Carol Steele is a legend in the Phoenix food scene. Between the mid-70s and early 90s, Steele launched the local farm to table movement and has been the veritable "godmother" of local chefs and restauranteurs ever since.
Steele left the Valley two decades ago to take up residence at her 300-acre farm near Aravaipa Canyon, but she left behind an indelible presence.
Here's an excerpt from Amy Silverman's feature story in this week's print edition:
As her former employee Chrysa Robertson puts it, Steele arrived "post-Julia Child, pre-Martha Stewart." She came of age, culinarily speaking, in a time of gourmet cheese and caviar. A time of excess, Robertson observes, that's given way to the local- and slow-food movements under way at restaurants like Robertson's own Rancho Pinot in Scottsdale. Another Steele fan, Chris Bianco, is perhaps the best-known chef in Phoenix these days. He calls Steele "an incredibly wise woman" and "a fucking great pioneer."
Now, Steele is heading off on a new road. At 75, she is ready to retire and to hand over the keys to Aravaipa Farms, which was recently put up for sale.
There will be a benefit dinner for Steele on Sunday, September 23, at Chrysa Robertson's restaurant, Rancho Pinot in Scottsdale. Stay tuned to Chow Bella for more details.
... And check out the video of our visit to Aravaipa Farms.