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 knows his stuff.
Tastemaker 51: Stan Zawatski
When Stan Zawatski arrived in Phoenix he was only a boy, but already a deli man through and through. He grew up in his father's New York deli and when they decided to move out west to the Valley, they bought Cheese N' Stuff (then just a cheese store) and transformed it into the type of business they already knew and loved. Since then they've served over a million deli sandwiches and subs, from classics like the Corned Beef and Swiss (a Reuben) to the Manhattan Special, and sandwich piled high with extra thick hot pastrami and cole slaw on a sub roll with Russian dressing.
I arrived in Phoenix with... well, my mom, my dad, my sister, and my dog Rusty in the '66 Delta 88 my dad had -- and here we are!
If I was sitting down to dinner for six, my five dream dining companions would be... Nostradamus, because I've always kind of followed what his little writings were like; Einstein probably; Rachael Ray, because I like the way she does her little cooking thing on TV and she was actually born in N.Y. just a couple of miles north of us. That's the first three that come to mind. Really, that's it. There's not really anyone else coming to mind.
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One place everyone who comes to Phoenix must eat is... besides here, my wife and I when we go out we go to Manuel's because they make Mexican food, but mild stuff. We went to Garcia's a couple times, and you take a bite and I don't know if they think every bite needs to have that hot spice. But at Manuel's if you want it hotter you can.
One menu item the city could do without it... I'm not crazy about those habanero peppers, but I don't know if that's a menu item.
My last meal in Phoenix would be... I've always been a seafood type of person so I'd probably go with -- well, you could probably get seafood any place but I usually like Red Lobster once in a while. So when it comes to the meal, it'd probably be like a nice lobster with crab, some scallops, a nice baked potato and cheese biscuits slopped in butter. I mean, that'd be my last meal . . . or something like that.
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 Follow Chow Bella on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest.