Semifinalists for 2023 Restaurant & Chef Awards announced

This morning The James Beard Foundation announced the Semifinalists for its 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards. Arizona is again well represented throughout several categories. Nominees will be announced Wednesday, March 29th and winners announced Monday, June 5th 2023 in Chicago. You can see the list of all 2023 semifinalists here.

The 2023 Arizona semifinalists are……

Outstanding Chef

Silvana Salcido Esparza, Barrio Café, Phoenix

Outstanding Restaurant

Proper Meats + Provisions, Flagstaff

Emerging Chef

Christian Lowe, Shift Kitchen & Bar, Flagstaff

Outstanding Bakery

JL Patisserie, Phoenix and Scottsdale

Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker

Crystal Kass, Valentine, Phoenix

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program

Glai Baan, Phoenix

Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, NM, NV, OK)

Rene Andrade and Roberto Centeno, Bacanora, Phoenix

Jaren Bates and Brett Vibber, The Table at Junipine, Sedona

Nephi Craig, Café Gozhóó, Whiteriver

Wendy Garcia, Tumerico, Tucson

Fernando Hernández, Testal, Phoenix

Yotaka and Alex Martin, Lom Wong, Phoenix

Check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Chef Hector Godinez rolls out seasonal dishes at Grimaldi’s

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria introduced several new dishes and cocktails featuring the new Fall season that is upon us. Corporate Chef Hector Godinez and his team have been working on the 5 new dishes and 2 new cocktails since early summer. Grimaldi’s rolls out new seasonal dishes every 3 months as the seasons change and seasonal ingredients become available.

Chef Hector Godinez takes inspiration from his years working in various restaurants in Phoenix and Ahwatukee including the last 10 years at Grimaldi’s and 6 as Corporate Chef.

New on the menu at all locations for a limited time are…..

Fallin’ Wedge Salad- Traditional ingredients but swap out the Iceberg lettuce for higher quality Romaine and toss the ingredients.

The Bridge Board- Grimaldi’s version of a charcuterie board that changes seasonally and named after the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza- Chef Godinez’s take on Buffalo wings but with no fryer he puts all the ingredients including the crunchy celery on a pizza with Sweet Baby Ray’s hot sauce.

Pumpkin Cheesecake- Can’t have a Fall menu without a pumpkin spices.

Coco’nana Cheesecake– Godinez’s play on a childhood favorite, chocolate covered banana. Banana cheesecake with Oreo cookie crust and chocolate chips.

Italian Old Fashioned– Whiskey, Tiramisu syrup and bitters over ice with a Luxardo cherry and orange peel.

Amalfi Martini- Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Limoncello and lemon juice shaken and garnished with a lemon wheel and rosemary. 

Check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

 

 

Nattha’s Bann Thai Asian opens at former Peking Palace in Tucson

Husband and wife Nattha and Eric Post both grew up around food, she in Thailand and he in Tucson. Both attended Blue Elephant and Napali cooking schools in Thailand and have worked in restaurants in their native countries. They’ve now opened Nattha’s Bann Thai Asian, bringing authentic Thai and Cantonese Chinese cuisine to Tucson.

“Nattha’s Bann Thai Asian is a labor of love and an opportunity for us to invite the dining community in to taste the result of our passion for and dedication to serving authentic Asian cuisine that is approachable and delicious,” says Eric. “We want people to enjoy the experience of trying new things but also feel comfortable eating the familiar dishes they love.”

Tam “Sam” Quan is the executive chef serving a wide variety of “AppeThaizers”, soups, Thai curries & rice and more. Dishes include Yum Nua (grilled beef salad), Yum Woon Sen (glass noodle salad with shrimp and ground pork); soups like Tom Kha (coconut milk) and Tom Sabb (pork ribs); Thai curries including red, green, yellow, mussaman, panang and more; Thai noodle stir fries such as Pad Thai and Pad Kee Mao (drunken noodle); Thai rice stir fries like Pad Prik King (with crispy pork belly) and Pad Krathim (garlic chicken). They serve beer, wine and cocktails along with Thai teas.

Nattha came to the U.S. in 2018 and hopes to be a citizen soon and has worked in several local restaurants. Eric, a practicing attorney learned to cook from his Italian mother and worked at Tucson’s Kipple’s Pizza Parlour. Nattha’s Bann Thai Asian is at 6970 E. 22nd St. Tucson 85710. Hours are Monday – Saturday from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Visit their website for more information.

