Arizona Foodie Magazine

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June - Aug. 2017

Arizona Foodie Staycation Issue


Mar iew at v a h it Eat w P. 26

Road Trip: Sedona P.36


taco chelo is a collaboration between chef suny santana, artist gennaro garcia and restaurateur aaron chamberlin. 5 01 E. ROOSE VE LT ST. PHO EN IX , AZ 85004


June 6 Food Truck Scookie Bar gives us the scoop on their sweet treats.. 9 Get it Grill! From appetizers to dessert, we’re cooking this simple meal on the grill.

14 Cook Like A Chef Chef Joshua Murray shares his beloved Pork Belly recipe. 18 Sushi With Sous Chefs Chef Sanchez on being a female in the kitchen and her first menu at Talavera. 22 Lighter Side of Porter How one day changed his outlook on life.

26 Chasing Butterflies Chef Lisa Dahl opens up about her past struggles and what keeps her motivated. 34 No Travel Necessary Exquiste food with a stellar view and a Chef that’s one with nature. 36 Sedona City Guide Take a quick drive North to beat the heat this summer.

40 Top Ten Keep your cool with these sweet treats. 42 Anatomy Of See what this dish is made of.

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Editor Letter

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Photography by Chanelle Sinclair

When I made the decision to do Arizona Foodie Magazine, I hoped that people would like it, but I never expected to get the response that we did. Thank you all for the support and positive responses we received on the first issue. I’m happy to report that this time around there were no sleepless nights, nightmares, or massive amounts of anxiety. I want to thank my writers again for helping me and to Chanelle Sinclair for being a huge part of the magazine. She took the majority of these gorgeous pictures for our staycation issue. Summer is coming! That’s right people. It’s about that time when the thermostat hits miserable, and your body bursts into flames every time you step outside. Summer is not only the perfect time to plan your vacation out of the state but also a time to escape the heat at our stellar local resorts. What am I doing to cool off this year? Being from San Diego, I’m happy that the ocean is only a short drive away. You’ll find me chilling on the beach and eating at my go-to spots around town. Once back to Phoenix, I’ll do a couple of staycations. My favorite place to stay is The Princess for the Fourth of July. Sure it’s like being in an oven this time of year, but the pool, food, and activities keep things at bay. Then it’s off to Seattle for a couple of weeks to visit with my family and fill my belly with the tastes of the Pacific North West. By the end of that trip, it’s almost August, and our summer is on the downhill run. Time for another staycation. If you want a quick escape, then Sedona is the perfect location, just a short couple hours away, and a few degrees cooler. If this is your plan, then you’re in luck, we’ve picked out some of our favorite places to eat and where to lay your head at night. We’re also sharing some fascinating stories from the top Chefs in Sedona. We featured Chef Dahl from Mariposa, who has created several fan favorite restaurants. People come from all over the world to try her dishes, but very few know the tragedy she’s had to overcome to get to this point. Another restaurant people flock to when visiting is Elote Café. Chef Jeff tells us how he arrived in Sedona with little to his name and lived in a storage room until he was kicked out. Our other stories include local Chef Samantha Sanz from Four Seasons. She tells us about her journey through the kitchen as a woman. At the Phoenician, Robert Porter’s shaking things up, and Chef Joshua Murray from The Renaissance is sharing his beloved pork belly recipe. So while the heat can make anyone go a little crazy, we hope that this summer you’ll get a chance to try something new. Enjoy one of our many resorts or head up to the beautiful red rocks. Until then, we’ll see you in the fall!

a n a i o D n Chief

xoxa Brandt Editor I Dian

Arizona Foodie

These are my people! You’ll find their contributions throughout the magazine, on the website or just as a plus one to many of our events. They have pretty rad food accounts too, you should give them a follow on Istagram.

J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge

I love going to Sedona

Rhea Johansen Cutest Pregnant Chick Contributor @phoodfight

lace p e t i favor ? Your taycation to s

Jennifer Lind Schutsky My Slightly Hippy? Contributor @bitchesfoodclub

Anywhere with a pool, drinks and lots of sun!

Arizona Biltmore

Stephanie Sparer Hilarious Person & Contributor @bitchesfoodclub

Ali Wyant Also Cutest Preggo Contributor @alimwyant

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

L’Auberge in Sedona

Angel Fuchs Egg Loving Contributor @yaybabyblog

Rheana Techapinyawat Med Student/Contributor

The Palomar

Royal Palms and Four Seasons

Photography by Chanelle Sinclair Chanelle Sinclair Magical Unicorn Photographer @iamchanellephoto

Copyright 2017, Arizona Foodie, LLC All Rights Reserved.

Joseph Riedy Fox Concepts Connoisseur/Contributor @newfoodphx

I did it all for the Scookie! By Angel Fuchs Photography by Timothy Fox Photography




ot long ago a couple of sassy chicks got tired of the ho-hum monotony

of their 9-5 jobs. Restless in the daily grind and armed with sweet memories of time spent in the kitchen baking with their grandmothers, local ladies, Laura Browder and Veanney Hurtado dreamed up the idea of starting a dessert food truck. Dreaming turned into reality and The Scookie Bar was born in July of 2016.  “We were working so hard at our previous jobs and sometimes felt unappreciated,” said Browder. “We wanted to do something that we could pour our hearts into and have our dedication acknowledged.” And acknowledged it was! The Scookie Bar was an immediate hit on the streets of Phoenix. Few could resist the sweet delights of warm, freshly baked cookies, straight out of the oven, generously gilded with Thrifty’s ice cream, whipped cream, and various other toppings.  Business was going well for the ladies, who started off the business with a trailer hitched to a truck. But suddenly disaster struck. Only a few months after they launched The Scookie Bar was involved in a serious car accident. “It happened on a Sunday, and we never work Sundays, but it was National Cookie Day, so we were out,” said Hurtado. “Our truck rolled on the freeway!” Thankfully nobody was injured, but the trailer was a total loss, and the future of The Scookie Bar looked bleak. “It was hard work getting everything up and going in the first place, and suddenly we were back to square one,” said Hurtado. “But it all worked in the end.” Instead of dwelling on their loss, Browder and Hurtado set to finding a new rig. They lucked out with an old U-Haul moving truck. With a little help and lots of hope, they modified the truck to fit their needs, adding a convection oven, a deep freezer and prep stations. The Scookie Bar was sidelined for two months, but in January 2017 they were ready to hit the streets again, and they felt better than ever. “The new truck was so much easier for the two of us to handle, easier to drive and less work than hitching and hauling a huge trailer,” said Hurtado. “We consider the accidnet to be a blessing in disguise.” Always a crowd pleaser everywhere they go, the ladies of the Scookie Bar continue to dream big and plan to open a storefront sometime in the future. “That was our original goal, but after meeting with realtors, lenders and mentors, we decided a food truck was the best way to get started,” said Browder. “Someday we will have our storefront, and a Scookie Bar in multiple states across the country!” The Scookie Bar stands out at every stop, not only because of the irresistible aroma wafting out of their truck but also because these young women greet every customer with genuine warmth and dazzling smiles. They are high energy, and their passion shows in everything from their attitudes to

the scrumptious treats they are doling out. They attribute that enthusiasm to the fact that they get to be a part of events that will be forever remembered, like birthdays, weddings and graduations. Both women agree that they feel honored to be a part of such special life events.  In addition to being business partners, Hurtado and Browder are also life partners. “First it was love at first sight, now it’s love at first bite,” they like to say.   The Scookie Bar serves up four different cookie flavors (chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, peanut butter and sugar) and six ice cream flavors (vanilla, chocolate, mint chocolate chip, birthday cake, butter pecan, and strawberry), plus a variety of toppings and syrups. Their best selling treat is the “Standard Scookie” which is a chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream, topped with whipped cream, chocolate chips, and chocolate syrup. But if you ask for their recommendation they will steer you towards the “Signature Scookie” a snickerdoodle cookie, with butter pecan ice cream, topped with whipped cream, almonds, and caramel. I say you can’t go wrong with any flavor combination.  Look for the Scookie Bar at local food truck festivals and stops across the valley. You can find their schedule by following their sweet journey on social media @thescookiebar.

