From now until we publish the 2016 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times is naming 100 Tastemakers — members of our local culinary community who help shape the way we eat, drink, and think about food in Phoenix. Some you'll know, and for others, it'll be a first introduction, but each person on our list deserves a nod for helping make our city so delicious. Oh, and while you're here, be sure to check out our list of 100 Creatives.
21. Andrew Fritz of In Good Spirits
Fans of Citizen Public House and The Gladly in Phoenix ought to know the name Andrew Fritz. He's the Chief Executive Officer and Partner of In Good Spirits hospitality group, which owns both the Scottsdale restaurant and its sister spot in the Biltmore neighborhood. Prior to joining forces with chef Bernie Kantak to open Citizen Pubic House more than half a decade ago, Fritz spent time at Cowboy Ciao and Sea Saw. Fritz also serves on the board for Devour Phoenix, a citywide coalition of independents restaurants.
Today he shares his definition of hospitality and his most memorable dining experience in Phoenix.
My go-to place for bikes and bike gear in Phoenix is Bicycle Haüs. I want everything in that shop. It’s not fair; they’re selling toys to adults. They have some of the most gorgeous bikes and best cycling gear you can buy. Those guys are a blast to ride with, too. And, they’re whiskey and coffee geeks. What’s not to love?
The best-kept secret in Phoenix is...Going on a beer run? Cellars Fine Wine & Spirits on 32nd Street and Shea Boulevard is a true neighborhood find. They have a huge craft beer selection, a variety of Arizona and cult wines, and great spirits brands for your home bar. Oh, and they have Homeboy’s Hot Sauce there, too. On top of all that, there’s a drive thru so you don’t have to get out of your car on a 100-plus degree day.
Hospitality means personalizing the service encounter. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat at a bar or table and the bartender or server never even attempted to acquire information about me. I’m not looking for special treatment, but if it was me serving, I’d want to learn something about my guest. Everyone in your restaurant is there for a reason. And, everyone has a story to tell. Why not take the time to find out something about this person. What are their likes, dislikes, or prior experiences? What do they do for a living? Ask yourself, “What can you do to make this guest feel special?” Then, armed with this information, show them the love.
My restaurant pet peeve is wobbly tables. I mean, come on man! How do I sit at a table at 8:00 and no one on the service staff noticed it by then? When I go out, am I really the only diner who’s affected by it? Now, my wife carries those rubber wedges wherever we go. We’ll just discreetly slide them under wobbly tables. I should admit, I wish we were immune to the random wobbly table at our restaurants, but I guess you’ve always got to be striving for something.
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My most memorable dining experience was right here locally at Nobuo at Teeter House. It seems like every time I dine there, I have a memorable experience. But, I can’t stop talking about one time in particular. Nobuo is full of knowledge, and he’s unselfish with that knowledge. On this particular occasion, he served us a young chicken from Two Wash Ranch which he explained had been fed Parmagiano Reggiano for two weeks prior to (ahem) slaughter. This chick’s cheese intake alone probably cost more than the price on the menu. The chicken was out of this world — there was this richness to the natural salinity. My dad couldn’t get over the fact that Nobuo had outdone his previous wow moment of serving stress-free tuna sashimi. Nobuo is great at explaining the “starting point” of the food you’re consuming. For me, learning something about what I'm eating takes an experience over the top. Nobuo always delivers!