James Beard Foundation nominees named & Arizona is well represented

The Arizona restaurant scene is a buzz with pride as 15 chefs and restaurants from Flagstaff to Tucson have been nominated for a prestigious James Beard award. The James Beard Foundation announced the nominees last week in several categories in recognition of exceptional talent in the culinary and food media industry. Winners will be announced at the annual James Beard Foundation awards ceremony on Monday June 13th 2022 in Chicago.

Several Arizona nominees have been nominated in previous years and/or have won the coveted award. Those representing Arizona in 2022 are…….

Outstanding Restaurateur- Chris Bianco, Tratto, Pane Bianco, and Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix

Outstanding Chef- Christopher Gross, Christopher’s, Phoenix & Stephen Jones, The Larder + The Delta, Phoenix

Outstanding Restaurant- ShinBay, Scottsdale, AZ

Emerging Chef- Rochelle Daniel, Atria, Flagstaff, AZ & Donald Hawk, Valentine, Phoenix

Best New Restaurant- Bacanora, Phoenix

Outstanding Pastry Chef- Mark Chacón, Chacónne Patisserie, Phoenix

Outstanding Baker- Don Guerra, Barrio Bread, Tucson, AZ

Outstanding Hospitality- Binkley’s, Phoenix

Outstanding Wine Program- Kai, Phoenix

Best Chef: Southwest- Lori Hashimoto, Hana Japanese Eatery; Phoenix, John Martinez, Tito & Pep, Tucson; Maria Mazon, BOCA Tacos y Tequila, Tuscon; Giovanni Scorzo, Andreoli Italian Grocer, Scottsdale

 

Blue Watermelon Project connects chefs & farmers with students

Many school aged children don’t have the access to quality foods and rely on lunch served at school for free. Unfortunately after expenses there is only $1 left for the meal for each student which usually buys processed foods. Enter the Blue Watermelon Project, a program from Slow Food Phoenix inspired by chef and restaurant owner at FnB, Charleen Badman.

Blue Watermelon Project connects chefs, restaurants, farmers and food advocates with individual schools in an effort to help students re-think their relationship with fresh and whole foods making them a more adventurous eater. Along with parents and the community they offer taste education and interactive programming to help K-12 aged students become better eaters.

Blue Watermelon’s annual fundraiser, Feeding the Future helps bring awareness about school meal programs and Blue Watermelon’s mission. The 2022 event is Saturday January 22nd at The Farm at South Mountain from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Feeding the Future connects students and their Chef Mentors from Phoenix and Tucson to help create healthy school meals with several meal being judged to win prizes and scholarships. The meals meet the National School Lunch Programs nutrition, cost and other requirements.

Tickets for the event are $25-$75 and can be purchased at Eventbrite.

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.

Cider Corps’ Mango Foxtrot now stocked at Sprouts Farmer’s Market

The Mesa cidery has its first cider in the locally owned market at more than half the locations from Flagstaff to Tucson. The 4-pack cans will be added to even more locations throughout the summer. The award-winning Mango Foxtrot is one of Cider Corps more popular ciders.

Win free pizza for a year from Fired Pie & Truly Hard Seltzers

For the next 6 weeks customers 21 and over can enter to win a free pizza (1 a month) for a year. Each week a winner will be selected on the fast casual pizza concepts social media platforms. You can follow them @FiredPie to see the winners.

Z’ Tejas new Scottsdale location to open July 21st

After several postponements the Southwestern grill restaurant will open its newest location at Mercado de Lago in Scottsdale on July 21st. The renovated restaurant is on the lake, just off the Indian Bend Greenbelt making accessible to bikers and neighbors in McCormick Ranch. In addition to lunch and dinner, breakfast will beserved from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. during the week and until 2 p.m. on weekends.

Barro’s Pizza opens 2 new locations

The locally & family owned pizza restaurants have opened its 2 newest locations in Buckeye (Verrado) and Apache Junction this month. “We get a lot of requests from customers all over the Valley to open locations in their neighborhood,” said Mike Barro, co-owner of Barro’s Pizza. “Verrado is an area we’ve had our eye on for quite some time now. We are honored and excited to be able to serve customers in this neighborhood.”

