As a kid growing up in Texas and Louisiana, TEXAZ Grill owner Steve Freidkin now has fond memories of his mama’s mashed tater salad. So when he got tired of throwing away the leftover mashed potatoes at his popular Phoenix restaurant, he recalled the potato salad of his youth. “I thought, well, dang. It worked for my family. Maybe it will work here.”
The verdict? “Some people like it and some people are a little freaked out by it,” he says. “It’s a little different, but c’mon, it’s got bacon in it so it’s got to be good.”
Freidken uses russet potatoes with the skin on and makes the dressing separately from the salad. “It has most of the ingredients of a Southern-style potato salad, but it’s got a little Louisiana flair to it.”
Earlier this month, 14 chefs gathered at The Camby hotel in Central Phoenix for the Rock the Guac competition in honor of National Guacamole Day and benefitting Free Arts of Arizona. Their challenge? Creating different guacamoles designed to stand out.
I know taste testing 14 different guacamoles may seem like a dream, but let me tell you that guac has the tendency to taste more or less the same after a few scoops. But in the name of journalism, I persevered.
The sweetest (perhaps weirdest) take was from Tarbell’s in Phoenix that whipped up a chocolate mousse dessert topped with an avocado mousse/puree. It was tasty but let’s face it, couldn’t pass as guacamole. I can’t say there were any competitors that I flat out didn’t like at all, but my favorite was The Market by Jennifer’s. I loved that the chef used focaccia instead of the hackneyed tortilla chip and how she managed to seamlessly blend many different flavors and textures together.
Below are four guacamoles that stood out, both to me and the official judges, plus a recipe for the first prize winner.
Pancake lovers, your special day is coming. Tuesday, Sept. 26 has been deemed National Pancake Day and if you’re looking for a new recipe to wow your friends and family (perhaps this weekend since pancakes are more "lazy Sunday" than "gotta get to work Tuesday"), we’ve got a good one for you.
As we approach cooler autumn nights, it’s hard not to dream about simmering soups and soul-satisfying stews. It’s almost time to turn on the oven again.
To that end, Chef Jean-Christophe Gros of Voila! French Bistro shares a recipe for traditional beef bourguignon that he serves at his Scottsdale Ranch restaurant. He’s fond of the recipe because it reminds him of moments he’s shared with his family over the years.
Football season has officially started, and it’s time to up your snacking game. Trent Averhoff, assistant general manager of Dave & Buster’s at Tempe Marketplace, offers a suggestion for an easy, crowd-pleasing appetizer that you can whip up at home. And everyone loves tater tots, he says. “Tater tots call to your inner child.” He makes a good point.
Gone are the days of bland continental buffets and dry chicken breasts at your hotel's diner. More and more, talented Valley chefs are decamping from standalone restaurants to helm the kitchens of Phoenix's impressive hotels and resorts. But that's old news to Charles Wiley, who's been churning out impossibly fresh, creative and expertly made food at Valley resort restaurants for years.
With more than 40 years of experience under his belt, Wiley’s list of accolades is impressive: Food & Wine magazine named him one of “The Ten Best New Chefs in America,” and the James Beard Foundation recognized him as “One of the Best Hotel Chefs of America.” He worked for a decade at The Boulders before opening Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort in 2001. He went down the road to run the Hotel Valley Ho’s dining program in 2005 and opened the revamped Mountain Shadow Resort’s signature restaurant Hearth ’61 as executive chef and director of food and beverage earlier this year.
PHOENIX recently caught up with Wiley to chat about opening a new restaurant, how the Valley’s culinary landscape has changed since he first arrived, and the current trend of why so many top local chefs are working at hotels.*
To raise awareness and funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Chompie’s is partnering with Singleton Moms, an Arizona-based nonprofit organization that supports single-parent families affected by cancer.
During September, Chompie’s will donate $1 to Singleton Moms from each entrée ordered from the deli’s special three-item menu, which includes Josh’s Whole Grain French Toast, Classic Grandpa Ruby’s Reuben and the Fitness Omelet.
French toast is one of those breakfast items that most people tend to order in restaurants rather than make at home. The folks at Taco Guild whip up a mean coconut French toast for their Saturday and Sunday brunch, but market chef Dan Santos has gladly shared the recipe for those who want to try their hand at griddling the bread at home.
If you’ve stopped by The Phoenician lately, you’ve probably noticed that the grand dame of Scottsdale resorts is undergoing a major renovation. Along with a new lobby and bar, spa and pool area, the hotel will be replacing the longstanding Il Terrazzo restaurant with a more casual concept, Mowry & Cotton, named after two gents who opened one of Phoenix’s first fine liquor establishment (or so the legend goes).
Eat and drink your way through the Valley with our delectable daily dispatches on everything from craft cocktail bars to mom-and-pop neighborhood spots. To get food-and-bev news delivered to your inbox, sign up for our Eat Beat newsletter.