18: Sam Fox

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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: The Ubiquitous Mr. Fox.

Tastemaker 18: Sam Fox

See also: Sam Fox's New Culinary Dropout Will Feature an Outdoor Park, Oyster Bar and More See also: Silvana Salcido Esparza, Kevin Binkley, Sam Fox, Vincent on Camelback, and ShinBay Announced as Semifinalists for 2012 James Beard Awards

There are local restaurants and there are corporate restaurants, and then there are Fox restaurants. Tucson native Sam Fox has come a long way since 1998; his eating empire now spans more than a half dozen states and covers a diversity of cuisines from upscale Italian to tacos and tequila. Hate them or love them, chances are you've eaten at one of his twelve "concepts" - and no matter what you think about his arsenal of eateries, we have to give credit to a company that's not only survived the recession, but thrived straight through it. We tip our hats to Fox, a 2012 James Beard Foundation Outstanding Restaurateur Semi-Finalist and his Scottsdale-based company.

I arrived in Phoenix with... the punk-attitude of a 30-year-old "know-it-all."

If I was sitting down to dinner for six, my five dream dining companions would be... John Goodman as "Walter Sobchak" from The Big Lebowski. Bono, enough said. Every food critic in Phoenix, so we can chat about how great food should taste. My wife, Emily, because no dream of mine is complete without her. And my dad, who I lost earlier this year, to laugh with me all night.

One place everyone who comes to Phoenix must eat is... True Food Kitchen. This restaurant takes popular trends in cuisine and pairs them with healthy living. Eating and drinking even one thing on the menu will make you live exponentially longer.

One menu item this city could do without is... hot dogs on the roller from Circle K.

My last meal in Phoenix would be... half-a-day long as I toured several restaurants each serving a part of my last Phoenix meal including, Appetizer: Pretzel bites and cheese fondue from Culinary Dropout Salad: Seasonal Vegetable salad from NORTH Fattoria Italiana Entrée: Rib Eye Cap at Modern Steakhouse Dessert: Cookies and Cream Milkshake from Zinburger

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 23: Gabriele Bertaccini 22: Claudio Urciuoli 21: Peter DeRuvo 20: Natalie Morris 19: Eliot Wexler

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