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.
There might not be a cooler culinary gift during the summer than ice cream.
From classic flavors like vanilla and chocolate to more creative offerings like avocado and sweet corn, everyone has a favorite.
What kinds of ice cream do Valley chefs and restaurateurs most enjoy chilling out with? I asked a few of them and this is what they had to say.
Chef Matt Taylor, Market Street Kitchen
Sea salt and caramel. A tub of that with a bottle of champagne is a dark secret of mine. The sweet and saltiness, paired with some refreshing effervescence, makes an outstanding summertime treat.
Chef Gregory Wiener, Top of the Rock
There is a Kroger brand ice cream called Fried Ice Cream. I add peanut butter filled pretzels and caramel sauce to it. It's a guilty pleasure I enjoy while watching movies at home.
Chef Ehren Litzenberger BLD Chandler
Bluebell Butter Crunch. It has chunks of Butterfingers in it. What more do I need to say?
Chef Maurice Gordon, The Westin Phoenix Downtown
Butter pecan with Heath Toffee. I'm from the South, so it's just one of those things that I can't live without -- kind of like sweet tea. It's something I grew up eating, and something about the delicious butter pecan always reminds me of home.
Greg LaPrad, Chef and Owner, Overland Trout, Sonoita
Unquestionably, vanilla. Especially freshly churned and homemade.
Aaron Eckburg, Owner, Go Lb. Salt
I'm still stuck on Sweet Republic's Honey & Blue Cheese. The balance of sweet, salty, and savory in this ice cream conceptually embodies and delivers what I really like to see in a dessert.
Rick Phillips, Owner, Bootleggers
I have honestly never tasted an ice cream better and fresher than that damn mint chip of Sweet Republic's.
Chef Philip Occhipinti, Queen Creek Olive Mill's Trattoria, Biltmore Fashion Park
Ben & Jerry's Wavy Gravy (which is no longer made). I loved the combination of toffee ice cream, fudge swirl, and chopped Brazilian nuts. Ben & Jerry's ice creams are the best novelty ice cream out there.
Chef Justin Beckett, Chef and Owner, Beckett's Table
I'm not sure I dislike many ice cream flavors, but I would have to say that there used to be a Haagen-Dazs flavor that a chef friend of mine created called Toasted Coconut Sesame Brittle that was exceptionally awesome.
Brian Blanke, Assistant GM, Taggia at FireSky Resort & Spa
Chocolate chip cookie dough because it goes so well with a brownie and Sander's Milk Chocolate topping.
Christopher Costantino Chef and Owner, Costantino's Kitchen
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Many flavors have come and gone, but nothing can beat Pralines and Cream from Baskin-Robbins.
Christopher Gross Chef and Owner, Christopher's Restaurant & Crush Lounge
Fresh puree of lucama with white truffles, foie gras, toasted hazelnuts, and chopped figs marinated in Armagnac. Just kidding -- chocolate.