From now 'til we publish the 2012 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times and Chow Bella present 100 Tastemakers -- Valley residents who make the cut in our culinary scene. Some you'll know; for others, it'll be a first introduction (but likely not the last). While you're here, check out our 100 Creatives on Jackalope Ranch.
Today: A guy who creates a little mischief every once in a while.
Tastemaker 23: Gabriele Bertaccini
Born in Florence, Italy, and inspired by his family's love for food and his native land, Gabriele Bertaccini discovered his passion for cooking as a young boy. He attended a five-year program at the prestigious Instituto Professionale Buontalenti per Servizi Alberghieri in Florence, where he graduated with a specialty in regional Italian cuisine and specialized in Tuscan cooking. Bertaccini currently lives between Los Angeles and Phoenix, where he is executive chef and founder of iL TOCCO, a private dining-experiences company focused on creating and providing personalized culinary events, and organizes and directs the award-winning CULINARY MISCHiEF, Arizona's first invitation-only underground roving event.
I arrived in Phoenix with... a Pecorino cheese wheel in my suitcase. Jokes aside (and, no, it wasn't a joke...), I arrived in sunny Arizona six years ago with a dream of exporting the Italian 'Dolce Vita' to Phoenix and re-introducing the importance food has in our lives when it comes to create memories and experiencing life fully. I am glad I did.
If I was sitting down to dinner for six, my five dream dining companions would be... my five dream dining companions? Two of them are already dead: Dante Alighieri (do I need any introduction here?!) and Pellegrino Artusi, the first author who established a truly Italian cuisine in 1891 with his famous Italian cookbook The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well. However, I might still have a chance with Roberto Benigni, Academy Award-winning Italian actor and fellow Florentine, Dario Cecchini, a friend and butcher at 'Antica Macelleria Cecchini' in Chianti, and Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement.
One place everyone who comes to Phoenix must eat is... one? Can we at least do a couple? Without any doubt, Barrio Cafe by friend and talented Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza. Her cuisine is truly the essence of modern Mexican cookery. But I can't leave out FnB, where the Pavle/Charleen duo makes every evening unforgettable. Oh, and I don't want to forget Andreoli by my 'amico' Giovanni!
One menu item this city could do without is... bruschetta.
My last meal in Phoenix would be... at my house, with lots of friends and countless bottles of Sangiovese. Cin Cin my friends.
The Tastemakers so far: 100: Tracy Dempsey 99: Craig DeMarco 98: Lara Mulchay 97: M.J. Coe 96: Betty Alatorre de Hong 95: Eric Schaefer 94: Hanna Gabrielsson 93: Shinji Kurita 92: Silvana Salcido Esparza 91: Mike Pitt 90: Christina Barrueta 89: Christopher Gross 88: Jan Wichayanuparp and Helen Yung 87: DJ Fernandes 86: Cullen Campbell 85: Chris Lee 84. Gwen Ashley Walters 83: Tony Morales 82: Lylah Ledner 81: Andrea White 80: Lori Hashimoto 79. Mrs. White 78: Eugenia Theodosopolous 77: Lou & Lovey Borenstein 76: Anthony Patafio 75: Carl Seacat 74: Sacha Levine 73: Sharon Salomon 72: Johnny Chu 71: Susie Timm 70: Jason Silberschlag 69: Gina Miller 68: Cindy Gentry 67: Amy Binkley 66: Dave Anderson 65: Mark Tarbell 64: Marianne Belardi 63: Audrey Lasalle 62: Brandon Gauthier 61: Brad and Kat Moore 60: Denise Clayton 59: Nobuo Fukuda 58: Richie Moe 57: Robin Trick 56: Alberto Della Casa and Letizia de Lucia 55: Farah Khalid 54: Dave Andrea 53: Vincent Guerithault 52: Danielle Leoni 51: Stan Zawatski 50: Maya Dailey 49: Duc Liao 48: Lisa Reinhardt 47: Isam Saed 46: Greg Peterson 45: Marco Bianco 44: Mark Fratu 43: Wendell Crow 42. Barb Harris 41: Michael Perry 40: Jeff Kraus 39: Ryan Avery 38: Charleen Badman 37: Damon Brasch 36: Dwayne Allen 35: Jason Asher 34: Pamela Hamilton 33: Victoria Chavez 32: Giovanni Scorzo 31: Tim Wilson 30: Travis Nass 29: Jason Alford 28: Clint Spotleson 27: Daniel Wayne 26: Korina Adkins 25: Carla Wade Logan 24: Jeff Zimmerman