100 Tastemakers in Phoenix

Heidi Lee of Into The Soup on Food Trends, French Onion Dip, and Chou's Kitchen

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.

42. Heidi Lee of
Into The Soup

Tune in to KWSS 93.9 any Saturday at noon, and you can count on hearing Heidi Lee chatting it up with metro Phoenix chefs, bartenders, and other members of the local food scene. As a professional chef and radio host, Lee believes in supporting the culinary arts so "dining doesn’t go the way of Walmart," which is why she seeks out the men and women who make up the Valley culinary industry and shines some light on who they are and what they do. 

“I really do love meeting new people and giving them the opportunity to tell their story," Lee says. "Sometimes my guests surprise themselves during our little share sessions; but it’s always great fun and we’ve made lots of new friends.”

Lee is a trained chef, and worked in the industry for nearly 20 years before taking her talents behind the microphone. You never know what she'll get guests to spill about on her hour-long show, and today she dishes on food trends and her culinary guilty pleasure. 

My go-to place for a sandwich in Phoenix is Romanelli's Italian Deli! Not only does the name rhyme, but their sandwiches are da’ bomb! The first time I walked in this joint, I was immediately tossed back to Tuscany with its amazing array of charcuterie, novelty products, baked goods, imported wines, and the adorable Italian grandpa at the checkout counter!

The best kept secret in Phoenix is Chou's Kitchen in Chandler! I was searching far and wide for "good" xiao long bao, and found it (and so much more) here. They just opened a new spot in Tempe, so I can get my fix more often.

If I could have dinner with five people, I'd invite Captain Crunch and The Cereal Killers. This was the team name for my classmates from culinary school at Arizona Culinary Institute! After nearly 20 years in the biz, I went back to school last summer and had the most amazing experience. What a life changer! Cheers to Shi, Ty, Angel, X, and Tucson. Oh, and Chef Macc!

I predict the next big food trend will be … I don’t like trends!!! You could trend a fricking potato if you get enough push behind it! Speaking of which, I just Googled it and sure enough, potatoes were trending in 2014. Ugh!!

My culinary guilty pleasure is Ruffles potato chips and Lay's French onion dip, and wait for it ... peanut M&Ms. Sweet, salty and savory! Maybe they should trend that!

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
43. Christopher Gross of Christopher's and Crush Lounge

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria