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.
43. Christopher Gross of Christopher's and Crush Lounge
There are few chefs in metro Phoenix who can lay claim to as many awards as Christopher Gross. In 1995, he earned the prestigious James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest and earlier this year received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame. In between, he's been recognized by everyone from Wine Spectator and Gayot.com to Esquire magazine and Open Table, and his Biltmore-area restaurant, Christopher's and Crush Lounge, was named Best New Restaurant by William Rice of the Chicago Tribune.
During his culinary career, Gross has rubbed elbows with some of the biggest names in the world of food. He's made dinner for Martha Stewart, cooked in his personal kitchen with Julia Child, appeared on panels with Jacques Pepin, and cooked for Presidents Ford, Reagan, and Bush, Vice President Al Gore, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
All of which is to say, he's a pretty big deal, and one of the most influential chefs in town. He's also founder of the Arizona chapter of the American Institute of Wine and Food and has served on the National Advisory Boards for the James Beard Foundation and the Art Institute of Phoenix. He's also one of the most down-to-earth people we know.
Today, Gross dishes on the craziest thing he's ever seen in the kitchen and the best advice he's ever received.
My go-to place for something different than what I do in Phoenix is Los Dos Molinos.
The best-kept secret in Phoenix is Shady’s.
The craziest thing I’ve ever seen in a kitchen was a fellow cook in France throwing lighter fluid and a match into the Turkish toilet stall of one of the other cooks. Imagine a path of lighter fluid right between his legs and a loud scream after ... I’m just glad it wasn’t me!
The best advice I’ve ever received was from a pastry chef in France and it was to work at the best places possible, learn everything I could, and then do it better ... Needless to say, I listened.
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The most underrated chef in metro Phoenix is Matt Carter. He is far from underrated, but I think he is an outstanding chef who will continue to amaze us.
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 Shares His Go-To Place For Beer That Tastes "Like Arizona"
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