Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Miss a question? Go here.
When Valley chefs size up, shake, and inspect their wrapped holiday gifts this year, what do they hope is inside? We asked and few and got answers ranging from the way out to the tried and true.
Chef Robert McGrath, Market Street Kitchen
Chef Chris Mayo, North Fattoria Italiana
I want to roast a whole duck. I've cooked duck at almost every restaurant I've ever worked at, but we always butcher it first and then serve either the breast or the legs. I want to serve it whole. A goose would be nice, too.
Silvana Salcido Esparza Chef and owner, Barrio Cafe and Barrio Queen
I would kill for a leg of prosciutto or jamón serrano -- is that too much to ask for? I guess while you're at it, a wheel of Parma would be nice, too.
Chef James Fox, Milagro Grill
A Scanomat TopBrewer. It's the most high-tech coffee maker I have ever seen. I think it shows just how much technology has come and will continue to influence the culinary industry over the next 10 years.
Bernie Kantak Chef and Partner, Citizen Public House
Dear Santa, I want a PolyScience Immersion Circulator, a tabletop bone and meat saw, and a G.I. Joe with a sauté grip!
Chef Jacques Qualin, J&G Steakhouse
I would love to travel to Nantucket bay for scallops season. After collecting some, I would combine them with fresh winter truffles and make a scallop tartare.
Justin Beckett, Chef and Owner, Beckett's Table
Le Creuset dutch ovens, lots of cookbooks, backyard kitchen, pizza oven, grill, smoker -- you know, little things like that.
Chef Stephen "Chops" Smith, Searsucker Scottsdale
I always want knives, and I would love a Japanese charcoal barbecue grill with the binchotan charcoal. And what chef wouldn't love a rotary vacuum evaporator?
Josh Hebert, Chef and Owner, Posh
If I'm asking, I may as well shoot for the stars: A rotary evaporator. If I got one I would let some of my friends play with it, too.
Cullen Campbell, Chef and Owner, Crudo
Pie as far as the eye can see -- and my aunt's duck stuffing.
Aaron May, Chef and Restaurateur
I always am on the lookout for antique kitchen gadgets, Japanese knives, and interesting cookbooks. But really, l get excited when I get anything shiny and new.
Shin Toyoda Sushi Master, Sushi Roku
A new sushi knife is always nice and can last for a decades if taken care of properly. I always like preparing fish from around the world, but a nice bottle of wine is always a good idea.
Charles Wiley, Chef and Food and Beverage Director, ZuZu
I would love a microplane. They're great for citrus, which imparts such a wonderful flavor to turkey and vegetable dishes, among other things. I also love to use microplanes for grating Parmesan reggiano for kale salad. I mostly have what I need to cook -- I'm pretty old-school!
Chef Christopher Nicosia, Sassi
I'd like a couple of new knives. I always like getting good olive oil, specialty salts, or a wedge of cheese that I've never tasted.
Chef Shane Cox, True Food Kitchen, Biltmore Fashion Park
I always love getting fresh, seasonal vegetables this time of year from the Valley's farmers markets. A black kale salad will be on my holiday menu this year along with butternut squash and Brussels sprouts. Making dishes with fresh veggies will cost a bit more but you'll make up for it in flavor -- and, it's simply better for you.
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