Here Are the 2015 Big Brain Award Finalists in Culinary Arts -- and More

Categories: Big Brains

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It's time for some well-deserved applause, Phoenix. Today we're announcing the 2015 Big Brain Award finalists.

Each spring, these awards put the spotlight on emerging creatives and give them cash to keep up the good work. After sifting through a long list of Big Brain nominees, we've narrowed the field to 15 finalists, including 3 finalists in culinary arts.


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Big Brain Awards 2015: Nominate Emerging Phoenix Creatives for Cash Prizes (and There's a Food Category)

Categories: Big Brains

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We dig you, Phoenix.

That's why every spring we hunt for emerging creatives doing exceptional things in metro Phoenix and award the best and brightest with Big Brain Awards and cash prizes. They're gems, these up-and-coming sculptors, dancers, musicians, and chefs. It's what makes them Big Brains.

For the 2015 awards, we've created a new category, music, to recognize creative types working to make Phoenix sound better. Big Brain nominations are open now through Monday, March 16, for Valley residents who deserve to win $500 in the following categories: visual art, performing art, design, culinary art, and music.


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Charleen Badman of FnB Restaurant: 2014 Urban Legend Award, Culinary Arts

Categories: Big Brains

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Lauren Saria
Charleen Badman in her home garden.
In honor of the fifth annual Big Brain Awards, New Times is recognizing five Urban Legends, established creative pioneers who have made Phoenix a better, cooler place.

Leading up to the Big Brain Awards announcement and Artopia on April 25, Jackalope Ranch, Chow Bella, and Up on the Sun will profile the legends. Up today: Charleen Badman.

"We'll accomplish so much more if we work together," FnB chef Charleen Badman says.

She's sitting in one of the cozy dining rooms at her Scottsdale restaurant talking about her vision for schools and food education. The James Beard Award-nominated chef is passionate about lots of things -- yoga, gardening, and, of course, cooking -- and near (if not at) the top of the list is teaching young people where food comes from.

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Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.: 2014 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Culinary Arts (VIDEO)

Categories: Big Brains

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Katie Johnson
John Buford co-founded Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
You submitted nominations for awards given to the Valley's emerging creatives, and the results are in. Introducing our 2014 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the Big Brain Award announcement and Artopia on April 25, Jackalope Ranch and Chow Bella will introduce the finalists. Up today: Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.

Arizonans are pretty accustomed to the seasonal beer trends: hefeweizens in the summer, pumpkin ales in autumn, and the occasional holiday cider.

But thanks to an up-and-coming brewery, Arizona is finally experiencing a trend that's truly fresh.

In the seven months since opening, Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. has produced 65 beers in 44 styles. It's a turnover rate that earns the Gilbert-based beer business both devoted followers and frustrated fans. But brewery co-owners Jonathan Buford, Patrick Warem, and Brett Dettler wouldn't have it any other way.


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Stephanie Teslar of Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails: 2014 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Culinary Art (VIDEO)

Categories: Big Brains

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Heather Hoch
Stephanie Teslar serves up her Border Patrol cocktail at Blue Hound.
You submitted nominations for awards given to the Valley's emerging creatives and the results are in. Introducing our 2014 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the Big Brain Award announcement and Artopia on April 25, Jackalope Ranch and Chow Bella will introduce the finalists. Up today: Stephanie Teslar.

Stephanie Teslar has really outdone herself.

While curating the cocktail menu at Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails, she created one of the Valley's most unique and instantly alluring mixed drinks: the Lawless. The show-stopping drink combines whiskey, wormwood liqueur, demerara sugar, and Teslar's handmade "truck stop" bitters, which contain "everything you'd buy at a truck stop," like chocolate, coffee, and tobacco. With that smoky, sweet, and dark combination of flavors stirred and chilled, she smokes a glass with vanilla caramel pipe tobacco and pours in the concoction.

The result is an aromatic, sippable cocktail that embodies all the best elements of drinking whiskey while smoking a cigar. It's this innovative, unique approach that sets Teslar apart.


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Aisha Tedros of A.T. Oasis Coffee and Tea Shop: 2014 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Culinary Arts (VIDEO)

Categories: Big Brains

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Lauren Saria
Aisha Tedros of A.T. Oasis Coffee and Tea Shop.
You submitted nominations for awards given to the Valley's emerging creatives, and the results are in. Introducing our 2014 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the Big Brain Award announcement and Artopia on April 25, Jackalope Ranch and Chow Bella will introduce the finalists. Up today: Aisha Tedros.

"Anyone can do it," Aisha Tedros says as she prepares a cup of strong coffee flavored with ground ginger, a specialty from her hometown in Africa. "I was always told that about America, and it's true."

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"Urban Legend" Awards Announced in Honor of New Times' Fifth Big Brain Awards

Categories: Big Brains

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Last week we announced the finalists for New Times' 2014 Big Brain Awards. The annual awards recognize emerging Phoenix creatives in five categories, including culinary.

Today, we're back with another announcement. In celebration of the fifth Big Brain Awards (time flies, huh?) New Times also will give awards to five community leaders who have fostered local talent, mentored young artists, and are hard at work making Phoenix a better place to live -- and eat.

Call them elder statesmen. We say Urban Legends.

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Big Brain Update: Good Food Finder's Natalie Morris

Categories: Big Brains

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Natalie Morris
Natalie Morris gets up close and personal with what she eats.
Leading up to this year's Big Brain Awards, we're checking in with past winners. Up today: Natalie Morris.

Natalie Morris won her Big Brain award in 2010, before we had a culinary category. As our "wild card" category pick, her dedication to quality and sustainability of food, combined with her raw passion, made it clear that a culinary category had to be added in the future. Since her win, her dedication to education and the locavore lifestyle have spread roots from her Best Of award-winning website Good Food Finder to the MCC classrooms where she currently teaches.

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Announcing the 2014 Big Brain Finalists

Categories: Big Brains

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Your 2014 Big Brain Award finalists are here.
Today's the day, Phoenix. We're announcing the finalists for the 2014 Big Brain Awards.

Each spring, we recognize emerging Phoenix creatives -- and over the past 10 days, we've narrowed down our long list of nominations to 15 finalists in five categories.

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Big Brain Update: Welcome Diner's Michael Babcock and Jenn Robinson

Categories: Big Brains

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Lauren Saria
Michael Babcock and Jenn Robinson have more in the works this year than just Welcome Diner.
Leading up to this year's Big Brain Awards, we're checking in with past winners. Up today: Michael Babcock.

With a new spring menu and an expanded cocktail program, Michael Babcock's Southern food diner concept in Central Phoenix, Welcome Diner, is still reinventing itself through Babcock's guidance and creativity. However, that's not all he and his partner Jenn Robinson have planned for the Phoenix food world. We spoke to Babcock about his plans for the future and where he sees Phoenix heading in the next year.

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