Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether it's a farmers market find, some local love at the grocery store, or a made-here goodie from a neighborhood food festival, there's no shortage of Arizona-grown products to keep our taste buds happy.
No one knows this better than Valley chefs, many of whom have been leading the charge in helping to bring local products to our tables for years.
What are their top three favorite local products at the moment? Get ready to start shopping -- from produce, cheese, bread, meat, adult libations, and other foodstuffs, these of-the-moment local picks might be your next procurement.
Chef Matt Taylor, Market Street Kitchen
Pigs, lamb, and goats from Brad Payne. I've known Brad for years. and it's really cool to see how much he has grown as a purveyor/farmer in the past decade.
Greg LaPrad, Chef and Owner, Overland Trout, Sonoita
Chef Ehren Litzenberger BLD Chandler
Bob McClendon's arugula is amazing. It has the best, most bright peppery flavor. Second is the breakfast sausage from Schreiner's. And lastly, the bacon focaaccia from Bread Crafters. Becky makes the best bread in the East Valley, hands down.
Gio Osso, Chef and Owner, Virtu
Prickly pears would have to be one. They grow all over southern Italy, so they remind me of my childhood and I usually get them from my friend's yard. Local peaches from Schnepf Farms have also been amazing the past couple of years. And lastly, goat cheese! Crows Dairy has been making some really interesting stuff that is creative and flavorful.
Romeo Taus Chef and Owner, Romeo's Euro Cafe
Aaron May Chef and Restaurateur
Chef Gregory Wiener, Top of the Rock
Joe Johnston, Restaurateur
Dos Cabezas El Campo because this complex red wine expresses the terroir of Sonoita in an altogether satisfying way and of national-class craftsmanship; The Pork Shop pepper-cured bacon because it's perhaps the best bacon I've eaten anywhere; and Hayden Flour Mills' Sonoran White Wheat Pancake Mix because it makes the best pancakes ever and supports local farmers of heritage grain.
Guido Saccone, Chef and Partner, Cibo
Rick Phillips, Owner, Bootleggers
Modern Moonshine: It's a cold-pressed coffee made by DJ Fernandes (Tuck Shop, Vovomeena, Astor House). Kaleidoscope cold-pressed juices: I just love that it's a mother daughter team (Andrea and Alexandra Maw) who literally put it all on the line and created a high-end product that's both nutritious and delicious. John's Premium Tonic: Also a relative of Tuck Shop, John Cavanagh created this handmade tonic syrup.
Chef Maurice Gordon, The Westin Phoenix Downtown
Chef Justin Beckett, Chef and Owner, Beckett's Table
Chef Dustin Christofolo, The House at Secret Garden
Eddie Castillo Chef and Co-Owner, AZ Food Crafters
Goat milk feta from Crow's Dairy, so fresh and tasty and their flavored cheeses are yummy as well; spicy pickled mushrooms from Pickled Perfection (once you open a jar it's hard not to conquer the whole thing); and local honey.
Bill Sandweg Owner, Copper Star Coffee
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Christopher Costantino, Chef and Owner, Costantino's Kitchen