Tastemaker No. 3

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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 guy with a big breakfast -- and a big heart.

See also:
-Tastemaker 2012 Archives

Matt Pool Tastemaker.jpg
Photo courtesy of Matt Pool

Tastemaker 3: Matt Pool

Matt Pool (pictured above with son Christopher and wife Ernie) got his start in the restaurant business as a 14-year-old Brophy Prep student, working almost 40 hours per week as a busboy at the French Corner in Uptown Plaza (which ironically enough is now a Good Egg!). He absolutely loved working there and was quickly hooked - he's worked in the industry ever since, from delivering pizza and working his way through ASU as a room server at the Phoenix Airport Hilton to bartending...you name it, he's done it. He opened Matt's Big Breakfast in 2004 with his wife Erenia and son Christopher on a quiet street corner, in what was then a much different downtown, and now also operate Giant Coffee just up the street at 1st Street and McDowell.

I arrived in Phoenix with.... my four brothers and sisters and parents and 19 boxes of our personal belongings on a Greyhound bus from Flagstaff after taking Amtrak from our hometown of Kansas City, Missouri.

If I was sitting down to dinner for six, my five dream dining companions would be... Dave Grohl, Jack Dorsey, Alice Waters, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, my late father Terry Pool (who loved sitting at diner counters).

One place everyone who comes to Phoenix must eat is... without a doubt Pizzeria Bianco. Chris Bianco's uncompromising commitment to stellar ingredients and food integrity is unmatched (and really is worth the wait).

One menu item this city could do without is... inexpensive truffle oil on anything.

My last meal in Phoenix would be... with my wife Erenia and son Christopher at Elements at the Sanctuary. We don't get a ton of time off for extended vacations and so Sanctuary is our go to spot for quick 2 or 3 day "stay-cations." Even though it's only 15 minutes away from our house, we're able to relax and spend time together and enjoy Arizona like tourists. We love Chef Beau Macmillan's unique blending of American and Asian flavors and his focus on great seasonal ingredients - no matter what time of day, the food and service is always top-notch at Elements.

The Tastemakers so far:

Location Info

Elements

5700 E. McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Pizzeria Bianco

623 E. Adams St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Matt's Big Breakfast

825 N. 1st St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Giant Coffee

1437 N. 1st St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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