Arizona Foodie


Local Love By Stephanie Sparer

Arizona has a lot of in-state favorites (*waves hello to prickly pear anything*), but not all of these favorites are available at your local grocer. Treasures are worth the hunt, right? So we searched the state for three awesome cult-products you should probably become a fan of ASAP. You know, because the sooner you get your hands on these goodies the sooner you can start taste-testing them.

Nutsack Search ‘Nutsacks’ online and you’re sure to get hit with some colorful Amazon suggestions, but the only nuts you should put in your mouth are Bill Sutherland’s Nutsacks. Sutherland started the Nutsack company in 2014 and has gone from selling his nuts with the silly name at farmer’s markets to restaurants and coffee shops around the valley. His website gives a list of locations where his nuts are served, but your best bet is to head to his online retail store and have his nuts shipped right to your door. Our favorite are the hickory smoked almonds, but you do you. Nutsack has six varieties to choose from and they’re all really tasty. https://



You down with ICC? Iconic Cocktail Co.’s owners, Matt Farrow and Kaylee Nedley wanted to start their own dive bar when they almost accidentally created the Iconic Cocktail Co. as it is today; small, fresh, local cocktail mixers. Now, Iconic Cocktail Co. makes it easy to be your own bartender and make a unique cocktail from the finest ingredients found around the state. Yes, including that evercoveted (but super seasonal!) Prickly Pear Sour. You can find the Iconic Cocktail Co. at various events and some farmer’s markets, or, what we suggest is you just head to their online shop and buy in bulk there instead. https://

Photo Credit: Chanelle Sinclair

I c o n i c Cocktail Co.


d o o w n o t in Cot Wild Tonic Jun Kombucha is fermented with honey, not sugar, giving this drink a softer flavor than traditional kombucha. Jun is not just a cute name for your next kid, it’s a form of kombucha made by fermenting tea and honey with a culture, or rather, SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast). Sure, that sounds a little weird to those not riding the kombucha train, but rest assured the finished product is a refreshing, delicious probiotic drink that is actually healthy for you. Plus, their pretty cobalt bottles aren’t just for aesthetic, they protect the probiotics in the drink from UV light. They really thought of everything. If you’re looking for your fix though, you have to look kind of hard. Wild Tonic is available at Press Coffee locations and a few health clubs around the valley, but if you’re in your local supermarket, you won’t find these babies on the shelves. https://

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Arizona Foodie


Can you feel it? Summer is coming and the last thing you want is your oven heating up the house. So trhow some coals on that grill and get ready for these super simple recipes.

Simple Grilled Romaine Salad 2 heads of romaine lettuce, cut lengthwise to result in 4 halves 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, separated 1 lemon, halved Salt and freshly ground black pepper Shaved parmesan cheese for garnish Heat clean grill to medium-high. Brush both sides of the romaine halves with half of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place the lemon halves on the grill to sear while you grill the romaine. Place the romaine, cut side down for 3 minutes, pressing with your tongs to ensure they get direct heat all over. Flip and grill them on the other side for another 2 minutes. Remove the lemon and grilled romaine from the grill. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Carefully squeeze the grilled lemon juice over the romaine. Sprinkle each half with shaved parmesan and serve.

Grilled Potato Skewers 2 lbs. baby red potatoes 3 tbsp. good quality olive oil 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley 2 cloves garlic, minced Wash, dry, and halve the potatoes. Place the potatoes in a large ziplock bag along with the olive oil, parsley, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Seal, and toss to coat the potatoes. Add the potatoes to metal skewers and grill over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, turning halfway through to ensure they are cooked evenly. When they are easily pierced with a fork, remove from the grill and serve warm with any dipping sauce you like.

Beer Can Chicken 6 tbsp. dark brown sugar 1 tbsp. smoked paprika 1 tbsp. chili powder 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes 2 tsp. garlic powder 1 tbsp. kosher salt 1/2 tbsp. coarse black pepper 1/2 tbsp. mustard powder 2 tbsp. olive oil

1 3-4 lb. whole chicken (giblets removed if necessary) 1 12-oz. can beer 4 peeled and smashed garlic cloves Preheat one side of your grill to 350-400 degrees F. Lay a large piece of heavy duty foil down on the cool side of the grill. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, paprika, chili powder, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and mustard powder. Open your can of beer, and drink it halfway down. Now drop the garlic cloves into the beer. Smother the chicken in the olive oil and then rub well with your seasoning mixture. Place beer can on a baking sheet, then hold the chicken upright and place chicken cavity over the beer can. It should set firmly on the beer. Carry baking sheet with beer can chicken to the grill and place beer can chicken on the cool side of the grill. Keep baking sheet close by for when you remove the chicken from grill. Close the lid and cook for 1 hour without opening the grill. After an hour on the grill, open the lid, insert a meat thermometer into the breast and close the lid again. Cook for another 30 minutes, checking to make sure that the grill temperature stays between 300-350

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degrees F. After 30 minutes, open to check the meat thermometer. If it reads 160-170, you may pull it off of the grill. If it is not quite done, close the lid, and let cook for another 30 minutes, checking the meat thermometer to read 160-170 degrees F every 10 minutes. When removing the beer can chicken from the grill, be very careful. Use tongs, oven mitts, and/or a spatula to get it back on the baking sheet. Cover with tin foil and allow the chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. When ready to carve, carefully remove the chicken from the beer can, remove the wings and thighs, then carve out the breast meat. Serve hot.

Grilled Strawberry Shortcake Store bought (or homemade) pound cake 1 lb. fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced ¼ cup granulated sugar 1 ½ cups cold heavy whipping cream ½ cup powdered sugar ½ tsp. vanilla extract Slice the pound cake into 8-10 even slices. In a medium bowl, toss the strawberries and granulated sugar together and place on a small baking sheet or grill-proof bowl. In a stand mixer, or with a hand

mixer, whip the cold heavy cream for 2 minutes before adding in the powdered sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form, set aside. Heat clean grill to medium heat. Grill the pound cake slices until golden brown grill marks appear, then flip and repeat on other side. While the second side is grilling place the pan of strawberries on the grill to warm through. Serve the grilled pound cake slices with warm strawberries and fresh whipped cream.

Strawberry & Mango Summer Splash

By Jennifer Lind Shutsky

This simple recipe for a refreshing summer drink, will wow any of your guests this. Cheers! 1 bottle Prosecco (we used GIGI Prosecco Doc made with organic grapes) 1 & 1/2 Cup frozen Strawberries and Mangos 1 Cup Ocean Organic Vodka Vodka Instructions: Combine Vodka and berries and blend to a smooth consistency. Coat glass with fruit and vodka puree mixture and fill with Prosecco.

