Chow Bella

100 People Who Are Shaking Up the Metro Phoenix Food Scene in 2016

  • 100: Aaron Chamberlin of St. Francis and Phoenix Public Market Cafe:
"My favorite growing season in Phoenix is the fall/winter months because of the abundance in flavorful and nutritious leafy greens."
  • 99. Ross Simon of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour: 
"You'll never find branded bar mats facing away from the guest behind my bar, but I can't work without sexy ice."
  • 98. Debby Wolvos of DW Photography:
She got her start when her father gave her a Kodak Instamatic camera for her 10th birthday — for which she's still grateful — and has been shooting ever since.
  • 97. Anibal and Salem Beyene of Café Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant:
"You'll never find processed meat in our kitchen, but we can't cook without onion."
  • 96. Bo Mostow of Uptown Farmers Market:
Her mother and grandmother kept a garden, churned butter, canned everything in sight, and made their own bread and scones.
  • 95. Julian Wright of Pedal Haus Brewery:
As a self-described "hands-on owner," Wright's often heavily involved in conceptualizing, designing, and running his businesses.
  • 94. Stephen Jones of The Larder + The Delta:
Jones rocketed himself to the forefront of the local dining scene with inventive New American cuisine inspired by the South.
  • 93. Eric Glomski of Page Spring Cellars:
"Arizona wine is going to take over the world because no one sees us coming, and we are actually producing classy, cool-climate wines."
  • 92. Richard Bock of Giuseppe's on 28th:
Music isn't just a part of Bock's impressive past, it's also the reason he fell in love with Italian food and culture.
  • 91. Walter Sterling of Ocotillo: "The best-kept secret in Phoenix is Baiz Market."
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  • 90. Daniel Sevilla of Angry Crab Shack:
When he's not hobnobbing at one of his five restaurants, you can usually find him lake fishing with his brothers and enjoying the Arizona outdoors.
  • 89. Doug Robson of Gallo Blanco and Otro Cafe:
Born and raised just outside of Mexico City, this chef was steeped in Mexican culinary tradition from the get-go.
  • 88. LaDawn Driscoll of Liberty Market:
"I love finding things I've never heard of and figuring out how to use them in desserts."
  • 87. Jason Calhoon of The Shop Beer Co. and Side Kick Cold Brew:
"I'm currently obsessed with 'the experience' ... for me that's what it's all about — quality and execution."
  • 86.  Tim and Kim Cobb of United Lunchadores Street Gourmet:
"You'll never find a garlic press, mango pitter, or avocado scooper in our kitchen, but we can't cook without salt, salt, and more salt."
  • 85. Micah Olson of Bar Crudo and Okra Cookhouse and Cocktails:
Crudo and Bar Crudo have become dining and drinking staples for residents of the Arcadia neighborhood — and worth-the-drive destinations for everyone else.
  • 84. Paola Embry of Christopher's + Crush and The Wrigley Mansion:
"The worst trend in wine was fruit wines and low-calorie wine. Wine is just right the way it is."
  • 83. Jared Porter of The Clever Koi:
"My personal mantra is 'Only in the dictionary does success come before work.'"
  • 82. Diane Corieri of Evening Entertainment Group:
"When I wake up, my first question is what am I going to accomplish today and will it make a difference."
  • 81. Erich Schultz of Steadfast Farm at Agritopia:
"You'll never find Roundup on my farm, but I can't work without my Opinel pocket knife."
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  • 80. Jeff and Leah Huss of Huss Brewing Company:
"Phoenix could use more places serving Arizona craft beer."
  • 79. Aaron Pool of Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup:
Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup started as a crazy idea with an even crazier-sounding name, and has since grown into a popular central Phoenix destination for customizable enchiladas cooked to order.
  • 78. Diana Santospago of The Maine Lobster Lady food truck:
"Phoenix could use more made-from-scratch-with-love food and less franchise and fast food."
  • 77. Gio Osso of Virtu Honest Craft and Nico Heirloom Kitchen:
"My favorite thing to eat as a child was chocolate, and today I like, more like LOVE, chocolate."
  • 76. Lauren Bailey of Upward Projects:
Before becoming a successful restaurant mogul, Bailey was raised in Indiana and spent time living in cities up and down the East Coast.
  • 75. Rodney Hu of Arizona Distilling Company and Yucca Tap Room:
"My go-to drink is a Tom Collins with Commerce Gin, of course, or a nice glass of red wine."
