Top Five 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. So, here's a recap of some of the top stories from the week that you may have missed.

Charleen Badman: On Lori Hashimoto, Chris Bianco's Mom, and the Kitchen Phrase That Gets Under Her Skin

Charleen Badman is a classic bundle of contradictions. At first blush (and she'd be the one blushing), her blue eyes and open expression suggest the wholesomeness of a farm girl, an impression her quiet demeanor only fosters. Then you notice the tatts and the blond hair tinted an alarming shade of orange. But wait, what? The tattoos -- one of a leek and another of Ganesha, the Hindu god of knowledge, wisdom, and wealth -- seem more like thoughtful talismans than showy arm art. Is she spiritual, this aproned earth mother who speaks softly but with a shockingly sardonic tone? As a darling of the media world -- beloved locally and noticed by national publications such as Food & Wine -- you'd think she'd enjoy basking in the attention that comes with the accolades, but she keeps her head down and works her station, leaving the schmoozing to her partner, Pavle Milic. Badman scoffs at the term "celebrity chef." In fact, she scoffs at the term "chef," rejecting the glamorized BS that so often comes with her job these days.

Read the complete Chef Salad with FnB's Charleen Badman.

--Nikki Buchanan

Old Dixie's in the Welcome Diner: The Coolest Place You (Probably) Haven't Been to Yet

If you're Old Dixie's, owned and operated by Michael Babcock and Jenn Robinson, you keep on making the same killer Southern eats but in a retro-cool, 200-square-foot Depression-era diner in Central Phoenix.

The menu is mostly the same as it was on the truck: Southern-style sandwiches and sides made with locally sourced ingredients. There is dinner, a weekend brunch, and, because of its diner home, there are burgers, too -- one even topped with peanut butter -- but they are not why you've come here.

Read the full first taste of Old Dixie's to find out what we loved.

--Laura Hahnefeld

Celebrity Chef Charity Dinner at Praying Monk in Scottsdale on March 10

Under normal circumstances, we'd have to log quite a few miles in order to enjoy plates created by Aaron May, Christopher Gross, Matt Carter, and Josh Herbert in one night. And that's assuming we'd be able to stuff ourselves with that much food.

It won't be a problem, however, on March 10 when the Phoenix culinary stars will align for a night of wining and dining -- and for a good cause.

Oh, and Vikings fans, they've got a celebrity sports host whom you might want to see.

Check out the complete story.

--Lauren Saria

Gallo Blanco's Doug Robson Opens New Mexican Restaurant in Phoenix

For four years, Doug Robson, chef-owner of Gallo Blanco Café, the restaurant inside the Clarendon Hotel, has been quietly kicking out top-notch Mexico City-style eats in Central Phoenix. But his new restaurant, now open for lunch with dinner to follow on Monday, March 11, most likely won't enjoy such an easygoing scene -- it's smack dab in one of the Valley's hottest new dining hubs.

Called Otro, Robson's new restaurant is located at 6035 North Seventh Street, (Seventh Street and Bethany Home Road) in north Central Phoenix. One of Robson's new neighbors will be restaurateur and James Beard Award semifinalist Sam Fox, who recently opened the Yard, home of a Culinary Dropout and a coming-soon seafood shop, in February.

Here's what diners can expect.

--Laura Hahnefeld

Distrito Gets Neutered: From Colorful and Lively to Brown and Boring, This Makeover Ain't Makin' Sense

Two weeks ago, Old Town Whiskey, Jose Garces' upscale saloon inside The Saguaro hotel in Old Town, shuttered to be used as event space. But unbeknownst to Garces' fans, his modern Mexican restaurant just down the hall was undergoing an arguably worse fate: getting its cojones cut off.

In what appears to be more or less a reverse makeover, Distrito has gone from colorful and lively to brown and boring. But, hey, at least there's the barbacoa. Nope, that's gone, too.

--Laura Hahnefeld

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Eric Tsetsi
Contact: Eric Tsetsi