Welcome To Shady Pines

by Diana Brandt Photography by Chanelle Sinclair

On this page: Pork Belly Dish. On Right Page: Chicken Taquitos, Chef Preparing Dish, Chicken & Waffles


am a few minutes late to our meeting and I run across the street towards the Renaissance Downtown Phoenix Hotel. It has recently been remodeled and there is a new Chef that I have yet to meet waiting inside to chat with me. I scurry past the Starbucks right inside and notice the gigantic, sparkling chandelier, barely resting off the floor. It’s quite the centerpiece for the lobby area! I wander up to the concierge and ask for directions, they point directly behind me. I spy an unsuspecting restaurant filled with deep colored accents, heavy screw like stools, carved wood tables, fur rugs and a comfort not typically found in hotel restaurants. The windows are rolled open like garage doors to let in the beautiful weather and you can see the bustle of downtown wander by. It’s only lunch time but the restaurant is buzzing with suits. Executive Chef Joshua Murray walks towards me, he towers over me and shakes my hand firmly. His hair is a dirty blond, cut short and he smiles big as he walks me through the restaurant. We find a cozy corner hidden in the back, where we can chat privately and nibble on some of his food. Chef Murray has been a part of the Marriott family for quite some time. Most recently working in Sonoma at The Lodge before finding his way to Phoenix. He’s also been in Palm Desert, Ft. Lauderdale and Chantilly, to name a few other places. We start to glance through the menu and he immediately opens his menu and points out a dish that has significant meaning to him. “The pork belly dish that is on the menu right now, that dish identifies me the most.” I glance at the menu to see what he’s referring to. “I grew up in such a small town in Spotsylvania, Virginia, on the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It took 30 minutes to get to a grocery store. So for me, food was entertainment and it was about breaking bread with the people you love. People are now afraid to cook for me because I’m a chef but my favorite meal to eat is a homecooked meal, that somebody put their heart into. That inspires me.” The fondness of his upbringing is apparent when he speaks. “When we would have people come over and entertain

at the house, it was all about good people and good friends. It was unpretentious and it was the essences of true hospitality.” The waiter brings us some waters and he takes a quick sip. “One of the things with food that my dad and I always bonded on was BBQ. Growing up, we worked on this rub together. When I was around 4 or 5 years old, I started doing hog roasts. My dad was an amazing metal crafter and we would make our own hog cookers. Then we would do these 2-day hog roasts where people would come over and put up tents.” He smirks a bit as he continues to speak. “My dad was always good on the grill. My mom was a good cook as well, but she’s from New England, so a little bland on her cookery. The salt shaker was prevalent in my hand.” He chuckles, as he pushes his water glass around a bit. “There are a lot of nostalgic dishes that I have from growing up, like chicken and dumplings, that she makes and I refuse to attempt making them myself.” A plate of warm cornbread paired with soft butter and some avocado fries are placed in front of us. I grab my fork and ask him what made him decide to become a Chef. He thinks for a minute. “As time progressed, I didn’t know what the restaurant industry was all about. I knew I loved art and science and I loved togetherness and family. Cooking was an ability that embodied all those things and could put a smile on someone’s face.” He cuts a piece of cornbread from the skillet and slathers the cilantro agave butter over it. “I continued to work on the spice rub my father and I had started. I was determined to perfect it. During my time working in this industry, I’ve had the opportunity to travel and work all over the country. I learned that there are a million various kinds of BBQ styles. As I’ve evolved as a Chef, I’ve taken different aspects of each one and blended it into this dry rub that I use on the pork belly and its roots tie all the way back to my childhood.” I’m enjoying the avocado fries while he speaks. I bite into that crisp outer texture and my teeth sink into the soft avocado inside. A plate of chicken taquitos, pork wings and the pork belly arrive at our table. Chef inspects the dishes and I grab my phone to take pictures of them. “For me and with my love of BBQing and smoking, I

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“Having a family as a chef is a difficult sacrifice.�

began to play with this pork belly dish. Pork belly is something that got pretty trendy and was on all the menus. When someone doesn’t do it right, you end up with this gelatinous and fatty style of pork belly.” I pick up a piece of pork belly on my fork and take a bite, it’s tender and flavorful. “I smoke the pork belly for 6 hours, after I use my special rub to dry rub it. When it comes out of the smoker, I press it and weight it in the cooler for another 24 to 30 hours. I want to get any of that fat out of there, so that what is left over is a desirable, palatable amount of fat.” He grabs one of the pork wings and slides the meat off the bone. “One of my favorite things to do is take a dish that somebody loves and is near and dear to their heart and build on it. If your favorite thing is lasagna, I want to take what you honor about that lasagna and expand on that memory or connect with the soul in a new way.” I ask if his family ever visits him here. He shakes his head no. “Having a family as a chef is a difficult sacrifice. I have a 3-year-old son that lives out on the East coast with his mom. I FaceTime him every day, which isn’t enough, but I try to keep up with him.” He bites into another piece of wing, “Going home every couple months for a dedicated 10 days, allows me to spend a level of quality time with him that I never really had even when I lived with him every single day. So when I take time off, we go back to where I grew up.” “My parents have over 40 acres out in the sticks. We built their home ourselves and every log came off our property. My dad’s mom lives back there and both of my sisters have a home there too. We call it Shady Pines. When I go back home, I get to see the whole family and expose my son to my roots. That’s a culture that is important for my boy to be a part of too.” He glances over to the open window and continues to speak, “I’ve missed out on so many holidays my entire life. Two years ago, was the first Thanksgiving I had off in about 15 years. I got to go home and cook dinner for my family, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. Now I know I have this one anchor day and it has become this new tradition for me to go back and cook for my family. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, it’s everything a holiday should be.” I ask him if he has plans to move closer to home as I nibble on a piece of the crispy chicken taquito. “I do have a desire to get back to my son and I will. I have a little more time before he starts school. That’s my mark for when I want to be closer.” His voice softens, “Obviously, it rips me apart day in and day out that I’m not there now. I do the best I can to manage through it. It’s not about buying him a bunch of gifts, it’s about exposing him to what is important. We go fishing and build bird houses and go 4 wheeling. It’s never enough but it’s good and it’s the best compromise I can make right now.” I thank Chef Murray for his time. He’s a very down to earth person and I can tell family is important to him. As with Chef’s family, food can be used to bring us together, and I hope that it will bring Chef Joshua Murray and his son closer together soon. Renaissance Phoenix Downtown 100 N 1st St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

Pork Belly with Copper City Bourbon & Date Glaze Preparing the Pork Belly Dry rub pork belly with Chef’s BBQ Seasoning. Smoke pork belly at 225 degrees for two and a half hours. Transfer pork belly to a roasting rack, cover with a sheet pan and cook at 250 degrees for four hours. Then roast pork belly on a roasting rack and cover top with a sheet pan. Once finished cooking, transfer each piece to a 200pan or a heavy duty baking sheet. Place another 200pan or baking sheet on top and use cast iron pans to press pork belly. Press pork overnight in the refrigerator, and then cut into cubes. Copper City Bourbon & Date Glaze 1 Bottle Copper City Bourbon 1 Shallot, diced 1 Each Dates 1 Orange, Sliced 1 Maple Syrup 1 Each Rosemary 1 Sprig ¼ Cup Butter Sweat shallot in a small amount of oil. Add bourbon and let alcohol burn off for 1-2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, except butter and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Remove rosemary and orange slices. Puree in blender until smooth. Emulsify in butter. Put the pork belly in the glaze and top with decorative flowers.

