From now 'til we publish the 2012 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times and Chow Bella present 100 Tastemakers -- Valley residents who make the cut in our culinary scene. Some you'll know; for others, it'll be a first introduction (but likely not the last). While you're here, check out our 100 Creatives on Jackalope Ranch.
Today, we're getting a little cheesy.
Tastemaker 98: Lara Mulchay
In Phoenix, the title of Big Cheese easily belongs to Lara Mulchay, cheesemonger and co-owner of Hotdish Inc. Although her artisanal cheese and charcuterie spot, Petite Fromage, went on "hiatus" in 2010, Mulchay has stayed active in the cheese world as a founder of WedgeFestUSA and advocate for American artisan and craft cheese. This mother of two recently tied the knot with fellow Phoenix food nerd Joel LaTondress.
I arrived in Phoenix with... my mom, dad, and big brother, JP, by way of Tucson when I was 3 years old.
If I was sitting down to dinner for six, my five dream dining companions would be... Ha! Only five to choose from? Okay, here are my all-time favorite dinner companions in the past -- it would be awesome to have them all together at once. My husband, Joel LaTondress, Christopher Gross, Matt Carter, Michel Richard, and Michele Laudig.
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One place everyone who comes to Phoenix must eat is... La Fontanella Restaurant. I basically grew up in this restaurant, and I credit chef/owner Isabella Bertuccio with cultivating my food obsession at a young age. My favorites: chicken picatta, veal tournados, and my kids' favorite: mussels mariniere and fried calamari.
One menu item this city could do without is... kids' menus. It drives me crazy when a children's menu is offered and out comes Kraft mac and cheese or reheated frozen chicken nuggets. I find it offensive. I don't serve this to my kids at home -- why on Earth would I pay money to feed it to them at a restaurant ? Instead, I'd like to be able to order a smaller portion of an entree from the regular menu.
My last meal in Phoenix would be... The TeePee Restaurant. It's my favorite comfort food. Whenever I leave on a long trip, it's the last place I eat and the first place I want when I return.