  • 74. Jacob Cutino of Homeboy's Hot Sauce:
Cutino says he continues to be inspired by and grateful for the local culinary community.
  • 73. Country and Sergio Velador of Super Chunk Sweets and Treats:
"The hardest thing about working with your spouse is figuring out what's for dinner."
  • 72. Dean Thomas of Cornish Pasty Co.:
"Three things I miss about England are family, British humor, and proper cider."
  • 71. Jennifer Caraway of The Joy Bus:
After watching a good friend fight cancer, Valley entrepreneur Jennifer Caraway decided she wanted to help cancer patients.
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  • 70. Scott Holmes of Little Miss BBQ:
"The best-kept secret in Phoenix is how quick it is to escape to a place much cooler or away from a lot of people."
  • 69. Jared Allen of Proof Artisan Breads:
"My favorite childhood dessert was my Mom’s homemade cream puffs."
  • 68. Steve McFate of McFate Brewing Company:
"The first beer I ever tried was Lowenbrau. My, how things have changed!"
  • 67. Mel Mecinas of Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North:
"The best lesson I learned from cooking with my parents was learning the basic fundamentals to become a chef: work ethic, dedication, and passion."
  • 66. Jessa and Dan Koppenhofer of Gilbert Farmers Market:
"Our 2-year-old eats scrambled eggs almost every morning and he knows the difference between store-bought and local pastured eggs."
  • 65. Todd and Kelly Bostock of Dos Cabezas WineWorks:
"The best Sonoita wines are as good as the best wines from anywhere else in the world."
  • 64. Ryan Probst of Odelay Bagel Co.:
Before Ryan Probst started his career as a professional baker, he made a name for himself in the local music scene.
  • 63. Diana Brandt of AZFoodie:
"My go-to place for Vietnamese in Phoenix is Banh Mi Bistro; I can't get enough of that noodle bowl."
  • 62. Benjamin Butler of Hayden Flour Mills:
In his free time, Butler enjoys fly-fishing, trail running, and backpacking adventures.
  • 61. Jim and Maureen Elitzak of Zak's Chocolate:
"There are many varieties of cocoa beans and, like wine and coffee, they have complex and interesting natural flavors, which are also a result of terroir."
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  • 60. Michael Babcock of Welcome Diner and Welcome Chicken + Donuts:
"If I opened a new restaurant tomorrow, I'd name it after my grandmother Sonja and I'd serve simple, old-school Japanese comfort food."
  • 59. Nick Ambeliotis of Mediterra Bakehouse:
Ambeliotis' bread story begins when a trusted friend and religious adviser propelled him to take a leap of faith and pursue his dream of baking artisan bread.
  • 58. Peter Kasperski of Cowboy Ciao and Kazimierz World Wine Bar:
"My go-to place for a thought-provoking dining experience in Phoenix is Nobuo at Teeter House."
  • 57. Kimber Stonehouse of LGO Hospitality:
"What I’ve learned over the years is that good wine makers make good wine even in the rough vintages."
  • 56. David Tyda of EATERAZ and Arizona Taco Festival:
"Tacos are the world’s most adapted and adaptable food item. That should be celebrated."
  • 55. Pavle Milic of FnB:
During his time working in California, including at Restaurant Budo in Napa Valley, Milic learned to embrace the relationships between food and wine, and farmers and winemakers.
  • 54. Pat Christofolo of Santa Barbara Catering Company and The Farm at South Mountain:
"It’s time that people stood up and took notice of the Phoenix culinary scene, especially when it comes to James Beard nominations."
  • 53. Brandon Casey of The Ostrich:
"My guilty pleasure drink is Coors Light and an expensive shot of whiskey. "
  • 52. Jonathan Buford of Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.:
Buford grew up in Ohio, but when school didn't hold his attention, he learned to tap into his passions and create opportunities that truly inspired him.
  • 51. Sasha Raj of 24 Carrots:
When she's not in the kitchen at the Tempe restaurant, you can usually find her exploring Arizona with her corgi, Nimbus.
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  • 50. Rob Fullmer of Arizona Craft Brewers Guild:
"Right now, I can't think of anything more gratifying and rewarding than being the Guild director and helping breweries grow."
  • 49. Bill and Lillian Buitenhuys of AZ Bitters Lab:
"Our go-to place for Arizona wine, artisanal cheese and charcuterie, and wonderful local products in Phoenix is Arcadia Premium."