Arizona Foodie



With Sous Chefs Sponsored By Zen at Delux Burger

By Diana Brandt Photography by Chanelle Sinclair

From left: Hot Sake Roll, Chef Balo, Poke, Restaurant details. On Far Page: Diana Brandt & Chef Samantha Sanz.


can almost taste that juicy burger as I walk towards the front door. I’ll never forget the time I first experienced a Delux Burger with a side of fries in a little shopping cart. Those delicious hamburgers quickly became one of my favorites in town. I push open the doors to the familiar space, booths adorn one side of the small space, a counter runs down the other side and in the middle is a row of steel hightops with blue lights glowing inside them. I walk towards the open kitchen in the back. Cooks are bustling to get their plates out for the hungry lunch guests. I’m greeted by the manager as we take a left and walk into the other space, now occupied by Zen, their sushi concept. Chef Balo is standing there with a large grin on his face, eager to shake my hand. I can tell he’s excited to share his food with us, while I interview Chef Samantha Sanz of Talavera, from The Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. I slide into the booth closest to the windows and door because the lighting is optimal. Chanelle starts clicking away at her camera to test the light and grab some detail shots. I look up from the table and spot Chef Sanz walking across the parking lot towards the restaurant, with her boyfriend by her side. I get up from the table, open the door and give her a hug. This is only the

second time I’ve seen her without her chefs coat on. A colorful patterned dress blows in the breeze as she walks and her thick brown hair is not up in a bun like usual but falls midway to her back. We settle into the booth while she tells me about her night off. I gather that it consisted of plenty of eating and drinking at Restaurant Progress, and then continued at a few other places. She apologizes for being tired and out of it, but I assure her the interview will be quick. She takes a long drink of her water, then cleares her throat. “I come from Nogales, a small town in Mexico that borders Arizona. We grew up there and crossed the border every day. I came here to Phoenix after high school and went to culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu. One day at school, somebody asked if we wanted to go prep at the restaurant inside the Sanctuary, Elements, for Super Bowl weekend, in 2008. I went, and Chef Beau MacMillan gave me a job on the spot.” Chef Sanz’s accent isn’t thick anymore, but you can tell it’s her second language. “I was still going to school and working every day. It was 16 hour days standing. One time, I started crying to my mom that I couldn’t do this anymore because I was so overwhelmed. She told me to just push through it because I only

had two more months of school left.” She transitioned well from school to work, but she had a major obstacle. “When I got into the kitchen at the Sanctuary, it was hard because I had the language barrier thing going on. I understood what everyone was saying, but it was hard to be confident in what I responded with. I was exposed to English, but I wasn’t good at having conversations with it.” I’m always curious about the kitchen dynamics for women in an industry dominated by men. The kitchen can be an aggressive space. It takes a tough skin and ambition if you’re going to succeed. “The guys were all cooking Gods in my eyes. They were all level 1 cooks, and I was the rookiest of the rookies. It was very hard for me to adapt and some of them were really mean to me.” Food comes to our table, and Chanelle lifts her camera and starts snapping away again. I take my chopsticks and grab a piece of the roll, staging it in the air for pictures, before devouring it. Delicious! “They would slam the doors on me,” Chef Sanz says with aggravation., “and there was this one time this guy was talking crap about me, calling me lazy and all this other stuff. I told him to go fuck himself. It was the first time I

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had ever said something bad in English, but after that, they stopped bothering me. They just needed me to stand up for myself.” She takes the chopsticks in her hands and begins to eat before continuing with another story. “Another guy was so mean to me, but he was the one that taught me how to cook. One night we went out, and he was so sweet. He was kissing on me. I was shocked because of the way he treated me at work. I asked him why he was nice to me now when he was always so mean to me at work. His response was, ‘Oh, I’m just building your tough skin for the other kitchens.’ I realized then that these guys were trying to build me up and throw me into the fire, to make sure I could handle it.” Chef Balo returns to our table with another beautiful dish of delicate pieces of fish. “Elements became my school, that’s where I learned everything and where I was brought up as a cook. My goal was to become a cook 1 in 3 years, but by the time I got to that level, I was pretty burnt out.” The tone of her voice saddens. “I had started evaluating my



life, sure I had finished school and I was working, but I felt like I hadn’t done anything in my youth.” At 22 years old, she began to reflect on her life and have doubts. “I would see my friends Facebook pages, and they would be covered in vacations and all this fun stuff. All I was doing was working. Those were also the first years of my life that I had missed family holidays and that was very, very sad for me. It was heartbreaking. I felt a little lost. I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing and I didn’t know if I was following the right path. I just wanted to take a little time off from cooking, and I wanted to be young and do my own thing.” The waiter comes to our table to clear the plates and fill our water. She takes a sip from her cup. “I made the decision to leave for Paris. I sold all of my stuff, packed two suitcases and left to become a nanny to a wealthy family. It was wonderful! I lived in Paris in a tiny little apartment on the 14th floor right next to the Eiffel tower. Each day I climbed 14 flights of stairs, but it was worth it.” I can see a twinkle in her eye as

she speaks. She vividly remembers her time overseas, and I can tell how much she loved it. “I would spend my time off going to the markets. I ate all the bread, and I had baguettes in my bag all the time. It was such a cool experience to see how beautiful the food was. At Elements, I was getting crazy creative and overthinking it. In Paris, it’s all about simplicity and good product. The flavor there is so intense and organic, it’s how things should taste.” We laugh as she tells another story of how she became so tired walking up the stairs at times, she would stop to take a croissant or baguette break. However, the joy of being far from her family and the chilly weather began to wear on her. “After about a year, I began to get depressed.” It was a skiing injury in the Swiss Alps that sent her home for good. Once back in Phoenix, it wasn’t long before she found her way back to the Sanctuary. “I didn’t think I wanted to cook ever again. I stayed away from the kitchen and served at the pool. I was good at it, and at the time, I thought I’d see if the

What to order at Zen

Tuna Tataki Seared big eye tuna, with sumiso fresno sauce and roasted beets.

front of the house was for me. It didn’t take very long to realize that it wasn’t.” With a large grin, Chef Balo places a plate on our table with a whole fish on it. Chef Sanz lights up and tells us about the dish. It’s simple but one that is commonly served as the staff meal or as a dish back home where Chef Sanz is from. I ask Chef where to start, and she begins to pull the fish from the bones. She places some on her plate and mine. The dish may be common, but it’s one of my favorites from the meal. “My friend and roommate was invited to the friends and family dinner at a new restaurant called Virtu, and she invited me to go with her. I remember looking at that menu and thinking how different the dishes were and the whole thing made me giddy again. I thought I could cook here. I could do this again. I decided to talk to the owner and Chef, Gio Osso. We clicked immediately, and he asked me what I wanted and offered me a job. Once I started working there, he promoted me quickly to his sous chef.” Chef Samantha goes on to tell me how excited she was to go to work each day and about her fond memories with Chef Gio, eating prosciutto and parmesan while talking about the menu. She stayed at Virtu for three years. Then she got the feeling that it was time for her to move on. “I had a moment where I didn’t know if I wanted to cook again. For three months, I didn’t know what to do. I applied to a couple of places, but at that point, I would have been happy working

Zen Citrus Yellowtail Seven slices of fresh yellowtail, ponzu, tsumiso, and our secret citrus sauce, topped with avocado, sriracha, & radish sprouts.

