When it comes to finding love, we at Chow Bella aren't asking for much. All we need is someone to make us sweet pastries in the morning, a three-course candlelit dinner in the evening, and the occasional brunch on Sundays.
Basically, we want to date a chef. Someone who can melt the butter as well as our hearts. Which is why our staff got together to compile a list of the top 10 kitchen catches in Phoenix this Valentine's Day.
We know most of them aren't available. But, hey, we can dream, right?
We like a man with a hand for holding and an eye for business. Which is why former Atlas Bistro Chef Chris McKinley has just become downtown's newest catch thanks to his business partnership with Adam Hargett and their upcoming restaurant The Local on Roosevelt Row. Fine art, fine food, and now a fine man? Looks like First Fridays just got even more enticing.
We'll admit, we've had a crush on Liberty Market's LaDawn Driscoll since her sweet days at The Herb Box. The pastry chef, who rocks colorful hair and tats, is equal parts sugar and spice, plus she admits to being an avid beer drinker and home brewer. Cookies and craft beer? Consider it a date. (No, seriously, LaDawn. Call us.)
Roses are red, Chef Nick's eyes are blue . . . Nick LaRosa of the recently opened Nook in Arcadia is the Connecticut-born, Sicilian-bred boy that would make any Italian mother proud. However, seeing as the man is busy managing a kitchen and a pair of newborn twins, we have a feeling LaRosa has little time for a date night, let alone with the entire staff of Chow Bella. Sigh.
We have a thing for female trailblazers, the type of women who aren't afraid to step out of their comfort zone and refuse to take no for an answer. Which is why we're fascinated with Vogue Bistro's Aurore Beauduy. The globetrotting chef, who credits her cooking origins to Paris, successfully set out to make more from her culinary education than just pastry. By dating Beauduy, we just know we could learn a thing two about cooking, travel, and how to rock a killer braid.
Eddie Hantas of Hummus Xpress is just how we like our men: tall, dark, and handsome with a side of Mediterranean cooking. The Lebanese stud is quick on his feet both in and outside the kitchen, thanks to his jet-set life as a former professional basketball player. Simply put, when it comes to this good-looking, athlete turned chef, we have only one thing to say: Back off, ladies. We saw him first.
We've been admiring Eugenia Theodosopolous since our first bites of chocolate croissant, caramel macaron, and, well, pretty much everything in the display case at Essence Bakery Cafe. The Ohio-born Greek goddess can read us like a cookbook. We know this because she opened a second, larger location in Phoenix last year. If being Theodosopolous' significant other means being the guinea pig for all her latest pastry inventions, you can bet we'd be the first one to throw our hat into the ring.
Creativity is definitely something we look for in a man and in the kitchen. And wouldn't you know it, Jeff Kraus of Crepe Bar has it going for him in spades. The high-energy chef is as much an artist as he is an inventor, giving him a left brain/right brain combination that women look for in a stable man. Throw in the beard, the smile, and the colorful tattoo sleeves and we'd gladly sign up this man to serve us breakfast in bed.
Country Velador is Cowboy Ciao's Pastry Chef and co-owner of Super Chunk Sweets & Treats with her super-cute husband, Sergio. Yes, we realize she's happily married to a great guy, but one bite of her and you might be tempted to write that off as a minor detail, too. Velador makes this list because we have hope that there's an alternate universe out there where Velador is single, the sky rains caramel corn, and duck fat toffee is good for your thighs.
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Gabriel Bertaccini is sexy and he knows it. The well-dressed Italian import knows how to set the mood and work a crowd, especially with his company Il Tocco, which creates memorable private dinning experiences, including the roaming underground dinner party, Culinary Mischief. Between his flair in the kitchen and his flair in everyday life, Bertaccini is serious man candy.
We like a woman with a sense of adventure, hence our infatuation with Hana Japanese Eatery's Lori Hashimoto. The outgoing Phoenix native with Japanese heritage gave up the big bucks in nutriceuticals to share her culinary passion with the Valley, showing us that she can dream big while staying down to earth. Hashimoto is our ideal girl, one who keeps dinner conversation interesting and relationships exciting.