  • 48. Ramon Button of Ramona Farms:
"I have dedicated my life to bringing back to our people and sharing with others our wholesome and nutritious traditional foodways."
  • 47. Justin Piazza of La Piazza Al Forno and La Piazza PHX:
"Deep-dish pizza is sacrilege."
  • 46. Andrew Gooi of Food Talkies:
"Five years ago, I was a civil engineer and never thought I'd be a filmmaker."
  • 45. Jason Raducha of Noble Bread and Noble Eatery:
"I have always enjoyed food and the experience that it creates, from bringing my family and friends together, and engaging in conversation."
  • 44. Ty Largo of Awe Collective:
"The most common mistake new restaurants make is assuming customers will keep coming back."
  • 43. Christopher Gross of Christopher's and Crush Lounge:
During his culinary career, Gross has rubbed elbows with some of the biggest names in the world of food.
  • 42. Heidi Lee of Into The Soup:
Lee is a trained chef, and worked in the industry for nearly 20 years before taking her talents behind the microphone.
  • 41. ET Rivera of Tres Leches Cafe:
"My biggest inspiration is chef Silvana of Barrio Cafe."
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  • 40. Monika Woolsey of Hip Veggies:
"There are so many foods in our yards we either don't use or don't know how to use. We have not even started to tap that culinary potential."
  • 39. Bobby Kramer of The Brickyard:
After spending years in the medical field, Kramer became fascinated with the "chemistry, alchemy, and even the science of flavor."
  • 38. Jenna Reeves of Press Coffee Roasters:
"Every day, I try and meet the standards of specialty coffee, and do my best to represent my part in the seed-to-cup process."
  • 37. Sarah Chisholm of Phoenix Public Market Cafe:
"My best advice for an aspiring baker is to invest in cookbooks."
  • 36. Bill Kennedy of Futuro:
"My go-to place for pho in Phoenix is Pho Thahn. Da Vang loyalists be damned!"
  • 35. Jan Bracamonte of J. Lauren PR & Marketing:
"Very little cooking actually happens in my kitchen, but no one orders better takeout than me."
  • 34. Erin Romanoff of the uprooted kitchen"My three favorite kitchen tools are my microplane, my mortar and pestle, and my hands."
  • 33. Baker Mandy Bublitz:
"I started baking because I wanted to know about sourdough. I'd buy flour at Pane Bianco when Hayden was milling in the back room."
  • 32. Tony Chanthavong of Snoh Ice Shavery:
The former radiologist came to Arizona from southern California more than a decade ago, and came up with the idea to open a Taiwanese shave ice shop in 2012.
  • 31. Donald Hawk of Welcome Chicken + Donuts:
"I'm excited and super-humbled about being on this list with these other incredible people."
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  • 30. Krystal Bittner of Arizona Society of Homebrewers:
"My beer-related pet peeve is bartenders assuming that I don’t know anything about beer or that I only drink the 'girly stuff.'"
  • 29. Garrison Whiting of Counter Intuitive and Cowboy Ciao:
Before taking the lead on Counter Intuitive's culinary offerings, Whiting worked at next door at Cowboy Ciao for about five years.
  • 28. Michelle Jacoby and Mark Lipczynski of Bite Magazine:
"It’s refreshing to see small businesses and restaurants working together, using each other’s products, partnering on events, and promoting each other’s businesses."
  • 27. Chris Osborn of Western Retail Advisors:
As vice president of restaurants and hospitality at Western Retail Advisors, Osborn works with restaurant owners to fill Phoenix's notoriously ubiquitous strip malls with worthwhile destinations to eat and drink.
  • 26. Yasu Hashino of Yasu Sushi Bistro:
"I work six days out of the week, so on my one day off I try to go to the mountains and enjoy the nature."
  • 25. Jennifer Russo of The Market Restaurant + Bar by Jennifer's:
Russo graduated from California Culinary Academy in San Francisco before going on to work with top Valley chefs including Vincent Guerithault at Vincent on Camelback, Chef Anton Brunbauer at Westin Kierland Resort & Spa and Viking Cruises, and Mark Tarbell at Tarbell's.
  • 24. Bret Pont of Hobe Meats:
Born and raised in Oregon, Bret Pont moved to Arizona in 1990 "in search of a brighter, more challenging future."
  • 23. Josh Hebert of Posh Improvisational Cuisine:
"The worst culinary trend I've seen recently is people shunning traditional dining in lieu of happy hour everywhere."
