Phoenix Phoodies: Rancho Pinot's Chrysa Makes Mozzarella

By Sloane Burwell
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It’s easy to see why Rancho Pinot has been wowing Valley diners for a decade and a half. Under the watchful eye of talented Chef Chrysa Robertson, they’ve nailed the restaurant trifecta – amazing food, impressive wine list, and impeccable service. Its quirky interior is the obvious reflection of her love of Phoenix. Charming and kitschy Southwestern ephemera dot the interior, where she displays part of her collection of antique western furniture. She’s been an ardent supporter of locally sourced ingredients before the term 'locavore' was part of the culinary lexicon, and helped start the Phoenix Slow Food Convivia with good friend, Chris Bianco. She’s still stirring the pot, so to speak, and this time she’s making fresh mozzarella.

Chow Bella: So how did you end up in Phoenix?
Chrysa Robertson: My parents moved out in the late '50s from Michigan. My grandfather came in the early '50s and bought some property and built three houses on it – for my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, and my family.

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CB: The art, the pictures, everything in the dining room, are they all from your collection?
CR: They didn’t all start out that way. It all started with Michael Collier. He does frames, he calls this “Cowboy Crap” (laughs). I’ve known him for years. When we were getting ready to open 15 years ago we saw him in the Trader Joe’s parking lot. He gave us some things just to have things on the wall. Over time, we’ve bought and added to it. I collect all of this antique and wooden carved furniture. People say it’s an extension of our living room.

CB: So I hear you are having a celebration for your 15th Anniversary.
CR: Yes! It’s Sunday, November 23rd. We’ll have several courses, it’ll be all of the classics that we’ve had over the years – the Rancho Pinot favorites. Our greatest hits.

CB: What inspired Mozzarella Mondays?
CR: Nancy Silverton in LA started in when I was working with her at Campanile. She was doing it on Monday’s and thought it would be cool. Our first night is on November 17th.

CB: Is it hard? I hear the water is really hot, and you could burn your hands.
CR: It’s not hard. You have to be careful. It’s my job to make it to order. When it’s warm its absolutely delicious. You put the curds in hot water, about 180 degrees, and stretch it from there. I’ll have a beautiful tomato broth, make a little ball of fresh mozzarella, put a thumbprint in it, fill it with pesto. Maybe make some paninis, roll it out, fill it. Whatever I feel like.

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