The 2016 Tastemakers so far:
100. Aaron Chamberlin of St. Francis and Phoenix Public Market Cafe
99. Ross Simon of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
98. Debby Wolvos of DW Photography
97. Anibal and Salem Beyene of Café Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant
96. Bo Mostow of Uptown Farmers Market
95. Julian Wright of Pedal Haus Brewery
94. Stephen Jones of The Larder + The Delta
93. Eric Glomski of Page Spring Cellars
92. Richard Bock of Giuseppe's on 28th
91. Walter Sterling of Ocotillo
90. Daniel Sevilla of Angry Crab Shack
89. Doug Robson of Gallo Blanco and Otro Cafe
88. LaDawn Driscoll of Liberty Market
87. Jason Calhoon of The Shop Beer Co. and Side Kick Cold Brew
86. Tim and Kim Cobb of United Lunchadores Street Gourmet
85. Micah Olson of Bar Crudo and Okra Cookhouse and Cocktails
84. Paola Embry of Christopher's + Crush and The Wrigley Mansion
83. Jared Porter of The Clever Koi
82. Diane Corieri of Evening Entertainment Group
81. Erich Schultz of Steadfast Farm
80. Jeff and Leah Huss of Huss Brewing Company
79. Aaron Pool of Gadzooks Enchiladas and Soup
78. Diana Santospago of The Maine Lobster Lady food truck
77. Gio Osso of Virtu Honest Craft and Nico Heirloom Kitchen
76. Lauren Bailey of Upward Projects
75. Rodney Hu of Arizona Distilling Company and Yucca Tap Room
74. Jacob Cutino of Homeboy's Hot Sauce
73. Country and Sergio Velador of Super Chunk Sweets and Treats
72. Dean Thomas of Cornish Pasty Co.
71. Jennifer Caraway of The Joy Bus
70. Scott Holmes of Little Miss BBQ
69. Jared Allen of Proof Artisan Breads
68. Steve McFate of McFate Brewing Company
67. Mel Mecinas of Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
66. Jessa and Dan Koppenhofer of Gilbert Farmers Market
65. Todd and Kelly Bostock of Dos Cabezas WineWorks
64. Ryan Probst of Odelay Bagel Co.
63. Diana Brandt of AZFoodie
62. Benjamin Butler of Hayden Flour Mills
61. Jim and Maureen Elitzak of Zak's Chocolate
60. Michael Babcock of Welcome Diner and Welcome Chicken + Donuts
59. Nick Ambeliotis of Mediterra Bakehouse
58. Peter Kasperski of Cowboy Ciao and Kazimierz World Wine Bar
57. Kimber Stonehouse of LGO Hospitality
56. David Tyda of EATERAZ and Arizona Taco Festival
55. Pavle Milic of FnB
54. Pat Christofolo of Santa Barbara Catering Company and The Farm at South Mountain
53. Brandon Casey of The Ostrich
52. Jonathan Buford of Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
51. Sasha Raj of 24 Carrots
50. Rob Fullmer of Arizona Craft Brewers Guild
49. Bill and Lillian Buitenhuys of AZ Bitters Lab
48. Ramona Button of Ramona Farms
47. Justin Piazza of La Piazza Al Forno and La Piazza PHX
46. Andrew Gooi of Food Talkies
45. Jason Raducha of Noble Bread and Noble Eatery
44. Ty Largo of Awe Collective
43. Christopher Gross of Christopher's and Crush Lounge
42. Heidi Lee of Into The Soup
41. ET Rivera of Tres Leches Cafe
40. Monika Woolsey of Hip Veggies
39. Bobby Kramer of The Brickyard
38. Jenna Reeves of Press Coffee Roasters
37. Sarah Chisholm of Phoenix Public Market Cafe
36. Bill Kennedy of Futuro
35. Jan Bracamonte of J. Lauren PR & Marketing
34. Erin Romanoff of the uprooted kitchen
33. Baker Mandy Bublitz
32. Tony Chanthavong of Snoh Ice Shavery
31. Donald Hawk of Welcome Chicken + Donuts
30. Krystal Bittner of Arizona Society of Homebrewers
29. Garrison Whiting of Counter Intuitive and Cowboy Ciao
28. Michelle Jacoby and Mark Lipczynski of Bite Magazine
27. Chris Osborn of Western Retail Advisors
26. Yasu Hashino of Yasu Sushi Bistro
25. Jennifer Russo of The Market Restaurant + Bar by Jennifer's
24. Bret Pont of Hobe Meats
23. Josh Hebert of Posh Improvisational Cuisine
22. Tracy Dempsey of Tracy Dempsey Originals