Kantak Leaving Cowboy Ciao, Dempsey Opening Own Spot

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Big changes are happening on Stetson Drive.

According to Mari Markogianis of Spaghetti Western Productions -- the umbrella for Old Town Scottsdale faves Cowboy Ciao, Sea Saw, Kazimierz, and Digestif -- Cowboy Ciao chef Bernie Kantak is leaving the restaurant sometime in the next two or three months to "spearhead a new restaurant project in Phoenix."

Kantak himself tells me that "there's a very good possibility" of that happening, and confirmed that his still-in-the-works project would be in Phoenix. For now, he's keeping quiet on the specifics.

Kantak has been in charge of the kitchen at Cowboy Ciao for 11 years, since Markogianis, the founding chef, stepped aside to take on other responsibilities. Kantak's replacement has not been determined, although Markogianis says, "We've got possibilities."

In addition, pastry chef Tracy Dempsey and her husband will be opening their own dessert spot (name to be announced) in Scottsdale's Marshall Way arts district, says Markogianis. The concept will be along the lines of Confection, the place she was planning to open with Spaghetti Western before the economy tanked and the project was shelved.

However, Dempsey is not leaving the Spaghetti Western family. She will continue with her current duties in addition to launching her new project. Busy gal!

These changes are in the wake of Digestif GM Pavle Milic's departure for Prado; his last day at Digestif was Wednesday. Markogianis and Spaghetti Western founder Peter Kasperski will be stepping in to keep up the gracious hospitality that Milic became known for. 


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