Q&A Archives

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Chef Lee Hillson recently returned to T. Cooks at Royal Palms Resort and Spa as executive chef and he couldn’t be happier. He spent 12 years at the iconic resort in the early 2000s as executive sous chef and then as executive chef. Hillson, a James Beard House featured chef and a participant on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America, has also graced the kitchens of The Phoenician Resort and the Sheraton Grand at Wild...

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Q: What’s behind the decision to reinvent Phoenix Public Market Café? A: In the past six months I split with my business partner, so my business shrunk in half, which is a good thing. The last couple of years I’ve had a lot of growth in my business and I’ve decided that I miss being in the kitchen and spending time there and creating new menu items. Phoenix Public Market Café is my main restaurant...

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You spent about two years making your latest album. How did you know when it was finished? It definitely feels like a long time. I think there’s a little bit of an intangible feeling when something feels complete. On this record I wrote a lot more than I have in the past. I had a lot more options in terms of trying to craft what I thought would be the best story and best collection...

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Award-winning author Alejandro Zambra, one of Chile’s most celebrated writers, is visiting Phoenix this week for a bilingual literary residency organized by CALA Alliance in collaboration with Palabras Bilingual Bookstore, Cardboard House Press and Changing Hands Bookstore. Zambra's avant-garde narrative and storytelling has made him into one of the latest Latin American literary stars. In 2010, he was named one of Granta's Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists.

This week, he has already made a surprise visit to a book club discussing Bonsái, his first book, and started his bilingual workshop “How to Forget How to Write Fiction” at Palabras.
Zambra will be at Changing Hands Phoenix, on Thursday at 7 p.m., when he’ll read from his acclaimed novels Multiple Choice, Bonsai, The Private Lives of Trees, Ways of Going Home and My Documents. He will also be the guest of honor at Palabra’s Micro-Mania event (tagged as a night of readings from micro fictions, micro food – aka tapas – and jazz) this First Friday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The author, who has been named the "the most talked-about writer to come out of Chile since [Roberto] Bolaño” by the New York Times Book Review, feels the comparison a little off. “I’m probably taller than him,” Zambra jokes of his Chilean compatriot, who died from liver failure at the age of 50 in 2003. “He was a much better writer than I ever will be.”

PHOENIX magazine interviewed Zambra ahead of his book reading and signing this Thursday, and chatted about his experimental writing. (Responses have been translated from Spanish, and edited for clarity.)

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Deep in the heart of Detroit, the birthplace of motown, bluesy roots artist Samantha Fish recorded the first of two albums to be released this year. Out in March “Chills & Fever” strays from the 28-year-old's typical rock and roll/blues sound and itches a curiousity in soul music. November will see the release of her second album, “Belle of the West,” which is a return to Americana folk.

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The dining room at Hearth '61 at Mountain Shadows Resort. Photo by David B. Moore.

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.*

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