at Whole Foods selling cheese.” She looks down at her empty plate and laughs. “Whole Foods called me and told me I was overqualified, and they couldn’t give me a job.” I start to laugh too. “At that point, I saw an article on Chef Mel Mecinas and Oaxaca food, and it was so beautiful.” Her face lights up when she speaks of Chef Mel, and you can tell he means a lot to her. “I knew I needed a mentor and someone to lift me up and I wanted to go back to a cook job. I didn’t want responsibility at that point.” The timing was perfect. Chef Mel had an open position, and she was able to start at Talavera. She’s been there ever since. “Chef Mel was crazy good. He was always happy and so amazing. The best part of working there was watching the staff react to when he would show up. In most kitchens, the staff acts timid around the Chef, but when he would show up, they would look at him like he was their hero. He lifted up the kitchen daily. He was always a very fatherly figure to me. We still hang out, chat, and drink mezcal.” Chef Mel recently left Talavera and Four Seasons to start on a new venture, but this put Chef Sanz in a unique position to take over his kitchen. “For the first time since I’ve worked there, the menu is mine. There is no other Chef behind it. We have Chef Chuck, who is new and he helped me with a couple of things, but he loves the

Hot Sake Roll Salmon Sashimi wrapped with cucumber served with ponzu and our spicy smokey sauce.

menu I created.” We talk about how menu inspiration can’t be forced. It comes from somewhere deep inside the Chef. “There was some worry that I wouldn’t get a new menu done on time. I had gone on a trip to Chiapas with my parents. It was so beautiful and delicious over there. What was really revitalizing though, was being able to immerse myself back into my culture. On the flight back, the menu wrote itself. It just started flowing out of me.” I can sense her pride and joy as she speaks. “This menu has influences of where I come from and what I grew up eating. It has some Latin influence, as well as some influences from what I learned from Chef Beau and Chef Gio. It tells a story of my journey in life and in the industry.” The pictures stop, and Chanelle reviews her photos. We finish our meal, and our interview comes to a close. Chef Sanz gives me these final words, and it warms my heart to see her feel such happiness and passion in her life. “It’s been a crazy ride. I was looking at a journal from 2014, which was a very dark time in my life. I was hopeless, and I was heartbroken.” A smile purses her lips, “My roommate back then said we need to manifest things into the universe. She convinced me to write everything down that I wanted. So I did. I wrote it all down. There was no holding back. I found this list a week ago. I hadn’t read it since 2014, and as I began reading it, I started crying because so many of those things have finally come true.” I’m reminded of what we talked about earlier, that inspiration can’t be forced and it comes from somewhere deep inside the chef. I see this with Chef Samantha. I see her at peace, and I can tell she’s finally at a place in her life where she’s happy. Talavera 10600 E Crescent Moon Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85262 Zen 3146 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

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e d i S r e t r e h t g Li f Por o



by Diana Brandt Photography by Chanelle Sinclair


obert Porter is sitting alone at the bar on the patio of Richardson’s. It’s one of his favorite restaurants. I shake his hand and sit next to him on a tall, heavy stool. The outdoor weather is perfect this time of year. Cacti, rustic woods, and natural stones decorate the space giving it an inviting and warm feeling. I thank Robert for meeting me, and without hesitation, he goes right into telling me his story from start to finish as if prepped for a deposition. I don’t want to stop him, but I know that there’s another story in there and I plan to wait for it. I’m looking for something different, the meat of his story. Finally, while we’re eating and talking as friends, his story reveals itself. What he shares,

was hiring for medical equipment sales. He offered me a lucrative position, and I couldn’t refuse. I did that for about two years and realized it wasn’t the job for me.” “Did you get back into the hotel industry?” I ask. “I got back into bartending,” He said, smiling. “The first place I applied was Hotel Valley Ho. Trader Vic’s was looking for bartenders. They were one of the first to do these crazy Hawaiian drinks. They had like 5-9 ingredients per cocktail, tons of different glassware and ice. This was the place I started to seriously bartend. The people there were on the ball. I didn’t want to embarrass myself, so I did a lot of studying and flashcards until I got everything down.” I start to feel the familiar

“Growing up, my real father was an alcoholic and quite abusive.” takes me back to a similar experience I’ve had in my own past. I’d love to jump straight to that part of the story but let’s get acquainted with this mixologist. Robert used to be a graphic designer but after realizing staring at a computer screen was not for him, he began his journey to becoming a bartender. He’s won a couple of local competitions and now even has his own cocktail mixer called Cocktail Artist, which you can find at Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco and Fry’s nationwide, you’ll see his face right on the bottle. He talks to me about how he went to the Bartending Academy in Tempe to increase his knowledge on booze and to become a bartender. His first job out of the two-week program wasn’t quite what he expected but it got him into the industry. Porter had his first gig at the Holiday Inn in Midtown, which has since shut its doors. “I worked in a small lounge area taking tickets for wine or beer. When the European tour bus would show up on their way to the Grand Canyon, I helped serve them their free drinks.” He stares at the TV screen in front of us. Lost in his thoughts, he continues. “Then I moved into serving and ended up becoming the floor supervisor, then the manager of the restaurant soon after. After two years the Holiday Inn closed, and I transferred to the Sheraton at the Airport. After a month, I met someone in the lobby who

rumblings in my stomach, and I call the waiter over. I order the tenderloin benedict, which sounds drool worthy with two grilled beef tenderloin filets, served high on English muffins, topped with two poached eggs and smothered in jalapeno hollandaise, with a large side of hash browns. After we order, Porter tells me more about his time at Trader Vic’s. “What I really enjoyed about it was they let us shape the menu. As a designer that freedom tapped into my love of being able to see what I can create. I like the instant gratification from making cocktails. I can create art, have you try it right away, and get

Asher told me that, and it’s helped me throughout the years. I’m able to taste a drink and right away, know if it’s balanced or not. It’s about multiple ingredients working together, and when you can do that, it keeps you drinking and wanting more.” He shifts in his seat and turns to me. “I was there for four years. I worked long hours, and I started to feel burnt out.” He tells me how he left The Sanctuary, and how he left town for a month to recharge. He returned to work at Chelsea’s Kitchen for a brief moment before finding his way to The Phoenician. Now that The Phoenician has been acquired by Marriott, he’s excited for the opportunities that could arise and doesn’t plan to leave anytime soon. We nibble on our food and have some small talk, that’s when he begins to loosen up, and we happen to slide right into the meat of his story, almost by accident. “I’ve been in Arizona most of my life. My mom graduated early and went into the air force, that’s where she met my father.” Porter’s voice quiets. “Growing up, my real father was an alcoholic and quite abusive. My mom ended up leaving him for that reason and then she remarried. The new husband was a Navy guy, so we bounced all around. We relocated back to AZ when I was 11 years old, and I’ve been here ever since.” He takes a bite of his breakfast, “I mentioned that I don’t drink much

your feedback. That earlier in our “I had a life changing experience helped conversation. shape me into the experience as I put my dad’s That has a lot to bartender that I am ashes in the urn.” do with my real today.” After four memorable years at father and being around his alcoholism. Trader Vic’s, the restaurant closed, and That kept me from wanting to go that Porter was quickly hired by another local route.” resort. He starts to tell me a part of his “I went over to The Sanctuary, story that strikes a familiar chord. I lean and this was the time when all the in not wanting to miss a single word. powerhouses were there. The Sanctuary “It took me awhile to realize how is all about mixology. They were picking much that relationship and experience herbs and juicing everything and doing with my father was holding me back. things that I didn’t expect to see in a I didn’t want to get into a committed cocktail. I broke open every bartending relationship, and I didn’t want to have book I had and started reading and a family. When I was 39, I got a call that studying again. If you want to be a great my father was sick and didn’t have much bartender, you must understand the longer to live. I hadn’t been on good balance between sugar and acid. Jason terms with him, and we didn’t speak

