Kelly Fletcher of The Revival on Why He's Playing It Safe

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Lauren Saria
Kelly Fletcher
Kelly Fletcher
Chef
The Revival
www.therevivalaz.com

For years chef Kelly Fletcher wooed diners from the kitchen at Tempe's House of Tricks, where he'd been working for some 10 years. But earlier this spring he left that post, seeking an opportunity to really do his own thing. He teamed up with business partner Chad Withycombe to breathe new life into Tempe's Mucho Gusto restaurant. They shut the place down for less than a month, remodeled, and The Revival was born.

Expectations were high but it's been a rocky start for the Arizona-native chef. Fletcher has already had to stop serving weekend lunch and brunch and admits he's been holding back so far.

"It had to be safe," Fletcher says of his menu.


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Bob Tam of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour: "We Want to Feed Those Who Feed Others"

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Bitter & Twisted
Bob Tam
Chef, partner
Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
www.bitterandtwistedaz.com

In the words of Bitter & Twisted Principle Barman and Proprietor Ross Simon, the downtown cocktail lounge is "a bar that happens to have great food." As in, first and foremost, this place is about the drinks.

But just because Bitter & Twisted isn't a "restaurant" per se, doesn't mean they've skimped when it comes to the culinary offerings. On the contrary, chef and partner Bob Tam has created an inspired menu of street food that's just about as forward-thinking as Simon's 24-page cocktail book. You might think that putting the drinks in the forefront would be a negative thing to a chef, but to the contrary Tam's used the situation to his advantage.


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Betty-Jane Hernandez of Havana Patio Cafe: "You Just Have to Roll with the Punches"

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Lauren Saria
BJ Hernandez of Havana Patio Cafe
BJ Hernandez
Havana Patio Cafe
Chef, owner
www.havanacafe-az.com

In 1991, when Betty-Jane (BJ) and Gilbert Hernandez opened Havana Cafe in a space just off Camelback Road, you couldn't even get chorizo or black beans in this town. You could smoke inside restaurant dining rooms (in fact, Havana Cafe eventually became the first non-smoking restaurant in the city) and very few people knew what Cuban food was all about.

Over the last two decades, little Havana Cafe has helped shape diners' understanding of the Caribbean island's cuisine. Or at least, they did until earlier this year when their building was sold to be razed and turned into a new restaurant from LGO Hospitality. The new concept will be the company's fourth in the bursting Arcadia dining scene.

"It's like the Foxs and the LGOs are having a turf war," Hernandez laughs.


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Matt Taylor of Gertrude's at Desert Botanical Garden: "It Doesn't Get More Arizonan Than This"

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Lauren Saria
Chef Matt Taylor
Matt Taylor
Executive Chef
Gertrude's at the Desert Botanical Garden
www.gertrudesrestaurant.net

It's been about four months since news broke that chef Matt Taylor would be taking over the kitchen at Gertrude's at the Desert Botanical Garden and since the initial announcement, we haven't head much from the chef or the restaurant. From the outside looking in, it would have been hard to tell there had been any change at all. The menu stayed the same and so did much of the staff.

But, as the chef explained to me last week, that's only because he was busy getting adjusted to a new kitchen -- while doing 1,200 covers a day.

"It would have been suicide" to make any changes during season, Taylor says.


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Jennifer Russo-Fitzgerald of The Market by Jennifer's: "I Think We're Finally Where We Want to Be"

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Lauren Saria
Jennifer Russo-Fitzgerald.
Jennifer Russo-Fitzgerald
Owner
The Market by Jennifer's
www.themarketbyjennifers.com

It's been about five months since The Market by Jennifer's opened its doors on the west-side of the Gaslight Square shopping center in Arcadia. And if you haven't been into the restaurant since its first few weeks, you might be surprised by the changes that have already been made during this short amount of time.

For owner and experienced caterer Jennifer Russo-Fitzgerald, nailing down a concept that best fits the neighborhood has been a bit like trying to hit a moving target. But she's confident they're getting closer everyday and are continuing to make small changes to help the restaurant become the cozy, neighborhood place she originally envisioned.

"I think we're finally where we want to be," she says.


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Jared Lupin of Umami: "I Try to Have That Visionary Brain, But With Food"

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Lauren Saria
Jared Lupin of Umami
Jared Lupin
Chef/owner
Umami
www.umamitempe.com

It might be more accurate to call Umami's Jared Lupin a ramen artist rather than a chef. After all, he really is one -- a former graffiti artist whose work once graced a wall at his restaurant. But he also takes a creative approach to ramen that makes the dish more personal than customers might realize.

"I've given it back to the people," Lupin says of the trendy Japanese dish.


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Michael O'Dowd of Urban Vine: "I'm Trying to Be Normal, But It's Hard."

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Lauren Saria
Michael O'Dowd
Michael O'Dowd
Executive Chef/Owner
Urban Vine
www.urbanvinephx.com

If you've experienced chef Michael O'Dowd's food already it was probably in one of two different contexts. Either you dined at Kai, when the chef was heading up Arizona's only Forbes five star and AAA five diamond restaurant, or you dined at Renegade by MOD, the short-lived restaurant that closed last year.

Now he's a opened new restaurant, Urban Vine -- and it's not like what he's done in the past.


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Dennis Delamater of The Post on Turning a Hotel Restaurant Into a Dining Destination

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Lauren Saria
Chef Dennis Delamater of The Post.
Dennis Delamater
Executive Chef
The Post at Crowne Plaza Phoenix Airport
www.crowneplazaphx.com

In January, after almost a year of renovations, the Crowne Plaza Phoenix Airport hotel unveiled a new name, look, and a dining outlet, The Post. The ambitious and expensive project aimed to turn the airport hotel into a more boutique destination -- complete with its own dining destination.

Chef Dennis Delamater, who joined the hotel in October 2013, is the man behind the restaurant's transformation.

"I've been a restaurant chef my whole life and I think that's really what they wanted," he says.


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Doc Brown of Doc's Artisan Ice Creams, Arizona's First Small-Batch Ice Creamery

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Lauren Saria
Doc Brown of Doc's Artisan Ice Cream
Doc Brown
Owner
Doc's Artisan Ice Cream
www.artisanicecreams.com

If you stop by Doc's Artisan Ice Cream in Tempe, you won't find a charming ice cream parlor with a brightly painted walls and beautifully displayed desserts. You'll probably find Brown working away in what amounts to an ice cream laboratory, chock-full of shining metal machines and other tools of the trade.

But don't let that fool you.

"We don't look all fancy inside," Brown admits. "But we make up for it in what we offer."


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Josh Bracher of Second Story Liquor Bar: "There's a Reason for Everything on the Plate"

Categories: Chef and Tell

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Lauren Saria
Chef Josh Bracher
Josh Bracher
Executive Chef
Second Story Liquor Bar
www.secondstoryliquorbar.com

It's been about two months since Second Story Liquor Bar opened in Old Town Scottsdale above The Gelato Spot. The cozy restaurant and bar brings a dose of old school style to the area's nightlife scene. Everything from the d├ęcor to the servers' uniforms oozes Mad Men-esque style and at the bar you'll find one of the most old fashioned bartenders, John Christie.

At the helm of the kitchen is chef Josh Bracher, a 27-year-old up-and-comer in the Valley dining scene.


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