Sips & Sweets 2017 is a mere two weeks away (get your tickets here), so in case you aren't excited enough already for June 17, we wanted to introduce you to a few of the badass babes flexing their drink-slinging, pastry-baking, confection-making skills.
Meet Chanel Godwin-McMaken, Bartender at The Henry
I was born and raised in Phoenix; there is no other place I feel more at home than here. From a hometown perspective, I can say that the Valley needs less abandoned buildings and more street art.
I've been in the restaurant industry for eight years. The past five of those years have been with Fox Restaurant Concepts. And I have been bartending for them for three of those years. Making drinks is one of favorite things, along with my dog, and hunting for rad vintage finds.
The most exciting and inspiring new ingredient I discovered this year, was not a single ingredient, but rather a dish. Curry! I was never a fan until recently, and as a new convert, I got inspired to make a drink that emulated all of the flavors one might find in Thai Curry. Lemongrass, ginger, cilantro, lime ... all the goods! But what took the cake was the curried coconut rim.
Chef Stephanie Lopez of Udder Delights
After spending a decade working in the automotive industry, I decided it was time for a change. I started working in a small family owned bakery and fell in love with the fast paced and creative process. So I enrolled in culinary school and made the change official. When I met Casey (owner of Udder Delights & Superstition Farm) I knew I wanted to work with him. Casey is a third generation dairy farmer and I grew up in a small town in the country, so we share the same values where food, family, and business are concerned. I’ve been at Udder for about five years now, and I still love coming to work every day. While on a tour of ice cream shops in LA this past year, I rediscovered my love for honey after having a simple sundae with a really incredible honey. It's not new by any means, but I’ve become a little obsessed with it. I have a great local supplier I work with; he helps me find the right honey for any recipe I come up with. It’ll be featured in my dessert for the event for sure, and is the magic behind my Honey Lavender ice cream.
Meet Rachael Dugan, Bar Manager at DeSoto Central Market
I'm from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and I moved to Phoenix six years ago. I've been in the restaurant business for more than 15 years. Most of my early experience came from a more corporate environment, which is a good place to start because of the built-in structure and process.
I started bartending eight years ago at a small family-owned neighborhood pub: fast-paced but simple stuff. When I moved to Phoenix, I found a bartending job with Firebird's, a high-volume chain steakhouse with a fresh cocktail program. This is when I got my first taste of mixology, using fresh juices and making things from scratch.
From there I landed a job at Lon's at the Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley, where I was honored to work under Travis Nass, a very talented mixologist. Working at Lon's with Travis allowed me the opportunity to sharpen my knowledge and learn so many of the cool techniques that I still use today.
I am now at DeSoto Central Market, and I am continually learning and discovering new things to love every day. Recently, I have gotten pretty excited about ingredients from the Far East, so I've been experimenting with using those ingredients with spirits and flavors from other parts of the world in delicious and unusual ways.
Meet Audrey Enriquez, Pastry Chef at Valley Ho
I've always had a passion for food, but a real love of desserts, so even as a kid in Prescott Valley, I never had a doubt that I wanted to make baking my career. So, less than a month after graduating high school, I enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu’s Patisserie and Baking Program.
After earning my degree, I set out to start gaining hands-on experience, working for a couple of the Valley’s smaller independent restaurants before deciding it was time for a change of scenery and moving to Chicago. There, I spent two years crafting pastries for Nordstrom Café.
The job was great, but I missed Arizona and my family, so I was thrilled to come back home to take on my first hotel residency at the Phoenix Marriott Tempe at the Buttes. After that, I went on to do a two-year stint as the pastry chef for Elements, the signature restaurant at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, before accepting the position of pastry chef at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass, where I really honed my skills, producing desserts for multiple outlets, including Kai. That's where I really developed my sense of style and learned how to execute my vision with a great deal of attention to detail.
After working with Chef Russell LaCasce at Elements, I was eager to work with him again, which is what I get to do now as the new pastry chef for Hotel Valley Ho, where I oversee all pastry production and preparation for ZuZu, the hotel’s signature restaurant, as well as banquet and catering functions.
I'm happiest when I'm developing new dishes for the restaurant, and experimenting with new pastry trends and recipes. For example, I’ve always heard about sea buckthorn berries, but had never actually tried them until recently. I have absolutely fallen in love with them. Recently, I did a dessert featuring a sea buckthorn posset, also making a fluid gel with the berries and adding some fresh ones on top. I paired it with a caramelia cremeux. The acidity of the berries complements chocolate very nicely. Another great find was greengage plums. They are a little difficult to come by, but totally worth it. We ended up pickling them so that we could enjoy them longer, which made them a nice addition to our cheese board.
Meet Lisa Rast, Owner of Nutwhats
I am the creator of Nutwhats, twistedly addictive confections ... they call me Candy Queen. I've re-created just about every confection out there, adding my own little twist to it either to make it a little different, a little healthier, or just better.
My favorite childhood snack was Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, which I still love, but my own version, using our bean-to bar-chocolate and an organic low-sugar peanut butter. I keep experimenting and having fun. This year, I discovered Tiger Nut, a locally grown and locally foraged ingredient that tastes similar to cardamom. I used it to make a limited-edition mendiant using our bean-to-bar chocolate.
Meet Erin McNaught, Pastry Chef at Handlebar Diner
I've been a longtime home baker, but in 2008 I decided to make it official and attend The French Pastry School in Chicago. I always believed Phoenix was rife with opportunities, so I moved back in 2011, working at a number of restaurants in the Valley like The Henry, Southern Rail, and Ocotillo, before landing my dream gig at Handlebar Diner, working beside Chef Adam Allison (coolest dude ever). This year I discovered calamansi juice, a kind of Portuguese orange-lime that lends depth to any citrus dessert. It is great in key lime tarts or added to cocktails; believe me, I've done both.
Meet Lindsey Magee, owner of Ollie Vaughn's Kitchen and Bakery
I'm a resident of the historic Coronado neighborhood in central Phoenix and the owner of Ollie Vaughn's Kitchen and Bakery, a neighborhood cafe that opened in 2014. The shop continues to grow, offering breakfast, lunch, espresso, and a lineup of excellent baked goods including lemon bars, cookies, and croissants. As a kid, I used to eat a Little Debbie oatmeal pie every day after school. I never eat them anymore because compared to the Oatmeal Pies we make with real vanilla buttercream filling, the packaged version tastes so processed. In my opinion, Phoenix is doing a pretty great job at keeping out the chain restaurants and keeping it local! I love this town.
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Meet Dana Whitney, Pastry Chef at The Great Australian Bakery
Dana is so rock and roll that she chose to give us only the basics, letting her pastries speak for themselves:
Name: Dana Whitney
Born: 12/24/1991 in Ft. Defiance, AZ
Graduated: Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute of Scottsdale on 9/15/2015
Favorite Food (to eat): Navajo Tacos
Favorite Food (to make): Creme Brulee
Meet these gals in person on June 17 at Sips & Sweets 2017!