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much.” were in military garb. They were playing I sense the sadness in his voice taps, and the wind was blowing on my as he recalls his painful past. face. I had a life changing experience as I put my dad’s ashes in the “I decided to fly Porter’s Spots to let urn. I can’t explain it other out and see him one last loose: than I could feel forgiveness time and say goodbye. and this ability to let go, I remember seeing 1.Counter Intuitive. flowing through my body. him and thinking how I felt changed, I’ll never frail and sickly he was. 2. Bitter & Twisted forget that feeling.” Something about that Goosebumps last time I spent with 3.The Vig close to my covered my arms as he him, opened my eyes. I home sipping on a gin spoke. I felt like he was didn’t know it then, but martini telling a part of my story. I was able to begin the “I knew at that healing process.” 5. Second Story Liquor point in my life, my greatest I have all these Bar fear of becoming my things I want to share father wasn’t ever going with him, but I bite my 6. JW Marriot at to happen. I didn’t need to tongue not wanting to Camelback Inn interrupt his train of worry that I would make thought. “My father passed away a couple of weeks later, and I’ll never forget the funeral. The military did a beautiful funeral at Rosencrantz in San Diego. All the tombstones there are lined up perfectly, and my mom and I

the same mistakes as him. I knew that I could be a different person.” That quote could have come directly from my mouth. “I left The Sanctuary around this time and really started to get healthy and back in shape. I got out of a long

relationship and decided to visit my sister in LA. I was going through so much internal change, and I needed to try and reevaluate my life and what I really wanted to do. This was a time for me to reflect on who I was and what my purpose was.” Porter sits up in his chair and smiles. I can feel his contentment. “That’s when my life started to change. That’s when I started to work hard. I broke free from those chains of my past, and I finally felt confident in my abilities.” I box up the rest of my breakfast, and we wrap up our conversation. As we part ways, I can’t seem to stop thinking about what he shared with me. It wasn’t even a story he was planning to tell, and he probably has no idea how much I related to it. Everyone one has issues in our past that haunt us, but can we break free of these chains as Porter has? Thirsty Camel Lounge 6000 East Camelback Scottsdale, AZ 85251


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Chasing Butterflies by Diana Brandt Photography by Chanelle Sinclair



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On this page: Mariposa Burger




can’t help but feel excited as I drive up the single lane road into Sedona. Perhaps it’s the majestic scenery,

or maybe the positive energy from the vortexes. I remind myself that it’s a short 2 hour drive from Phoenix and I’ll have to make a trip back. However, today the scenic hikes and the energy readings are not the reason for my visit. I’m here to talk with Chef Lisa Dahl. Her restaurants are top rated, and we’ll be dining at Mariposa, her most talked about restaurant. I’ve been eager to taste the Sedona food scene, but the true beauty I find is Chef Dahl’s compelling story. As I drive into the parking area, the stunning red rocks give me a warm welcome. The restaurant stands alone like a trophy displayed among sprawling views of the massive mountains. It’s peaceful, it’s breathtaking, and it’s a reminder of how amazing our world is. I love Mariposa’s large covered patio. Its screens open wide to give guests the perfect view during their meal. I sit myself in the corner booth and waited for Chef Dahl to arrive. Within a few minutes, I see her walking towards me in her chefs coat, and she waves for me to move to the back table. She wants to be closer to the kitchen in case she’s needed. It’s lunchtime and guests start to filter into the restaurant. Before I know it, the place is packed. We escape into the kitchen, and she asks about my vision for the article’s pictures. I can tell she’s meticulous like a great chef needs to be, so I gently suggest we wait until the photographer gets here. Besides, I’m anxious to get started with the interview. We sit back down at the large high-topped table, and our server pours us water. I’m not sure what to expect from this renowned Chef, but I can tell by the way her staff acts around her, and by the way she talks to them that she is highly respected and cared for. I can also see that she is a strong woman and deserving of her success. She knows what she wants, she’s self-taught in the kitchen, and she’s driven by a powerful story to spread love. I ask her about her experience in the fashion industry as a child. “I grew up in the clothing business,” she says. “I was always in fashion. I look back at my clothing career, and when I was 1, my mother would

change my outfits five times a day. That stuck with me throughout the years.” “And what are your fashion rules today?” I ask. “My shtick is to be grubby by day and dress and express at night. My mom was my biggest influence. I was born in that retail atmosphere. In fact, just two weeks after my birth, she went back to work. I was toted around everywhere. Even as I got older, I was always into hospitality and loved helping people dress and find their right look. That was my whole career.” I’m fascinated by her fashion background and urge her to continue. She talks quickly about her fashion career and moving from Indianapolis to the Bay area. “I started working in boutiques and became a rep for clothing manufacturers. I even helped design accessories. For the last ten years that I was in fashion, I moved into footwear. I co-designed footwear out of Spain. I got to travel to all the fashion shows, and I was at the height of fashion.” She paused and smiled. “But I also adored food. That was always my dream, to have a restaurant.” Chef Dahl’s expression glows as she brings up her son in conversation. “I had my son, Justin, during this time. It was hard because I traveled too much and didn’t get to spend enough time with him. I was a single mom and a very young mom. I had him when I was 17, and I was a child raising a child. We learned as we went. Being a mom is hard, and back then the world was not as dangerous, I didn’t think.” Her demeanor changes and she looks out towards the mountains. “I always say, when that happened to Justin, that was the end of my innocence. I’ll never forget that song, I think it was by the Eagles, The End of Innocence. That was definitely when my world shattered.” I didn’t want to pry. I can’t imagine how painful it still is for her to tell this story, but Lisa continues. “He was being a good Samaritan. He just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He intervened in a street robbery that was taking place. He thought someone was taking a backpack from someone else. It was really a horrible diversion of sorts. It wasn’t just something that Justin thought looked really dangerous to this other person.

He met up with the wrong guy, and you know, he didn’t make it through.” She looks down. “It was horrible.” My eyes well up with tears as she speaks. The thought of losing your son at the young age of 17, or any age, is an unbearable thought. Chef Dahl takes a drink of her water. “I just felt that I couldn’t stay in that area anymore because we had grown up there together. You know, we moved from Indianapolis when he was in first grade. He went to first grade all the way through high school in Marin County, and everything was too much of a reminder.” I sat silently, not wanting to interrupt. I listened to Lisa and sensed her feelings in her words. “I just felt like it was time to start over. I was traveling in my footwear business, and it was impossible to continue to do what I was doing when I moved here to Sedona. I was trying to gather myself and fly out to see clients. I felt like a fish out of water.” In the hall, on the way to the bathroom, you’ll see two paintings side by side. A mother and her son. It’s a constant reminder of why she’s doing what she’s doing and that he’s always there with her. “After a year, my boyfriend and partner at the time found a location here in Sedona for the original restaurant, Dahl and DeLuca. I made a dedication to Justin, as I do in each of my restaurants. They all have a sense of purpose, and in some of them, you can feel an energy. Like in Dahl and DeLuca. People can really feel the presence of angels.” She pauses to fill up her water cup. “I feel Justin brought me here. Everything I’ve done more or less led up to this location, even without going after anything. That’s why I named this restaurant butterfly in Spanish. Mariposa, it’s about transformation and its meaning is very purposeful.” “I moved within a year from the Bay area to Sedona, in December of ‘95. I felt like I couldn’t go through the motions. It was just too sad being in all those places and being where it happened. I don’t remember more than just really wanting an answer on where I could go to feel comfortable and to begin to go through the healing process. I’d been to Sedona once before, but I never envisioned Arizona as a place that

Arizona Foodie


This page: Preparing the “I was so raw, I don’t even think I knew bar for guests. Right page: what I was doing in most respects.” Local citrus salad

