Chef Bernie Kantak and partner Andrew Fritz have stepped out of their comfort zone of full service restaurants to open their first casual concept, Commander Hamburger. The two own the critically acclaimed restaurants The Gladly in Phoenix and Citizen Public House in Scottsdale. The superhero inspired burger stand opened this week in downtown Phoenix’s The Churchill, an opened air shipping container food court.
Much like the pairs other restaurants and comic books Commander Hamburger should have a cult like following. Guests can expect hamburgers and chicken sandwiches on Noble Bread buns, fries, Danzeisen soft-serve ice cream and more. Fans of Kantak know of his famous Original Chopped Salad and they shouldn’t worry as he’s saved the day as it’s on the menu too. The atmosphere will be of the vintage comic style. Commander joins 9 other small businesses at The Churchill and the only one focusing on burgers.
“Let’s bring back memories of sitting in your best friends’ basement, trading cards, flipping through comics and watching old-school cartoons,” said Kantak, of the vibe at his latest endeavor. “Throw a great hamburger in that scene and we’re set.”
Commander Hamburger and The Churchill is at 901 N. 1st St. Phoenix 85004. For more information check out their website.
If your calendar is filling up like mine is you’ll want to save the date of Sunday November 17th. That afternoon is when food trucks will battle to see who makes the best slider at the popular Slider Throwdown at Kierland Commons. The annual family friendly event raises money for the Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation (AFFCF).
“Our mission is to help foster children navigate the difficult and often unchartered waters of foster care by providing them with valuable resources as well as opportunities to participate in childhood activities that promote confidence and independence so they can grow into responsible, happy adults,” says Kris Jacober, executive director of the AFFCF. “With popular events like the Slider Throwdown we are thrilled and grateful to see the public aid in our mission to build up our community’s youth.”
Local food trucks Two Fat Guys Grilled Cheese, Food Diva and others will compete for “Best Slider”. Judge’s will look for creativity in the sliders and taste and attendees will vote for the “People’s Choice” award.
All proceeds will benefit AFFCF to help foster children have a “normal” childhood and prepare them for adulthood. Since 1983 AFFCF has raised over $10 million for foster care here in Arizona.
The Throwdown goes from 12 noon – 3p.m. and admission to the event is $35 per person. Included are samples of all sliders and 3 non-alcoholic drink tickets. There will be a silent auction to bid on with exciting packages and music by Lane Change. Tickets are available at https://www.affcf.org/sliderthrowdown/
Phoenix is on the map of the James Beard Foundation hot off the recent win by FnB’s Charleen Badman’s for “Best Chef: Southwest”. It’s also on the map for the foundations “Taste America” tour scheduled for September 19th- 21st. Phoenix is one of 20 cities chosen to host the event.
Tickets went on sale this week for the three day event for the cross country culinary experience.
Taste America events
The weekend kicks off on Thursday September 19th with the “Raising the Bar” walk around reception at Seventh and Union. Guests will meet rising star chefs and mixologists while sipping on cocktails and tasting culinary creations. Kyla Dahl of Pigtails Cocktail Bar, Henry Whittaker of Century Grand and Matt Steward of Undertow are a few of the mixologists pouring cocktails.
Dom Ruggiero of Hush Public House, Juan Zamora of Chula Seafood and Tamara Stanger of Cotton & Copper along with others will show off their culinary talents.
Friday night is the “Gala Benefit Dinner” at The Royal Palms Resort & Spa. The cocktail and tasting reception starts at 7 p.m. with tastes created by local chefs Stephen Jones of The Larder & Delta, Cat Bunnag of Glai Baan and others. Guests will then be treated to a three- course dinner menu created by visiting chef Tiffany Derry of Plano’s Roots Chicken Shack, local all-star Danielle Leoni of The Breadfruit & Rum Bar and host chef Alexander Robinson.
A dessert reception with Danielle O’Day of Sweet Dee’s Bakeshop and Hollie Layman-Sanders of The Royal Palms ends the night.
A silent and live auction will be held during the evening. A portion of the proceeds from dinner and auctions will go to the foundations scholarship programs.
The weekend concludes with the James Beard Foundation’s Women’s Leadership Program, Owning It. The workshop will bring together 60 women who are in the idea or growth phase of a food related business. A few women will pitch local investors for funding for their project and all will learn how to advance in the culinary industry.
Restaurateur Ron Lynch is no stranger to opening restaurants having opened over 100 Tilted Kilt’s across the country. Having left Tilted Kilt, Lynch has opened VooDoo Daddy’s Steam Kitchen. The restaurant on Elliot Rd. near Costco serves up Cajun, Creole & Caribbean cuisine.
