64: Marianne Belardi
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: A woman who's not afraid to admit she'd eat leftover butterscotch pudding for breakfast.
Tastemaker 64: Marianne Belardi
Marianne Belardi spent 15 years with the Cowboy Ciao group, wearing every hat from cook to promoter, but has now begun to reinvent herself. Despite her passion and enthusiasm for the hospitality industry, for many years she secretly dreamed of working in hospice where she will help people eat, drink and enjoy life or help people stop eating, drinking, and process death. You can tweet with Marianne about living, dying, food, nature at @ciaomari and read more of her family's and other stories at her website.
I arrived in Phoenix (in November 1989) with... the intention to exchange a cold, New York winter for an enviable suntan and quality time with my sister, while I waited to join the Nassau County police force. Two days after arriving, I landed a position as a French technical translator. By the time I received the academy's call-up notice, I had been thoroughly seduced by the climate, lifestyle, and affordability of our beautiful Sonoran desert. When the project I was translating was scrapped, a restaurant job seemed ideal to support myself while writing the proverbial great American novel. Much of my family was horrified, having envisioned me segueing from college to being a diplomat, interpreter or teacher, if not a cop. The 'restaurant bug' bit me, and I spent the next 5 years wearing pillbox hats and fishnet stockings, serving burgers and sass at the late, great fifties diner tribute that was Ed Debevic's. I'm still having trouble removing that stinger.
If I were sitting down to dinner for six, my five dream dining companions would be... so difficult to choose, as I can imagine dozens of such tables. I have scribbled ideas for a book based on this, no joke. Each chapter would be a dinner party, detailing the menu, venue, guests, and ensuing conversation/shenanigans. I wouldn't sit with them; but I would join in the camaraderie and conversation while I cooked for, and served them, in a big, farm-style kitchen. Here's a sample:
Wisecracking sexpots: Anaïs Nin, Mae West, Dorothy Parker, Marilyn Monroe, Cher, Madonna.
theoristsarecool.wordpress.com Carl Jung
Spiritual philosophers: Carl Jung, Leo Buscaglia, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Louise Hay, Marianne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle.
Female writers: Jane Austen, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Agatha Christie, Erma Bombeck, M.F.K. Fisher.
Gemini men: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Cole Porter, JFK, Andy Griffith, Maurice Sendak, Prince/Johnny Depp [they're so thin, they could share one chair].