From left: Pizza from Pisa Lisa, starter from Mariposa, pizza oven, Chef Dahl adding finishing touches, quesadilla from Mariposa

I would live. Sedona is different though, and it is very healing.” She scans the filled patio as if surveying the guests to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves. “Even though I have a hectic lifestyle, I do feel that this place is such a reminder that there’s a higher purpose to life, and to everything, and we’re not really in control.” Dahl points towards the red rocks. “Those mountains are your reminder that we are small. It’s such a special place, and I did spend a lot of time getting to know the area. I never came here thinking that I was going to open a restaurant. That wasn’t part of the agenda. I did love to cook, but the idea unfolded after about a year.” I asked her if it was like an unsettling feeling inside her or more like a nagging voice telling her she should open a restaurant and begin to cook for others. “I was so raw,” Chef Dahl answered. “I don’t even think I consciously knew what I was doing in most respects. I was simply putting one foot in front of the other and trying to keep my head

above water. Until I found my house here, I was just going through the motions. I only realize now how long it truly takes, I mean you never heal, but it takes on so many layers.” She’s trying to find the words to describe what she went through but I can tell she’s struggling. In reality, is there any way to explain that kind of loss to someone who has never experienced it? “I just recently uncovered a huge box of memorabilia that was in my garage. I couldn’t believe the earlier days as I went through the paper articles and all the things. I still couldn’t believe what had happened, how it affected me, and how I got through all of those things. It’s kind of a wonder.” She smiles and her voice takes on a positive tone. “Thanks to Sedona. I believe I made the right move. I miss his friends, but I think this was definitely planned on some universal level. I think it was meant to be that I would continue to touch lives through being his mom and through honoring his memory because it’s a healing process for others too. That’s what I find so poignant and cathartic, so many people who have also

lost children or a loved one - they come here hoping to get some kind of comfort. I end up meeting them and it always, for me, makes my tragedy come alive again, but then if I can be of some support, it’s a pretty amazing thing.” She pauses and wipes the condensation from her glass. “We have so many people coming from all over the world. I was thinking about it the other day, how I’ve met millions of people. We get over 300,000 guests a year, and I get out there and talk to the guests and listen to their stories. It goes on and on. I think about those numbers, and it’s overwhelming to think about the magnitude. Justin and I have created a little bit of magic here.” I agree with Chef Dahl. She has created something magical and inspiring. I ask about her first kitchen experience. “I always say, I was a very good amateur cook. I use to be the one that everyone would call to cater a party.” She laughs. “I catered my own wedding. I catered everyone’s parties. I had a great mother chef, grandmother chef and probably my biggest influence was my nanny. She was from Georgia,

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and she taught me how to cook soul food. Now I cook Italian and Latin soul food. It’s no different. It’s the same approach. We keep our cooking very simple and very natural. I used to cook a lot as a teenager, and I always thought that Justin and I would have a restaurant together.” Chef Dahl starts to talk about one of her longer relationships. The same man that moved to Sedona with her from the Bay area. “I started to cook with Andrea. He’s a professional Italian Chef, a fabulous chef, but quite a dramatic character to say the least. He was the typical Italian from Rome, bad boy, with lots of emotion, macho but with a heart of gold. The one thing about him is that he had a magical touch with his sauté style. To this day, we use the same delicate approach to our sauté dishes. It’s a fast sauté, without overdoing things.” I can feel her excitement as she tells me about her early days in the kitchen. “Back then, I was a sous chef, and I taught myself how to be one by just doing what I did at home. The restaurant was a small 100 seat restaurant, and I held my own with Andrea in the kitchen. When we started, I only had one other woman in the kitchen with me at Dahl and DeLuca. I taught her how to cook.” “My partner would take all the @azfoodie 32

credit, but he remembered to boost my confidence, and we both knew I was a darn good cook. He would tell me that the sauce I made was better than his Sous Chef in California. However, when it comes to how the world views a women Chef and a man, I was doing all the work, and he was getting all the glory. I was in the back working my ass off day after day, answering the phone, taking the reservations, stirring my sauce and calling the purveyors. I couldn’t let anybody understand what was really going on because I was afraid that we could lose our restaurant.” “When I wrote my first book, my father had just passed away, and I was heart sick. One day I just wanted to write and cleanse my soul. I had planned to go to Tuscany, and it was my hope that the travel would prepare me to write. The minute I got on the plane, I had a notebook in hand, and I started to purge my heart. I let go of the partnership with Andrea. I had to finally find my own identity. I had to be who I am. I had to have my own voice.” A server delivers several dishes to the table next to us. She pauses and looks at what they are served. She pardons herself and goes to speak with them. When she returns, she tells me she was checking to make sure that the dishes were how they wanted it. She continues. “When I finally

said, it’s time to write my book, it wasn’t to air my grievances, it was just to say what I do here. I wrote it from the foundations of what makes a gourmet restaurant. I was also sharing what makes me tick, what I think about, and the passion of cooking for healing purposes.” Her expression glows as she talks about her experiences with guests and how much of a connection she feels Justin has to it all. “I feel like what is drawing people to us is that they can taste the love that is in the food. When people come up to me in any of the restaurants, they tell me that they can feel the intention and love through the food they’re eating. It’s a huge commitment because the only way you can retain that through all the restaurants is to exemplify that everything you do counts. You must be mindful of each aspect.” We begin to round out the interview, and I ask her about her future plans. “I’m analyzing the future. This year has been so interesting because I’ve started to go inside of myself to figure out where this drive comes from. Why do I want more and why do I want restaurants in other places? I dream of restaurants the way that people dream of houses. I don’t know what it is, but it’s some little thing inside of me. It’s what this brand represents that each concept

has a quality that doesn’t exist in this world right now.” “I’m taking steps in my personal and professional life to prepare for that expansion. Also, I do want to meet a man again that will be the right man this time. That means I have to be available, and that’s why my last relationship of 13 years was a struggle. I think I’ll find someone that will be okay with me being in the restaurants and will love me for who I am. It isn’t that I’m living for this idea, I just feel it. I feel very much that I will meet someone that will love me unconditionally and won’t want to change me.” Chef Dahl seems eager to get back into the kitchen with her staff. They are having an exceptionally busy day, especially for lunchtime. “In the restaurant, I’m considered the mom and I stay connected with all 240 of my employees. I’m very proud of it, and it’s not easy. I’m laughing about it these days and starting to realize that this is not an easy business and it’s ok to cut myself some slack.” I give her a hug and she walks off towards the kitchen. It’s inspiring to see how much Chef Dahl has had to overcome in her personal life. It’s even more powerful to see how she has turned such tragedy into success. It’s a great reminder to never give up. Mariposa Latin Inspired Gril 700 AZ-89A, Sedona, AZ 86336 Dahl & Di Luca 2321 AZ-89A, Sedona, AZ 86336 Pisa Lisa 2245 AZ-89A, Sedona, AZ 86336

No Travel Necessary You’ll find this resort in Arizona’s backyard

Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort has breathtaking mountain vista views, fine dining, beautiful water features, an onsite spa, and world-class golf. This resort is not a far drive for most, and it’s located in Central Phoenix on 7th St., North of Dunlap. The resort has three different restaurants. Cascades Cafe is for casual dining, while the Pointe in Thyme Grille is a local favorite. My personal favorite is the Different Pointe of View, a destination dining venue for 31 years. You don’t have to stay at the resort to get a taste of this fine dining experience. Perched on top of a steep hill you’ll find one of the best views in Phoenix. You’ll be greeted and served by a stellar staff, and Chef Anthony Demuro will be preparing your exquisite dishes in the kitchen.  Different Pointe of View is one of my top spots to recommend to friends and followers. In fact, I always seem to

end up there on my birthday. If you’re looking for a romantic meal, a special occasion meal or just a meal and view to take your breath away. This is the restaurant for you. I’ll never forget the first time I met Chef Demuro. We were partaking in a wine dinner, and he was cooking for fifteen of us. However, it wasn’t in the kitchen. He prepared all the courses in the dining room, and on a makeshift kitchen space with a couple of burners. I was impressed by his calm demeanor. He made his dishes look as if they were prepared with ease. A warm and mellow vibe flowed off of him. It’s probably one of the reasons that he has high employee retention in his restaurant.  He once told me that he prefers to have staff that has very little or no experience. “They’re easier to train that way,” he said.