“We are excited about our location and have really put a lot of work into this menu,” said owner and founder, Ron Lynch. “If there’s one thing to know about Cajun food it’s that the dishes have to be just right. Our patio will be a place for families to people watch, sip some custom blended ice teas, porch wines, nitro cold brew coffee or a craft beer and enjoy a nice bowl of gumbo or jambalaya.”
Lynch brought with him James Heyl to prepare the menu full of savory and spicy dishes. Heyl brings with over 25 years of restaurant experience. Dishes include Po’ Boys, gumbo, red beans & rice and pan roasts from the restaurants steam kettles.
The bright yellow 3,150 square foot restaurant is decorated with murals of late night jazz players dancing on piano keys. Dark wood floors and brick walls adorn the inside of the fast casual restaurant.
VooDoo Daddy’s Steam Kitchen official grand opening
VooDoo Daddy’s Steam Kitchen is now open but will have an official grand opening on Thursday May 16th at 11 a.m. That day a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Tempe Diablos. The 501-c non-profit civic organization enhances and promotes the Tempe community. In 2018 the Diablos donated $900,000 to Tempe area charities for scholarships, teacher awards and needs based services.
“The recipe for a great restaurant is incredible food and drinks, a perfect location and rich atmosphere,” said Lynch. “VooDoo Daddy’s has all of that and more. We couldn’t be more excited for this launch.”
VooDoo Daddy’s Steam Kitchen is at 1325. W. Elliot Rd. Suite 106 Tempe 85284. The restaurant is open Sun. – Thurs. from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. & 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Fri. & Sat. For more information see their website.
Phoenix restaurants and food trucks have signed up to create out of this world french fries for only $2-$3. Larger “Sharing” sizes will be available as well. Fries topped with chorizo, lobster and kimchee are just a few of the toppings I’ve heard about.
Festival goers will enjoy French fries from the likes of The Dressing Room, Trapp Haus BBQ and Hibachibot. Make sure you find your way to Merkin Vineyards Pizza Wagon’s for their Bolognese fries before they sell out. I’ve had them and their delicious.
All fries will be fried in oil from SK Oil Sales, the local fryer oil specialist. I did not know there was such a thing.
Live music from 6 bands including Weird Radicals, Fairy Bones and Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold will entertain the crowd. DJ’s Stoneypie, Reverse Cowboy and Maintenance will be mixing it up too.
Fry fanatics are invited to ride their bikes to the festival and have them valeted by Phoenix Spokes People. Gracie’s Tax Bar will be preparing cocktails along with craft beers and Jarritos sodas.
Fried will benefit Downtown Phoenix Inc. that helps to promote the downtown community.
Tickets for Fried: A French Fry & Music Festival are $15 on only available on-line. The festival goes from 2-10 p.m. at 1202 N. 3rd St. Phoenix 85004.
It’s hard to believe we’re closer to the end of our busy season here in Phoenix than the beginning. In the next month spring training fans and winter visitors will head home to wait out the hot Arizona spring and summer. Restaurants will cut back their hours of operation and food festivals will go on hiatus for a few months. Don’t worry foodies we still have 10 days in May of Arizona Restaurant Week to look forward to. Save the date of Friday May 17th – Sunday May 26th and make your reservations soon.
Arizona Restaurant Week is when many local restaurants entice new and returning customers with unique 3 course prix-fixe tasting menus for $33 or $44. It’s a great reason to visit a new restaurant or favorite one.
“Arizona Restaurant Week has become one of the most popular dining events in the state,” says Arizona Restaurant Association president and CEO, Steve Chucri. “We are proud to have a hand in sharing our state’s culinary chops with residents and visitors alike, and give our local restaurants a platform to showcase their amazing talents through a fun and creative outlet.”
Many Phoenix restaurants participate as well as restaurants from around the state including Tucson and Flagstaff. Restaurants are being added daily to the list as are their menus being submitted. Here is a short list of a restaurants participating.
Mother Bunch Brewing Co.
The Keg Steakhouse + Bar
The Melting Pot
Four Peaks Brewing Company
Thirsty Lion Gastropub
The Canal Club
Buck & Rider
If you’re a long-range planner save the date of September 20th – 29th 2019 as Fall Arizona Restaurant Week has been announced.
Full service caterer Farmboy American Fare has begun a boxed lunch service for perfect group picnics, sales meetings and more. “The Red Tractor Lunchbox” program offers lunch for groups of 10 or more and a portion of all boxes sold will benefit childhood hunger programs. 25 cents from each box sold will be donated to the Association of Arizona Food Banks (AAFB). When ordering online customers can choose to donate more.
