98: Lara Mulchay

Lara Mulchay tastemaker.jpg
Adam Nollemeyer, Acme Photography

From now 'til we publish the 2012 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times and Chow Bella present 100 Tastemakers -- Valley residents who make the cut in our culinary scene. Some you'll know; for others, it'll be a first introduction (but likely not the last). While you're here, check out our 100 Creatives on Jackalope Ranch.

Today, we're getting a little cheesy.

Tastemaker 98: Lara Mulchay

In Phoenix, the title of Big Cheese easily belongs to Lara Mulchay, cheesemonger and co-owner of Hotdish Inc. Although her artisanal cheese and charcuterie spot, Petite Fromage, went on "hiatus" in 2010, Mulchay has stayed active in the cheese world as a founder of WedgeFestUSA and advocate for American artisan and craft cheese. This mother of two recently tied the knot with fellow Phoenix food nerd Joel LaTondress.

I arrived in Phoenix with... my mom, dad, and big brother, JP, by way of Tucson when I was 3 years old.

If I was sitting down to dinner for six, my five dream dining companions would be... Ha! Only five to choose from? Okay, here are my all-time favorite dinner companions in the past -- it would be awesome to have them all together at once. My husband, Joel LaTondress, Christopher Gross, Matt Carter, Michel Richard, and Michele Laudig.

One place everyone who comes to Phoenix must eat is... La Fontanella Restaurant. I basically grew up in this restaurant, and I credit chef/owner Isabella Bertuccio with cultivating my food obsession at a young age. My favorites: chicken picatta, veal tournados, and my kids' favorite: mussels mariniere and fried calamari.

One menu item this city could do without is... kids' menus. It drives me crazy when a children's menu is offered and out comes Kraft mac and cheese or reheated frozen chicken nuggets. I find it offensive. I don't serve this to my kids at home -- why on Earth would I pay money to feed it to them at a restaurant ? Instead, I'd like to be able to order a smaller portion of an entree from the regular menu.

My last meal in Phoenix would be... The TeePee Restaurant. It's my favorite comfort food. Whenever I leave on a long trip, it's the last place I eat and the first place I want when I return.

The Tastemakers so far:
100: Tracy Dempsey
99: Craig DeMarco
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Location Info

La Fontanella Italian Restaurant

4231 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Tee Pee Mexican Food

4144 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
6 comments
Ottis
Ottis

Yo Joel -  Did you get the prenup?  Should have checked the skeletons in her closet.

Rips people off.  Her cheese prices are out of control, way over market.

Hey Lara -  Pay people back, its tough in a town this small to always look over your shoulder.

Dan Moody
Dan Moody

Hey Ottis:

Lara is one of the sweetest, kindest, most honest people I know. First, what is your claim against her? Who didn't she "pay back"? SECOND, and this is the bigger one, where the f*&^ do you get off making threats against someone like this? 

Let's hear what you've got to say, internet tough guy. And post with a signed in account and not some anonymous claim. That's BS. Stand behind what you say, you big bully. 

You're pathetic.

DRM

David Bickford
David Bickford

Great job, Lara, and congratulations on being selected. About those kids' menus, I have mixed feelings. If they're based on substandard, junky foods, that's a negative. On the other hand, a kids' menu signifies that a restaurant welcomes families with children and helps keep costs down. As you suggest, the best kids' menus are based on smaller portions of the food the restaurant serves to adults.

TysonRossi
TysonRossi

Love this...I couldn't agree more..."One menu item this city could do without is... kids' menus. It drives me crazy when a children's menu is offered and out comes Kraft mac and cheese or reheated frozen chicken nuggets. I find it offensive. I don't serve this to my kids at home -- why on Earth would I pay money to feed it to them at a restaurant ? Instead, I'd like to be able to order a smaller portion of an entree from the regular menu."

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