One-man chef/waiter/busboy Christopher Van Arsdale creates thrilling culinary theater at his beloved Scottsdale café.
When chef/owner Christopher Van Arsdale opened Café Monarch in 2007, he didn’t envision the restaurant – set in a converted extended-stay motel on the western edge of Old Town Scottsdale – as a one-man operation. It just turned out that way.
“After the first year, I ended up with a revolving door of employees flaking out or bringing chaos,” says the charismatic 50-year-old, running a hand over his close-cropped, salt-and-pepper hair. “I thought, ‘I’ve had enough of this, I’m just going to clean house and do it all myself.’”
BACK OF THE HOUSE
For Yupha Dequenne, owner of Yupha’s Thai Kitchen in Tempe, opening a restaurant was always a dream, but her late husband would have “nothing to do with it, she said.
She moved to the United States from Bangkok 40 years ago, earned two master’s degrees and had a longtime banking career. But she always loved to cook, and owning a restaurant was a dream she could never seem to get out of her system. So after she retired, she and her niece started the business in 2004.
Semi-retirement notwithstanding, legendary Valley sports and entertainment mogul Jerry Colangelo has a full lineup card.
Jerry Colangelo says he’s tried to back away from the spotlight. It just hasn’t worked. “People ask me what I’m doing now that I’m retired,” Colangelo says from his office near the Arizona Biltmore. “But I’m as busy as I’ve ever been. Now, I only do what I enjoy doing. I have the flexibility now.”
Dave Pratt is a hard rock-jock to keep down. After a mettle-testing six-year stretch that saw him beat prostate cancer just in time for his much-publicized sacking by country radio station KMLE, the Valley’s own “Morning Mayor” is back on the air for the first time since 2008. His new no-format show, Dave Pratt Live, debuted on 103.9 FM in August.
ARTIST OF THE MONTH
Les Lawrence is not necessarily a household name – unless you happened to purchase the artist’s individually signed dinnerware from Neiman Marcus in the ’80s. The Carefree resident is a big wheel in pottery circles, where fans spin tales about the talents and innovative techniques he applies to a discipline that dates back to ancient times.
Booksellers must scratch their heads over where to shelve prolific Pittsburgh-born author Jewell Parker Rhodes. She’s penned historical novels (Voodoo Dreams, Magic City), a memoir (Porch Stories), and two books on writing for African Americans. Her trilogy about a sexy New Orleans ER doctor who solves murders by vampires, ghosts and human monsters – Season, Moon and Hurricane – has enough cinematic sizzle to make you wonder why it’s not on cable yet. Current projects include a stage adaptation of her historical novel about the private life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass’ Women, as well as a young-adult novel. Rhodes, 57, is the Virginia G. Piper Chair in Creative Writing and Artistic Director of Piper Global Engagement at Arizona State University. We caught up with her by phone as she was packing for a trip to New Orleans to receive the American Library Association’s 2011 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book Award for her latest, Ninth Ward, a children’s novel set in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
A West Valley lawmaker with an Ivy League education wants to outflank Arizona’s budget cuts to support poor families and fellow veterans. Can he win?
When Ruben Gallego first returned from his Iraq deployment in 2005, he no longer cared about politics or helping his community.
After losing his best friend in combat, Gallego grew angry from his war experiences and the lack of services he saw for veterans back home. After all, he served in the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Lima Company, an infantry unit Gallego says saw more combat than most. The 3/25 – as it’s often called – lost 46 Marines and two Navy corpsmen between January 2005 and January 2006, according to the Marines’ website.
Chef/Creator and Owner of barrio cafÉ
Silvana Salcido Esparza thinks Scottsdale could stand an infusion of Mexican spice. And the James Beard-nominated chef is just the chica to administer it.
“The truth is, I’m a little bit ghetto,” she confides. “I’m gonna roll up on my low-rider motorcycle with lots of attitude and have a great time. You know when the economy tanks and a house goes for nothing and the Mexicans move in? Same thing here.”
Former Phoenix Police Chief Jack F. Harris is waiving his right to remain silent on the stormy ending to his storybook career.
Office politics and almost 40 years of chasing bad guys should have left Jack F. Harris a husk of a man. Instead, he has just gone for a 20-mile bike ride from Bell Road down into Paradise Valley, and now he’s ready to talk about why he is no longer Phoenix’s top cop. The reason involves illegal immigrants, he says. But on top of that, there’s a dead police sergeant, an internal fraud investigation, an officer accused of murdering a suspect (and the suspect’s dog) and accusations of falsifying crime statistics to obtain federal funds. Harris was chief for almost seven years, but he says the last 18 months were the most difficult period of his career.
BACK OF THE HOUSE
Lenard Rubin brings global influences and a fine dining background to the menu at the The Vig and The Vig Uptown, where he is a chef and partner.
The Vig, a funky Arcadia hangout, and the classy yet casual Vig Uptown, with its bocce ball court and bank vault (a remnant of the building’s past life) are ideal venues for his creative bar fare, featuring a ’round-the-world tour of tastes: carne asada on a potato pancake, flatbread pizza with tandoori chicken, Seoul sliders.
BACK OF THE HOUSE
Chrysa Robertson, owner and chef at Rancho Pinot in Paradise Valley, is a legend in the local food scene. She started Rancho Pinot in 1993, and it quickly racked up critical awards and mentions in national food magazines. She’s cooked at the James Beard House in New York and, in the late 1990s, founded the first Phoenix chapter of Slow Food, an international organization devoted to local, sustainable eating. In March, the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame named her “chef extraordinaire.”
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