances, traditional Hispanic food, piñatas and sugar skull painting. Tickets for Saturday are available online at GhettYoTaco.com.
Sunday, November 3 – Celebrate Family Fun Day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Guests of all ages can enjoy music, food, drinks, a bouncy house and kid’s activities. This event is free and open to the public.
Los Diablos raises funds for scholarships and financial assistance for students in Arizona. The organization is committed to mentorship and community service as well.
Ghett’ Yo’ Taco is at 241 S. Oregon St. Chandler 85225.
When Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa resumes its Lunch & Learn series on Sunday November 17th their doing with a celebrity chef. The resorts own celebrity chef Beau McMillan will welcome his friend Aaron Sanchez for the interactive culinary demonstration. Sanchez is co-host of the Food Network’s “Chopped” and a judge and co-host of Fox’s “MasterChef”.
MacMillan and Sanchez will host 125 guests for the 3-course lunch inspired by Sanchez’s latest best-selling memoir, “Where I Came From: Life Lessons from a Latino Chef”. Guests will receive a signed copy of the book at the end of the event. In addition to his TV work Sanchez is chef and owner of New Orlean’s popular restaurant “Johnny Sanchez”. He’s considered to be America’s most prominent Latino chef and when he’s not working on TV he’s donating his time and money to worthy causes.
Lunch & Learn with Aaron Sanchez starts at 11 a.m. and tickets are $135 per person and are all inclusive. Reservations are needed and can be made by calling 855-318-9009. Seats are limited so guests are encouraged to make their reservations early.
There’s new restaurant opening today at the intersection of Tatum and Shea Blvd. Little Cay Latin Caribbean Kitchen is the the first restaurant by Ben Sinion, former General Manager of The Wrigley Mansion.
The fast casual concept will transport you to Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica and beyond with its classic and contemporary Caribbean and Latin dishes. A meat filled Cubano sandwich, Jerk Chicken, Mofongo( smashed plaintains, think guacamole) and vegan friendly dishes are among the authentic dishes. You can’t go the tropics without tropical cocktails or a cold beer, rum based sangria and more are available.
It’s a laid-back concept,” said Sinon. “Guests can grab-n-go, dine in and it’s perfect food for a party.”
Stop in during opening weekend a get a FREE plantain appetizer. Choose from the Tostones, Marquitas De Platanos or Maduros.
Little Cay Latin Caribbean Kitchen is at 4912 E. Shea Blvd. #108 Scottsdale 85254. They’re open daily from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. For more information and to see the menu check out their website.
Whether you want to enjoy a cocktail and light bites or a sit down dinner the Four Seasons Resort at Troon North have something to offer. My last post about Talavera Restaurant dining experiences offers an epicurean adventure to Spain and Latin America. The resorts other restaurants Proof, An American Canteen, Onyx Bar and Lounge as well as Talavera, offer culinary treats created in time for summer.
I had the pleasure of tasting all of the dishes and drinks below. All cocktails below are created by the resorts beverage director in conjunction with the chefs of each establishment. The dishes are light and offer seasonal ingredients and the drinks were refreshing and unique.
Onyx Bar & Lounge at Four Seasons Resort at Troon North
Just of the lobby with a beautiful view to the south you can enjoy these specially created bites and cocktails. Talavera Restaurant Sous Chef Samantha Sanz and her culinary team created the these three dishes.
Chistorra and Peppers Flatbread with charred chistorra, pipperada, caramelized onion and mustard sauce, cotija cheese.
Cheesy Arepa Bite
Salmon Belly Tartare
Illegal Anejo Mezcal Old Fashioned
Proof, An American Canteen
Everything served in this roadhouse styled restaurant is from the good ol’ U.S.A. Take a road trip around the country in June, July and August with the specially created dishes and drinks.
Prepared by chefs Dell Morris, Joey Cavaretta and Conrad Butler “Proof Across America” along with Smokehouse Fridays where entrees are cooked low n slow in their outdoor smoker.
June- Stone Crab Cake with sea urchin and Key lime remoulade
July– Texas BBQ Plate with beef brisket, smoky beer cheese sausage and house made BBQ sauce. Watermelon Panzanella Salad with Crow’s Dairy goat feta and mint. I love BBQ!
August- Crispy cactus fries with cotija cheese and avocado ranch.
Havasu Heat (with Ixa Tequila, pineapple and charred jalapeño)
Huss Arizona Light Lager
Le Cumbre Elevated IPA
The Spanish steakhouse serves tapas styled small plates, desserts and cocktails unique to the Spanish culture. More from sous chef Sanz and dessert by Pastry Chef Lance Whipple.
Pan con Tomate – Noble bread, roasted garlic, heirloom tomato and Spanish olive oil
Queen Creek Olives
Summer Corn and Tomato Tapa with summer corn, heirloom tomato with tomato butter cilantro and charred lime
Charred Tuna with grilled peach and salted marcona almonds
Summer Corn Paella with chorizo Bilbao, prawn, peas, mussels and clams, and chermoula verde
Brazilian Carrot Cake with chocolate brigadeiro icing, and summer carrot purée. This was a personal favorite, like no carrot cake you’ve had before.
Leche Frita with cajeta goat milk caramel and sherry blackberries
Rose Sangria with watermelon, tangerine and strawberry
Tarragon Gin Tonic- Did you see my Instagram video of Beverage Director Laura creating this cocktail?
The Four Seasons Resort at Troon North is at 10600 Crescent Moon Dr. 85262