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 first person we'd ask if we were looking for a fried chicken recommendation.
Tastemaker 73: Sharon Salomon
Sharon Salomon is a registered dietitian, freelance writer, graduate of La Varenne Cooking School, power-lifter and, in her own words, a "dedicated eater." You can follow her life as a "serial dieter" at her blog, Dieting Dietician, and keep up with her on Twitter as @eatingagain.
I arrived in Phoenix... 35 years ago with a thick New York accent and a huge New York attitude, one very crazy cat, no car, no place to live, two kids, and a husband. And look at me now. No more accent. Attitude is gone. I own a car and a house. Same husband. Kids are grown and on their own in L.A. Dogs have replaced the crazy cat.
If I was sitting down to dinner for six, my five dream dining companions would be... the people I have always loved eating with: My husband, who is the most agreeable eater I know. He will accompany me to just about any restaurant without complaining, will order what I ask him to, and then exchange his dinner for mine if I'm not happy with mine. How agreeable is that? My daughters, because they make any meal enjoyable regardless of the location or the quality of the food. And two of my idols, Billie Jean King and Bella Abzug. King because of all her firsts and Abzug because she had smarts to go along with her chutzpah.
One place everyone who comes to Phoenix must eat is... Barrio Café -- to help me make a living. (Disclaimer: I'm one of the investors in Barrio.)
One menu item this city could do without is... I want to say cheese because I don't eat cheese (not true, of course, since I eat pizza -- but only if it's made with mozzarella and only if it's not overly cheesy, and then, of course, I also do eat feta) ,but that would not be fair to the rest of the world since everyone else loves cheese. But I'd really appreciate it if there were some dishes on menus that were cheeseless. I try to avoid high-maintenance ordering, but sometimes there's not much for me to order because cheese is everywhere.
My last meal in Phoenix (I'm hoping you don't mean my "last" meal but just the last meal I'd eat here) would be... a long one starting with this great calamari salad I had at Rancho Pinot Grill years ago. I'm not even sure if it's still on the menu but I know that Chrysa would make it for me if it were truly my last meal here. It was lemony and the calamari was perfectly cooked. From there, I'd stop at Wahsun for some chow fun with black bean sauce. Heavenly. Then on to Barrio for chicken with mole and a whole heap of corn tortillas to sop up the sauce. I'd probably grab a spoonful of cajeta on the way out just to keep me from getting too hungry on the long drive to Scottsdale to FnB, where Charleen [Badman] could make me some of that spicy broccoli that she knows I adore. A girl's gotta have her veggies, after all. Since Lo-Lo's is not too far away, I'd have to stop for three fried wings, drizzled with a little hot sauce. I might be getting full by then, but I'd have time to digest a little on the drive to Hana Japanese Eatery, where I'd probably have tuna tataki and whatever else Lori [Hashimoto] and her brother whip up for me (something with lobster, I'm hoping), served to me by my favorite waitress in town, Wendy. Truth is, I'm not much of a dessert eater, but I do like my ice cream so back in the car for a trip to Sweet Republic for a hot fudge sundae, hold the whipped cream. I'm watching my weight, after all.
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