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Chris Bianco Back in the Kitchen (and Loving It) at Pizzeria Bianco and Pane Bianco

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Last week, the Valley food universe nearly cracked its cosmos when Valley pizza legend Chris Bianco was spotted in the kitchen at Pizzeria Bianco in the Town & Country Shopping Center.

Turns out the James Beard Award winner and Arizona's most famous pizzaiolo is indeed back and doing what he loves most, churning out his primo pies at both Phoenix locations of Pizzeria Bianco as well as Pane Bianco. He couldn't be happier.

"This is not a Bianco-returns story," he tells me, "just life moving forward and I'm grateful. Most of all, I missed the people and connecting with people through food -- it's all I know."

See also: Best Gourmet Pizza 2013 - Trattoria Bianco

Bianco goes on to say that he didn't want to make a big deal of being back in the kitchen just as he didn't want to make a big deal of being out of it when his health (Bianco has asthma) forced him to stay away from his restaurants' wood-fired ovens. But thanks to a new medication called Xolair, which helps Bianco battle his allergy-induced asthma brought on by inhaling fine particles of flour used in making bread and pizza (as well as other life changes such as working less hours and learning to delegate), Bianco is able to get back to doing what he loves -- with balance.

"Long story short, I'm happy to have the opportunity to do what I love," Bianco says, "and effect it from the place I'm most comfortable."

Pizzeria Bianco in the Town & Country Shopping Center is now open on Sundays from noon until 8 p.m. The Tucson location of Pizzeria Bianco (near Congress Street and Fifth Avenue) is slated to open in November.

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