“Growing up on the farm, you didn’t think twice about helping someone in need. It’s just what you did to be a good neighbor,” said Zach Gibbs, owner of Farmboy American Fare. “The Red Tractor Lunchbox” giving campaign is our way of carrying on that tradition. I can’t think of a better way to do that than by feeding people, which is what we love to do.”
Each meal comes individually boxed and customers can choose from salads, sandwiches, wraps and BBQ. A Blue Ribbon Prime Rib Sandwich, Harvest Bounty Plate, Southern Fried Chicken are a few options. Executive chef Mike Scoplitte brings over 30 years of experience to Farmboy American Fare. In addition to catering Farmboy also schedules pop-up dinners offering fun culinary experiences.
One in four children in Arizona don’t get consistent meals they need to grow and thrive. “Children who are focused on their growling tummies can’t focus on learning,” said Angie Rodgers, president and CEO of AAFB. “Through special grants and donations like the “Red Tractor Lunchbox” giving campaign, we work to support our community in making sure kids get the nutrition they need through programs such as the Summer Food Service Program, School Meals and Alternative Breakfast Models.”
Once prepared the lunch boxes will be delivered to your door or office and may arrive via tractor.
Farmer’s markets have become very popular around Phoenix the last few years. It’s hard to not to find a farmer’s market in each of the valley’s communities. One of the longest running farmer’s markets is the Open Air Market at The Phoenix Public Market in downtown Phoenix. The Open Air Market happens every Saturday morning and on Saturday February 16th it will celebrate its 14th anniversary.
Drop by between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. to find local vendors offering seasonal fresh produce, foods and healthy products. Many of the vendors have been there from the beginning.
For the celebration there will be live music, a special anniversary raffle, giveaways and more. Kids can have their face painted, participate in a scavenger hunt and make kids crafts.
9 a.m. Native Seed/ SEARCH Workshop: Spring Gardening in the Desert. 10 a.m Yoga with Sutra Studios. 11 a.m. A cooking demonstration
The Open Air Market is a non-profit organization that creates a sense of community by supporting small farmers and business’s. They help strengthen the sustainable food systems and make healthy products available in the local community.
They’ve awarded vendor scholarships four times a year and work as a small business incubator. They’ve helped to support over a dozen local farms over the years.
The Market is at 721 N. Central Ave. (McKinley & Central) Phoenix 85004. For more information visit their website.
After finding loyal fans for their cookie dough Scoopwell’s Dough Bar is opening Saturday January 12th at Phoenix’s Uptown Plaza. Kendra and John Scheer started Scoopwell’s Dough Bar in early 2018 as a pop-up at Tempe Public Market Cafe. The pop-up was a success selling out and the husband and wife team decided to open a permanent store front.
“We can’t wait to open in Uptown Plaza,” said Kendra Scheer. “Whether you checked us out earlier this year, or you’ve never tried edible cookie dough before, we promise to save you something sweet.”
Scoopwells’ offer 11 different dough flavors and even more sweet toppings. Gourmet flavors include Lemon Poppyseed, Brownie Batter and Rainbow Sprinkle are made from scratch. Delicious seasonal flavors and other year round favorites will be served. Mix-in Twix bars, peanut butter chips, pretzels and others for even more enjoyment.
When the doors open at 10:00 a.m. sharp the first 50 people in line will get Free Dough For A Year. The punch card they receive will be good for 1 small cup of dough a month. If you’re not one of the first 50, you’ll receive a free collectible gift and entered to win an Uptown Plaza gift bag.
For an even sweeter deal Scoopwell’s will be handing out gifts and giveaways all weekend long.
Find Scoopwell’s at 100 E. Camelback Rd #164 Phoenix 85012.
Earlier in the year Macayo’s Mexican Restaurants made available a limited amount of recipe boxes and they sold out quickly. I’m glad to report the custom-made wood boxes filled with family recipes are available and will again sell out quickly. If you haven’t bought presents for your favorite foodie or home chef these would make a perfect gift.
Friday December 14th at 9:00 a.m. they will go on sale on-line and at their Mesa, Phoenix and Glendale locations. Each Recipe Box includes 72 family recipes including Spinach Con Queso, Green Chile Pork Stew and Cilantro Lime Chicken Salad.
Each Recipe Box is $35 plus tax with a limit to 2 per person. Macayo’s will donate $5 of each sale to Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-Cap).
The three locations where the boxes will be available are…..