The Butcher, the Baker: A Pastry Chef Picks Up a Cleaver in Learning the True Meaning of Farm-to-Table

Evie Carpenter
I will not chicken out. Okay, I might.

Before me on a plastic table is a chicken -- throat slashed, naked of feathers, still warm. The eyes are closed and since the neck has been cut to drain the blood, rendering my chicken lifeless, the neck is floppy and attached by only a few tendons. My job now is to put my hand around its head and pull.

I grasp the head and yank. Nothing happens. I readjust my grip, apologizing to dead Chicken Little for covering his entire face with my sweaty hand, and pull with all my might. The tendon releases and I am holding a chicken head. I loosen my grip and look at the little head balanced in the cup of my hand. I expect to feel sick, but instead I feel pride. I drop the head into the bucket and set about working through the rest of the butchering process.

I am at Davis Family Organic Farm in Queen Creek on a warm, sunny Saturday in April to butcher the chickens I have paid the farm to raise for me. This program is offered to people who don't have the room or knowledge to raise chickens themselves. I bought five of them.

You put a down payment of $15 per bird, then pay the balance (minus your deposit) after the butchering, based on the weight of each bird at the cost of $5 per pound. Not a bad deal for the freshest meat you can imagine. The one caveat is that you must participate in the slaughter of the animals before taking your meat home.

"I am a chef!" I scream in my mind as I stare at the dead chicken before me. This is part of what I do. Well, not really what I do as a pastry chef, but what I have always wanted to learn. Here is a chance to jump in, and I'm balking.

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Happy Hour at The Main Ingredient in Phoenix

Heather Hoch
East Coast versus West Coast cocktails during Main Ingredient's happy hour.
The Main Ingredient is a neighborhood hang out in all the best ways. It's not frilly and it's definitely not upscale, but it is a nice, casual spot in a cozy old house. The big patio is perfect this time of year to sit and sip happy hour drinks with your pooch or some friend or both. On Mondays you can do happy hour all day from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. and the rest of the week the bar/restaurant offers discounts from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.

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15 Metro Phoenix Chefs and Restaurateurs Share Favorite Ways to Cook a Turkey

Categories: Bites & Dishes

Dinner's on.
It's tough to have a great Thanksgiving dinner without a great turkey, and with so many different options for preparation, who can decide?

We gathered some insight from Valley chefs on how they like to prepare their turkeys.

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The Upton Opens Today in Former Petite Maison Space in Scottsdale -- Here's the Menu

Categories: Now Open

Lauren Saria
The new restaurant will feature an expanded back patio.
In the blink of an eye -- ok, more like two weeks -- the little house that was once Petite Maison has been transformed into a sleek, vibrant new restaurant. Called The Upton, the new dining destination features the talents of former Petite Maison sous chef Chris Schlattman, who's teamed up with co-owners Sean Zimmerman, Bran Oberg, and Pouria Malihi on the new concept.

As of today the restaurant is open for dinner with plans to add Sunday brunch and supper by the beginning of next month.

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iCream Café Is Now Open in Mesa: Ice Cream, Sorbet, and Gelato Made with Liquid Nitrogen

Categories: Now Open

iCream Cafe
Chicago-based frozen dessert chain iCream Cafe opened their newest location on Saturday, November 22 at Mesa's Riverview Shopping Center.

Unlike your typical ice cream shop, this eatery specializes in using liquid nitrogen to flash freeze frozen desserts created by the customers -- and the offerings go beyond just ice cream; you'll also find sorbet, yogurt, and even rice pudding.

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Franco's Italian Cafe in Scottsdale: Classic, Sophisticated, and Delicious

Categories: Cafe Review

Jackie Mercandetti
Seafood risotto at Franco's Italian Cafe.
I rarely eat in Italian restaurants. Raised on basic Italian fare, I'm put off by menus featuring chicken parmigiani and "gourmet" versions of pasta fagioli (peasant food, made with white beans and macaroni in a watery tomato broth, but invariably Italian-­Americanized with veal and a half­-dozen vegetables in the pretentious "Italian" diners that serve it).

Franco's Italian Café is an exception I am always happy to make. Offering a sophisticated cuisine both rustic and refined, this posh Scottsdale restaurant's tired décor (exposed ductwork; big black-­and-­white framed photos of Italian movie stars) is less kitsch or bad planning than an homage to our recent culinary past, when Franco's was a mainstay of fine Italian dining.

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Stone Master of Disguise: The Green Ketchup of Beers

Zach Fowle
Beer: Master of Disguise
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
Style: Golden Stout, I Guess?
ABV: 9.7 percent

Remember green ketchup? Heinz, those crazy bastards, launched an emerald-hued version of the condiment -- made, I'm assuming, with ground-up leprechauns and seaweed -- in 2000. It was incomprehensibly popular for about five years, until people realized they were eating green ketchup, and stopped the madness.

I couldn't stop thinking about green ketchup as I sipped Master of Disguise, the newest ale from Stone Brewing Co. It has all the aspects of your standard imperial stout: It's crazy-thick, sliding into the glass with motor-oil consistency. It smells like cocoa nibs, light roast coffee, baked wheat bread, green bananas and wet tree leaves. The flavor is permeated with coffee beans and chocolate, accented by subtler fruity yeast notes of red apple and pear. It the mouth, the brew's viscous and lightly carbonated, and it finishes with a blast of sweet cocoa and a lingering alcohol bite. It's a tasty example of an imperial stout.

Only problem is, it's orange.

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Olivia Wingert of Souvia on How to Brew Better Tea

Categories: Grind

Zaida Dedolph
A perfectly extracted cup of Souvia tea.

Souvia Tea isn't the kind of place that commands attention, but when you visit you might not want to leave. Located in a strip mall in north Phoenix, the shop is quiet, clean, and unassuming. Its soft, sweet aromas, floor-to-ceiling tea cannisters, and myriad steeping devices kind of make walking into the shop feel like walking into a fairy tale cottage.

Owner Olivia Wingert has cultivated this experience. After she left her hometown near Frankfurt, Germany, Wingert felt overwhelmed by the fast-paced lifestyle and coffee-loving climate of the United States. She wanted to emulate the experience of village living and build a community centered around tea. As Souvia enters its tenth year as a cafe and wholesale operation, it's clear that she has succeeded.

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15 Metro Phoenix Chefs and Restaurateurs Share Their Worst Thanksgiving Nightmares

Categories: Bites & Dishes

Thanksgiving: A time to enjoy friends, family, turkey, and small kitchen fires.

We can all relate to a Thanksgiving horror story -- the time your mom forgot to turn on the oven or the deep fryer blew. But it's different at a chef's house, right? Think again. We've been talking to some of Valley's top chefs and restauranteurs and they've got some stories that are going to make you feel very good about yourself -- and your Thanksgiving table. You're welcome.

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Mac & Cheese Throwdown 2014 Tickets Are On Sale Now -- And They Usually Go Fast

Categories: Events

Kristin Heggli
Last year's winning Mac & Cheese from Chef Richard Garcia of Café ZuZu.
We're about to launch head first into the holiday season, which means lots of hours-long family dinners and events where we all stuff ourselves silly with food and drink. In keeping with that theme, we'd like you to know that the fifth annual Mac & Cheese Throwdown, hosted by Girl Meets Fork Marketing & Media and Diya Marketing, is just around the corner.

This year's cheesy competition will be held at House of Comedy at High Street (formerly City North) and will feature macaroni and cheese creations from 12 local restaurants and chefs. Best of all, if you go, you get to eat as much of it as you can.

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