Kids eat free every Tuesday at Chompie’s

Every Tuesday at all 4 locations kids under 10 get a free meal off the kid’s menu with the purchase of an entree. Kid’s meals are available during breakfast, lunch & dinner.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast, Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

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.

Raise your glass for National Wine Day

If you’re a regular wine drinker May 25th is just another Tuesday to you. If you occasionally enjoy a glass of wine then you may want to celebrate the fruit of the vine at these local establishments. LDV Winery is offering $2 wine flights all day, Pita Jungle offers a bottle of its private label Jungle Vino for only $13 or $5 a glass. Other restaurants and retailers celebrating with wine features from around the world include The Wine Store, Zinqué, CRUjiente Tacos, The Italian Daughter & The Sicilian Butcher.

Romeo’s Euro Cafe moves 3rd Tuesday dinner to next week

The monthly 3-course dinner paired with wines had to get bumped back a week this month to Tuesday May 25th. Halloumi Salad and Paesano (veal shoulder & Italian sausage marinara) & and dessert wind out the menu. Check their Facebook page for more details and how to reserve your seat.

Barro’s Pizza hiring 400 people in Tucson & Phoenix

The family owned restaurant with 44 locations (soon to be 46) is hiring counter help, cooks and most importantly delivery drivers. For more information and to apply visit their website.

$.75 Margarita de Macayo to celebrate 75 years

Macayo’s continue celebrate their 75th anniversary in 2021. Wednesday May 26th all locations invites guests who dine-in can to get 2 margaritas for less than a dollar each.

Arizona Restaurant Week is here

Tonight through Sunday the 30th dine at your favorite restaurant or visit a new one for a specially created 3 course menu for $33 or $44. To see the full list of participating restaurants from around Arizona and their menus visit their website.

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

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.

 

Mediterranean diet favorite dishes return to Pita Jungle

For the last 25 years Pita Jungle has been serving up healthy Mediterranean diet inspired dishes. Many customers have their favorite’s over the years but they tend to come and go with seasons. As part of their Seasonal Kitchen Crafts Menu they’ve brought back many fan favorites from the past.

All 23 locations throughout Arizona are serving dishes with a balance of Mediterranean diet and global cuisine. The menu is popular with all dietary needs including keto, paleo, vegan and gluten-free. The seasonal menu will be available thru the rest of the year. Dishes include……

  • Cauliflower Hummus (V) – cauliflower, tahini, garlic, evoo, lemon juice, cucumbers, pita (gluten free with blue corn chips).
  • All Veggie Pita Pocket – avocado, baby greens, seasonal mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, red onion, sprouts, tabbouleh, lemon vinaigrette, in a pita pocket, severed with tahini (vegan with no tabbouleh, gluten-free with gluten-free pita upcharge).
  • Bone Broth Ramen with Shirataki Noodles (GF) – beef bone broth, with miso, kimchi, red onion, gluten-free soy sauce, garlic and ginger, shirataki noodles, spinach, green onions.
  • Ginger Stir Fry with Shirataki Noodles (GF) – stir-fried fresh vegetables and kimchi, shirataki noodles, spicy ginger sauce, beef bone broth, fresh cilantro, fresh mint, pea sprouts (vegan with no kimchi and no beef broth).

    Mediterranean
    Ginger Stir Fry with Shirataki Noodles
  • Wood-Fired Medchilada (GF) – savory garlic-cilantro chicken in a beef bone broth enchilada sauce, cheddar and feta, turmeric cauliflower rice, cabbage-kale super greens, fresh jalapenos, radish, pico de gallo, pine nuts, gluten-free pita.
  • Chicken Avocado Pita Tostada with Cauliflower Hummus – grilled and chopped marinated all-natural chicken breast, avocado, cilantro-avocado crema, tomatoes, cucumbers, pickled red onions, bell peppers, cauliflower hummus, feta, pine nuts, baby arugula, pea sprouts, chipotle vinaigrette, pita tostada or low-carb pita or gluten-free pita (vegetarian option without chicken.
  • Mediterranean Tuna Pita Pocket – albacore tuna, avocado, seasonal mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, red onion, tabbouleh, lemon vinaigrette, pea sprouts, in a pita pocket.
  • Baklawa Bread Pudding sweetened with stevia and agave syrup.

To find a Pita Jungle near you head to their website.

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