Chow Bella

Norman Fierros Is in Phoenix and He's Making Tamales!

If you're an avowed foodie who's lived in Phoenix at least 12 years, you surely know or have heard of Norman Fierros. He started a little cafeteria-style restaurant in downtown Phoenix in the 80's called Fina Cocina, a media darling also beloved by local movers and shakes who showed up every day for his hand-made tamales, campechana, signature green chile mash (a mashed potato-stuffed poblano, ladled with green chile) and mini chocolate chimi dessert.

See also: -- El Chiltepin: Offbeat Mexican Food Mixed with Traditional Favorites

Financial problems, including a run-in with the Arizona Department of Revenue, forced Fierros to close his last Phoenix restaurant -- Norman's Arizona -- in 2001, when he left the state and returned to Los Angeles, where he'd worked as a hairdresser in a former life. But Fierros is back in Phoenix for the holidays and he's planning to sell tamales for Christmas. Here's what you need to know.

Starting out, Fierros will be making green corn tamales with help from his niece Gina Fierros. The price is $30 per dozen. In the weeks to come, he'll also start making traditional red chile tamales for Christmas. Call 602-330-3033 to place an order.

Fierros, who's visiting family, probably won't be here long -- maybe through Christmas. Until a foot injury forced him to quit working, he was the chef at a restaurant called Pan Am in the Santa Monica Airport. The name not only referenced the airlines but also the pan-Latin food Fierros was making there. People in LA had begun to take notice. He's a super-creative guy who pioneered the Modern Mexican movement. Some of us really miss him.