Tom Harvey of Cuff in Glendale: "I Loved the Industry Long Before I Loved to Cook"

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Lauren Saria
Tom Harvey
Executive Chef
Cuff
5819 W Glendale Drive, Glendale
www.cuffdowntown.com

It might surprise you to hear that Tom Harvey, a former executive chef at Eddie V's in Scottsdale, chose to leave his comfortable, cushy corporate gig to help open an independent restaurant in downtown Glendale. But Harvey and business partner David Chang believe in the West Valley neighborhood.

'This community, it gives success to restaurants that really hard," Harvey says.

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Gabriele Bertaccini of iL Tocco Food: "Life Is About Beautiful Things"

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Courtesy of Gabriele Bertaccini
Gabriele Bertaccini
Owner, Executive chef
il Tocco Food
www.iltoccofood.com

Gabriele Bertaccini looks more like an Italian clothing model than a hardworking, ├╝ber successful chef. But if you get him talking about cooking, dining, and Italian cuisine, it becomes immediately clear that he's much more than just a handsome face and an exceptionally well-tailored suit. He waxes poetic about the beauty of sunsets, the sensual side of dining, and his passion for bringing a taste of his Italian homeland to his guests in a way that's nothing short of inspirational.

This fall the chef's underground dining series, Culinary Mischief, will enter its fifth season and already the first event has been met with overwhelming success. Within three hours of opening reservations for the exclusive dining event, Bertaccini received more than 225 responses.


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Stephen Eldridge of Pink Pony: "I Think We're Moving in the Right Direction"

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Lauren Saria
Stephen Eldridge
Executive Chef
Pink Pony
3831 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
www.pinkponyscottsdale.com /www.facebook.com/pinkponyscottsdale

You can't talk about dining in Old Town Scottsdale without mentioning the Pink Pony. After all, the steak house has been a part of the restaurant scene since for more than 60 years.

You can imagine that means there's a lot of history there, history that for the most part revolves around the restaurant's role as a gathering place during spring training. Over the years the restaurant has served a star-studded laundry list of baseball players. And their fans.


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Stephen Jones of Bootleggers: "I'm Just Going to Do the Damn Thing"

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Courtesy of Bootleggers
Chef Stephen Jones
Stephen Jones
Executive Chef
Bootleggers Modern American Smokehouse

When we met with Stephen Jones late last week, it'd been just over a week since he started his new gig as executive chef of Bootleggers Modern American Kitchen. And in just that short amount of time, he'd already written a new menu and formed some solid ideas about the changes he'll be bringing to the restaurant.

Jones, who came to Phoenix by way of Chicago in 2008, made his name in the local food scene when he opened Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails at Kimpton's Hotel Palomar in 2012. He'd been at a handful of other local restaurants prior, but it was his distinctive take on classic American and Southern cuisine at Blue Hound that propelled him to the forefront of the Valley's culinary scene.

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Silvana Salcido Esparza on Barrio Queen: "I'm Proud of What I Did"

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Lauren Saria
Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza
Silvana Salcido Esparza
Chef, Owner
Barrio Cafe
www.barriocafe.com

If you haven't been paying close attention, then the past few weeks may have been a bit confusing in regard to what exactly James Beard Award-nominated chef Silvana Salicido Esparza is and isn't up to these days. So first, let's clear up a few things.

As of mid-August, Esparza no longer is part of Barrio Queen in Scottsdale, which also means she's no longer a part of the second Barrio Queen location that will open in Gilbert. And those plans she had for a fast-casual spot on the west side? Those are shot too. Yes, she did help design a burrito concept for the Arizona Mills Mall food court, but it's not under her control now that it's open.


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Matt Zdeb of SumoMaya: "I Don't Want Anyone to Walk Out of Here Unhappy"

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Lauren Saria
Chef Matt Zdeb of SumoMaya in Scottadale
Matt Zdeb
Executive Chef
SumoMaya Mexican Asian Kitchen
www.sumomaya.com

When local restaurant owner German Osio announced his plans to open an ambitious Mexican-Asian restaurant last summer, he immediately made SumoMaya one of 2014's most-anticipated dining spots. Then Osio stoked the fire even more by announcing celebrity-chef Herb Wilson would be heading up the kitchen.

Well, SumoMaya finally opened in June but after just two months Wilson jumped ship to go open another new restaurant in Florida. That left former executive sous chef Matt Zdeb holding the reins to one of Scottsdale's buzz-iest dining spots.

"This is more than I ever could have imagined when I sat down with German," Zdeb says.


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Catching Up with Felicia Ruiz of Lola Tapas: Plant-Based Diets and Getting Back to Her Roots

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Lauren Saria
Felicia Ruiz
Natural Chef

Recently we've been talking about the local dining spots of former days and our trip down memory lane connected us with chef Felicia Ruiz, who many will know from Lola Tapas. Ruiz ran the well-loved restaurant until June 2010 and when it shuttered, many a Phoenician lost a favorite dining spot.

Fortunately, Ruiz isn't one to dwell on the negative side of life. And her fans will be happy to know she's still very much involved in the food community -- though in a different capacity.

"It allowed me to get back to my roots," Ruiz says of the restaurant's closing.


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Aaron Pool of Gadzooks Enchiladas and Soups on the Perfect Enchiladas and Why Sporks Suck

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Lauren Saria
Aaron Pool
Owner, founder
Gadzooks Enchiladas and Soup
3313 N. 7th St.
www.gadzooksaz.com

When you hear the word "Gadzooks," you probably don't think of food. Toys, maybe. Or a children's clothing store. But a place for a good meal isn't likely to be the closest association.

"People assume it's going to be shitty," Aaron Pool says of the restaurant's name. "It's not like I planned it like that, but I like to under-promise and over-deliver."

If you've eaten at the quirkily named Gadzooks Enchiladas and Soup in Central Phoenix, you may have noticed a tall skinny guy with a messy mop of hair working the line. He blends in with the rest of the restaurant's staff, but to the surprise of many, he's no employee.

That fresh-faced guy in the gray Gadzooks shirt is Aaron Pool, the restaurant's owner and creator. And, yes, he's still a few years shy of 30.


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Chef Patrick Karvis of TapHouse Kitchen: "If I Were to Open My Own Restaurant, This Would Be It"

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Lauren Saria
Patrick Karvis
Executive Chef
TapHouse Kitchen
www.taphousekitchen.com

There's certainly no shortage of beer-focused restaurants opening around town these days. Which chef Patrick Karvis knows is making it difficult for his restaurant to stand out.

"That's the way it works," the chef says with a shrug. "Five years ago it was sushi."

It's a fitting reference since the four-month old TapHouse Kitchen sits in the former home of Blue Wasabi, a sushi restaurant that opened back in 2008. And Karvis knows first-hand how trends come and go, having been living and cooking in the Valley since 1992.


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Pastry Chef Marisa Lown on Eating Well: "It's Not a One Size Fits All for Everyone"

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Evie Carpenter
Marisa Lown
Pastry chef
The Radical Cupcake
theradicalcupcake.blogspot.com

These days you won't find pastry chef Marisa Lown in a restaurant kitchen, but that doesn't mean she's left the Valley pastry scene. Lown is still active both in her kitchen and on social media as The Radical Cupcake, which was once the name of her custom bakeshop that specialized in allergy-friendly and organic baked goods. She stopped that side of the business, but is now offering allergy-friendly consulting services to restaurants and chefs.

According to Lown, it's a growing priority for chefs and restaurateurs.

"From a restaurant perspective, food allergies are the bane of their existence," she says.


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