  • 21. Andrew Fritz of In Good Spirits:
"I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat at a bar or table and the bartender or server never even attempted to acquire information about me."
  • 20. Eddie Hantas of Hummus Xpress:
"The Lost Leaf is my go-to when I'm in the mood for an intimate jazz session."
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  • 19. Matt Taylor of Gertrude's at the Desert Botanical Garden:
By combining his Canadian roots with his experience in American and Southern cuisine, Taylor hopes to establish Gertrude's as one of Arizona's iconic restaurants.
  • 18. Sam Pillsbury of Pillsbury Wine Company:
"Wine should always be served cool."
  • 17. Tom D'Ambrosio of Aioli Gourmet Burgers:
"My three essential kitchen staples are Diamond Crystal kosher salt, aged balsamic, and fresh garlic."
  • 16. Randy Walters of Wimpy's Paradise:
"You'd never see me put pumpkin spice anything on one of my hot dogs!"
  • 15. Urian Torres of FrinGo's Kitchen:
"The Phoenix area has grown in cultural diversity over the last 10 years, which we believe will open many more doors for current and future business owners."
  • 14. Armando Hernandez of Tacos Chiwas:
"My favorite childhood food memory is watching our grandma make tortillas on a wood-fired cast iron stove every morning; it was the best smell to wake up to."
  • 13. Lindsey Magee of Ollie Vaughn's:
"Right now, I'm totally obsessed with our chocolate cupcakes with espresso frosting and totally over giardiniera on my sandwiches."
  • 12. Travis Nass of Caskwerks Distilling:
"More than anything else, I think people just want a delicious beverage. I think the times of suffering through rotgut booze with canned juice just to catch a buzz is finally coming to an end."
  • 11. Nino McCurley of Nomadic Ice Cream Rolls:
McCurley was selling paintings at an art show when he stumbled across videos of ice cream rolls being made — he fell in love and says he knew it was what he had been searching for.
  • 10. Kevin Binkley of Cafe Bink:
A graduate of the Scottsdale Culinary Institute in 1994, Binkley honed his skills while working at two of the top 13 restaurants in the United States.
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  • 9. Anthony Canecchia of SanTan Brewing Company:
"I knew that I wanted to make beer when my first batch of homebrew turned out delicious and got me and my friends buzzed."
  • 8. Chrysa Robertson of Rancho Pinot:
"I have a hard time with tricky, deconstructed, exploded, foamed, dabbed, doodled, or dusted food that's been manipulated into oblivion."
  • 7. Dee Logan of Arizona Community Farmers Market Group:
"Enjoy sharing wonderful delicious food with family and friends? That’s what fresh and local is about."
  • 6. Kazuto Kishino of Hana Japanese Eatery:
"My pet peeve in the kitchen is lack of focus and not standing properly when using a knife."
  • 5. Rob Berkner of North Mountain Brewing Company:
Berkner started cooking at a young age, and later traveled through Europe in 1985 getting a taste of other cultures and exploring the world of craft beer.
  • 4. Richie Moe of Square One Concepts:
Moe is currently beverage director for Square One Concepts and is based out of the company's newest restaurant, Bourbon & Bones Chophouse and Bar.
  • 3. Julia Peixoto of Peixoto Coffee:
Born and raised in a coffee-growing family in Brazil, with at least four generations of coffee growers prior to hers, Julia Peixoto started Peixoto Coffee in 2015 with her husband, Jeff Peters.
  • 2. Silvana Salcido Esparza of Barrio Cafe, Barrio Urbano, and Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva:
"I dedicated my career to the memory of my Mexican gourmet mother, baking father, and chingona grandmother Silvana. I dedicated my career to the betterment of my culture through my food."
  • 1. Chris Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco, Pane Bianco, and Tratto:
When Chris Bianco started Pizzeria Bianco inside the back corner of a neighborhood grocery store, he had no idea he would become a driving force in the slow-food movement in Phoenix — let alone one of the world's most famous pizza makers.
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Courtesy of St. Francis
100: Aaron Chamberlin of St. Francis and Phoenix Public Market Cafe: "My favorite growing season in Phoenix is the fall/winter months because of the abundance in flavorful and nutritious leafy greens."
As part of our countdown to the 2016 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times named 100 Tastemakers, or members of our local culinary community who help shape the way we eat, drink, and think about food in Phoenix. Some were familiar faces while others may have been new acquaintances, but each person on the list deserves a nod for helping make our city so delicious.