Chow Bella's Top Phoenix Food Stories of the Week

Every week, there's a cornucopia of Phoenix food news, features, and reviews to report here at Chow Bella. If you're like most people, you probably just don't have the time to get to all of it. It's kind of like those burgers at Old Town Whiskey; it just won't all fit in your mouth ... or in this case, your day. So, here's a recap of some of the top stories from the week that you may have missed.

Screaming, Expletives, and, Eventually, Police: All in the First Night of Kitchen Nightmares Taping at Amy's Baking Company

Yelpers went nuts last weekend -- and guess who was the topic? Amy Bouzaglo of Amy's Baking Company in Scottsdale, who apparently cooked up a storm on Saturday.

In fact, I reached out to one diner who was at Saturday night's taping of Kitchen Nightmares at Amy's. He got a very real dose of reality television -- more than he bargained for, actually.

Read the full story about the Kitchen Nightmares meltdown.

--Laura Hahnefeld

Robrt Pela's Dreaming of a Moist Christmas

It's the week before Thanksgiving, and I am making eighty dozen Christmas cookies.

Surrounded by metal contraptions that resemble waffle irons, I am cranking out hundreds of flat, round, paper-thin Italian holiday cookies that signal--at least to Italian Americans from northeastern Ohio--that Christmas is nearly here.

I don't eat pizzelles, a traditional Italian cookie I've heard people describe as resembling snowflakes and giant drinks coasters, but I've been making them practically since I was old enough to stand. I've got it down to a science: Plop two spoonfuls of sticky, anise-flavored batter onto the grooved face of the electric pizzelle iron; close iron; open second iron and remove cookies and place on cooling rack; fill second iron with batter; move on to third iron, filling it with batter and closing it, by which time the cookies in the first iron are done and I'm ready to start again.

Read Pela's full Eating Christmas story.

--Robrt L. Pela

Matt and Ernie Poole Have Big Plans for Tiny Space at Original Matt's Big Breakfast

There was always a certain irony in the name Matt's Big Breakfast, given that the original 800-square-foot space at the corner of 1st Street and McKinley was so insanely cramped and tiny. But when owners Matt and Ernie Poole moved the city's most popular breakfast spot a block north to bigger digs (in the former Verde space), regulars were by turns delighted and dejected. Would this mean getting in easily or at least shorter waits? Then yay! "But hey! (said a few of us sentimental fools), we're going to miss the sunshine and sweet simplicity of that first humble incarnation."

No need to fret. The Pooles have a great idea for putting the teeny-tiny original Matt's to good use. And it's practical . . .

--Nikki Buchanan

Aaron May's Praying Monk in Scottsdale Plays Out Like a Punk Rock Show

If a restaurateur could be likened to a music genre, then chef Aaron May is punk rock. The well-known Valley chef and restaurateur does what he wants, the way he wants to, and with zero apologies.

And his newest venture, Praying Monk, in Old Town Scottsdale, plays out like a punk rock show. The scene is a mash-up of industrial and dimly lit DIY. The ever-changing menu of modern American food, like a set list, offers May the ability to add and subtract whenever and however he likes. Some songs (or dishes) are fist-pumpers, while others aren't nearly as good -- and have you heading for the bar. That's a good thing at Praying Monk, since an extensive selection of beer is one of the things it does best.

Read the review of Chef Aaron May's Praying Monk.

--Laura Hahnefeld

OpenTable Announces 100 Best Restaurants in America: Arizona Nabs Four, Chicago Gets Zip (Wait, What?)

Open Table, the online restaurant reservations provider, has released its 2012 Diners Choice Award winners for the Top 100 best restaurants in the United States. And while its thumbs up for four Arizona venues, one of the country's top food cities, Chicago, doesn't get a single restaurant mention.

Whoa, first we were all like, "Yay!" and know we're all like, "Hey . . ."

See who made Open Table's list from Arizona. --Laura Hahnefeld

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Eric Tsetsi
Contact: Eric Tsetsi