I admired the floor to ceiling windows and adored the view. Chef Demuro also shared with me his love of taking pictures. You’ll find daily pictures on Chef’s FB page of the specials that he runs each night. What you might not know, is his photography skills are not limited to food. In fact, he’s captured some exceptional shots of storms rolling into town as well as an array of animal pictures. Chef says he has a special connection with nature. With his energy, I have no doubt. Next time you’re looking for a new spot to try. Stop by and visit Chef Demuro. You can’t go wrong with anything you order on the menu. I highly suggest that you save room for dessert though. The pastry Chef does a spectacular job of satisfying my sweet tooth! Different Pointe Of View 11111 North 7th Street Phoenix, Arizona 85020

by Diana Brandt Photography by Chanelle Sinclair Arizona Foodie


by Diana Brandt Photography by Chanelle Sinclair

d a o R ip r T 36


Sedona While walking on the main street right by the resort, we suggest stopping into The Sedona Fudge Company. You’ll find Mackinac Island Fudge, Handmade Chocolates, Grandma Horr’s Homebaked Cookies and so much more! We also think the Black Cow Cafe is worth a taste. They have housemade pies, hot dogs & ice cream in unique flavors such as prickly pear.

With its perfect scenery and endless options for hiking, Sedona is a local favorite to visit. Driving only takes a couple of hours and you can enjoy a perfect getaway for a weekend or an extended stay.  The majestic scenery draws the most people, but I’m all about the food scene. I’m sure plenty of new spots will continue to pop up but until then, here’s where we suggest you stay and play.


100 Amara Lane, Sedona, AZ 86336 Nestled in the bustling main street of Sedona, there’s a long steep hill down to a cute little resort with a perfect view of the mountains. Amara’s 100 guestrooms and suites have a modern native feel, which was the idea behind their new eclectic décor. You’ll find detailed accents including colors matching the lush foliage and the brilliant desert flowers and headboard made of local fallen trees that vary from room to room. Enjoy the breathtaking views from the beautiful patio at SaltRock Southwest Kitchen. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the restaurant offers

fresh, seasonal takes on traditional regional cuisine. SaltRock delivers Southwest style with the finest Verde Valley ingredients. An agave-focused beverage program which takes the art of the margarita to a new level of creative sophistication enhances your experience and gives you an authentic Sedona style in a fun, refreshing drink. Might we suggest the grilled octopus with patatas bravas, chimichurri, frisée, sunny side up egg, or the tender New York strip sirloin with braised short rib, salsa huevona, parsnip-plantain puree, and fried parsnip? Wanting to try something different? Try the soft shell crab with huitlacoche Purée, Jalapeño Gel, Guanciale Chip, Frisée, and Mustard Vinaigrette?

Arizona Foodie


From Top Left: Dellepiane Owner Tomas Agostino, special sign on the way, fries rioja style topped with eggs, empanadas and dellepiane burger.

Give us all the burgers from Dellepiane! This restaurant is slightly hidden from the main road, but that’s what the owner, Tomas Agostino wanted. His original location in Buenos Aires is down a side alley. Before opening his restaurant in Buenos Aires, people told him that an alleyway wasn’t an ideal spot for a restaurant. “The location would scare customers off,” they said. But his heart urged him to move forward. It was the best decision he could have made. Good thing he listened to his gut feeling because it’s been a huge success. You’ll even find a mural of the original restaurant on the wall in the Sedona location. 38


Agostino’s burger shop hasn’t been open long, but it’s already created quite a buzz. We stopped in for a taste, and it was clear why people loved it! The burgers are bursting with flavor. How could you resist the Dellepiane burger with pecan smoked bacon, Tillamook cheddar, grilled provolone, caramelized onions, pickles, Dellepiane sauce and bbq sauce with a side of sweet potato fries, topped with curry mint sauce?  Not a meat eater? Try his amazing veggie burger made from chickpeas and peanut butter with a sweet chili sauce! You can also enjoy the vegetarian empanadas, sandwiches, and other starters. Take my word for it. You need to make this a definite stop. I’m counting down the days until I can go back to Sedona and have another bite.  Dellepiane 617 AZ-179, Sedona, AZ 86336

From left: Chef Jeff Smedstad, featured tequilla flight, elote starter, goat cheese balls, artwork on the wall.

Elote Cafe is attached to a little hotel on the side of the main street through Sedona. You will likely find that it has a line out the front door, but I can guarantee it’s well worth the wait. The restaurant no longer takes reservations. Chef Jeff Smedstad told us that some customers treated his workers harshly. He once witnessed a customer screaming at his hostess because the customer saw an open table which happened to be reserved for an arriving guest. Chef Jeff cares deeply for his employees, so removing reservations was the best option.  I knew very little about Chef Jeff before chatting with him at the restaurant.  I didn’t want to take up too much of his time because the restaurant was about to open. I flat out asked him what his biggest struggle was.  He cleared his throat. “There’s been things throughout my career. I overcame a lot of stuff to open Elote but I don’t want to talk about it because it’s super personal.” I didn’t want to pry. I respect that certain things are quite personal, but I encouraged him to continue. “I had a restaurant in Scottsdale

that was my life, and when I walked away from it, I never thought this would happen again. That was the greatest challenge. When I came to Sedona, I had the most single-minded focus that I’ve ever had in my life. I think that what happened in Scottsdale helped me get there.” People begin to line up outside. I can see the hungry anticipation in their eyes. Chef Jeff continues. “When I got here I was living in a storage room. I showed up with a dog and some furniture. I had no encumbrances. All I wanted was to cook and prove myself and have the world see what I could do again.” I tried to picture the difficulty of living in a storage room. I’m sure he could see the shock on my face, but he continued telling me his story. “To get to that point, every day is emotional. It’s stupid, you know, people write books, and they say every day is a gift. For me, every day really is a gift because most people don’t get to do what they want twice. I had people screaming at me when I left the restaurant in Scottsdale. People that said they would never talk to me again. I left for very deep and personal reasons that

made sense to me.“ He paused and looked around the restaurant. “When my mom first walked in here, she cried and said, ‘You blew it, what did you do?’ At the time, the hotel was in tatters. They gave me the best deal in the world, and they gave me a little room to sleep in. It was everything I needed, so I didn’t care, it was like food camp. I got the chance to build this up into what it is today.” “I already have everything in life that I’ve ever wanted. When I get someone like Juan, and I’m able to give him a position that transforms his life. Then I see that his kids and family are now able to be taken care of, that’s the reward and that’s no BS, that’s true.”  I can testify that Chef Jeff Smedstad has created a stellar restaurant. He has had an amazing journey that has led him to his success. Chef is putting out another, more personal cookbook called the Notebook. You can get your copy in a couple of months.  Elote Cafe 771 AZ-179, Sedona, AZ 86336

Arizona Foodie



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