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. Miss a question? Go here.
A few weeks ago, we were alerted to the fact that Macayo's, the locally owned chain of Mexican restaurants in Arizona, had started an advertising campaign and petition drive to make the chimichanga the official state food. That got us to thinking about other edible candidates, so we created a list and took a vote to decide the winners. (Look for the final showdown poll tomorrow.)
What did Valley chefs and restaurateurs have to say about the subject? Here are some of their answers:
Michael Monti Owner, Monti's La Casa Vieja
We've had a long history with ostriches in the state for about 100 years. Originally, their feathers were used as plumage for women's hats when it was common in the fashion world. So let's bring ostrich and serve it up on the table -- or nopalitos, or cactus -- because we have a lot of it. It's really juicy and green bean-y.
Chef Jason Alford Roka Akor
I just asked one of my tables sitting in front of me what they thought. We decided on prickly pear.
Eric Flatt Co-owner, Tonto Bar & Grill and Cartwright's Sonoran Ranch House
The state food should definitely be prickly pear.
Justin Beckett Chef and Owner, Beckett's Table
When we do figure it out, I hope it doesn't include prickly pear.
Josh Hebert Chef and Owner, Posh
The state food should be some kind of taco, but a hybrid taco mixing traditional with modern ingredients.
Meggie Miller Marketing Manager for Twin Peaks
Do the 49ers count? :)
Justin Micatrotto Co-Owner, Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers in Arizona
The first thing that comes to mind is Tex-Mex, but coming from someone who's no stranger to a deep-fryer, we might want to get fried rattlesnake on board.
Chef Christopher Nicosia SASSI
It should have a smoky element to it and would have to be a street food. How about a smoky sausage (hot dog or other type) topped with green chile pork served wrapped in Indian fry bread with roasted corn and cactus relish, jalapeños, and crushed corn tortilla chips? I think I'm going to buy my food truck now.
Chef Michael Stebner True Food
It should be pecans.
Chef Andrew Nam Stingray, Jimmy Woo's Asian Bistro, Spanish Fly, Geisha A Go Go
I would say it is sushi!
Eddie Matney Chef and Owner, Eddie's House
I'd like to see a plate with an Arizona queso dip in the middle and foods from all over the world surrounding it.
Jon Lane Owner, O.H.S.O.
The burrito or the taco.
Robert Morris General Manager and Sommelier, Cork Restaurant
Maybe a chimichanga. I think it originated here.
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Shin Toyoda Sushi master at Sushi Roku
Forget about identifying a food, the hands-down thing we should all be able to agree on is that the signature Arizona beverage is the margarita.