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 man who's not afraid to express his love for Cadillac Ranch's bacon wontons. Nice.
Tastemaker 28: Clint Spotleson
A multi-generational Scottsdale native, Clint Spotleson began his love affair with the culinary arts as a youngster in his family's kitchen. He started working professionally in kitchens at 16 before moving toward the bar, working in many spots before finding his passion for creating cocktails at Jade Bar at Sanctuary Resort. Currently, he is trying to impart cocktail culture to the masses at Mabel's on Main.
I arrived in Phoenix with... a doctor's cold hands on me crying loudly -- just to make sure everyone in the room knew I had arrived!
If I was sitting down to dinner with six, my five dream dinner companions would be... My mother, Debra, would have to be first. She lit the spark on cooking for me and has been a backbone in my life. She's always very supportive in helping me achieve my goals.
Second would be Jerry Thomas, the "Professor", the godfather of cocktails. The first man to put drink recipes in print. He was the epitome of a bon vivant, a true sportsman to the highest degree. Just to pick his mind and understand his process on cocktails would be unbelievable.
Andy Warhol would have to be in the mix. I always had a strong artistic background and have been a fan of his work for years. Also, a dinner party wouldn't be complete without an eccentric artist at the table!
Jacques Cousteau would have to be another guest. When I was young, I had murals of fishtanks painted on my bedroom walls and always had a deep fascination with the underwater world, in all its richness and beauty. I sometimes regret not paying attention in science class because marine biology would have also been a fulfilling career path.
There are so many friends and family members I'd want in the last seat, its almost impossible to choose. I know Jason Asher, my mentor in the cocktail world as well as a longtime friend, would truly appreciate meeting Jerry Thomas, so as a thank you for all he has contributed to my growth I'd have to invite him.
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One place everyone who comes to Phoenix must eat is... Pizzeria Bianco. The food, the smells, the atmosphere -- it's a no-brainer.
One menu item this city could do without is... people wanting a cocktail in a faux copper mug solely because it "looks cool." I have personally coined this epidemic the "Ed Hardy Effect". A Moscow Mule will taste the same -- if made the same -- with or without the mug, people!
My last meal in Phoenix would be... a combination of things, all combined with a cocktail whether it works or not. First, would be this amazing cocktail Micah Olson of Bar Crudo made me with Genever and tea that was so good I forgot everything else in it and instead focused on how mind blowing it was, paired with bacon wontons from Cadillac Ranch. It might be in a mall, but those would be awesome on any menu. Main would be a rare prime rib from Rokerij paired with ANY tiki drink Tyson Buhler from Blue Hound feels like making -- he's never done me wrong. Dessert would have to be Beckett's Table's Bacon S'mores with one of Richie Moe's infamous Fernet Branca milkshakes from Citizen R+D. Life would be complete after that meal.
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 Follow Chow Bella on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest.