Gone are the days of bland continental buffets and dry chicken breasts at your hotel's diner. More and more, talented Valley chefs are decamping from standalone restaurants to helm the kitchens of Phoenix's impressive hotels and resorts. But that's old news to Charles Wiley, who's been churning out impossibly fresh, creative and expertly made food at Valley resort restaurants for years.
With more than 40 years of experience under his belt, Wiley’s list of accolades is impressive: Food & Wine magazine named him one of “The Ten Best New Chefs in America,” and the James Beard Foundation recognized him as “One of the Best Hotel Chefs of America.” He worked for a decade at The Boulders before opening Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort in 2001. He went down the road to run the Hotel Valley Ho’s dining program in 2005 and opened the revamped Mountain Shadow Resort’s signature restaurant Hearth ’61 as executive chef and director of food and beverage earlier this year.
PHOENIX recently caught up with Wiley to chat about opening a new restaurant, how the Valley’s culinary landscape has changed since he first arrived, and the current trend of why so many top local chefs are working at hotels.*
To raise awareness and funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Chompie’s is partnering with Singleton Moms, an Arizona-based nonprofit organization that supports single-parent families affected by cancer.
During September, Chompie’s will donate $1 to Singleton Moms from each entrée ordered from the deli’s special three-item menu, which includes Josh’s Whole Grain French Toast, Classic Grandpa Ruby’s Reuben and the Fitness Omelet.
French toast is one of those breakfast items that most people tend to order in restaurants rather than make at home. The folks at Taco Guild whip up a mean coconut French toast for their Saturday and Sunday brunch, but market chef Dan Santos has gladly shared the recipe for those who want to try their hand at griddling the bread at home.
If you’ve stopped by The Phoenician lately, you’ve probably noticed that the grand dame of Scottsdale resorts is undergoing a major renovation. Along with a new lobby and bar, spa and pool area, the hotel will be replacing the longstanding Il Terrazzo restaurant with a more casual concept, Mowry & Cotton, named after two gents who opened one of Phoenix’s first fine liquor establishment (or so the legend goes).
You know the saying, “there’s always room for dessert”? Looks like the same stomach-expanding sentiment can be used in reference to real estate in one of Phoenix’s most sought-after zip codes… even if the dessert itself is meh. I guess that explains Jello.
Oh, Sprinkles red velvet cupcakes, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: Regular, sugar-free and gluten-free. Yes, our celiac-brethren can now enjoy these moist sweet bombs, or even make them at home.
Valley food blogger Joanie Simon is about to make her Food Network debut – with Guy Fieri in tow, no less. But she’s not chowing down with the ebullient host at a drive-in, diner or dive. Instead, Fieri has her scurrying through the aisles of a grocery store.
Simon will appear on an episode of Guy’s Grocery Games, airing this Sunday, August 13, at 6 p.m. ET. For the uninitiated, the show features four chefs competing against each other in a grocery store set stocked with premium ingredients. In every 30-minute episode, each contestant shops for and prepares a dish, which is then judged. The last chef standing at the end gets two minutes to shop for items on a list, and wins a grand prize of $20,000 if he or she can find them all.
PHOENIX recently caught up with Simon, whose episode was shot last November, to talk about the stress of live food competition and whether Guy is really as wacky as he seems on TV.
Downtown Phoenix has just added another culinary luminary to its roster: James Beard award-winning Chef Alex Stratta has recently taken over as culinary director at MATCH: Restaurant & Cocktails inside the chic and arty FOUND:RE Hotel.
Stratta’s storied career includes stints at Mary Elaine’s at The Phoenician, ALEX and Stratta restaurants inside the Wynn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, as well as Prado at the Omni Montelucia Resort in Scottsdale. His accomplishments include a coveted two-star rating by the Michelin Guide (three times over, in fact, for his namesake restaurant ALEX in Las Vegas) and Stratta was once named Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef.
First on his to-do list at MATCH is to completely revamp the menu, which skewed to a "global street food" theme (and didn't wow our dining critic). Ahead of Stratta's menu debut in September, PHOENIX caught up with the guy who most recently raised eyebrows by hanging his hat at the respectable but decidedly un-showy and non-James Beard-y The Herb Box.
By the time August rolls around, Phoenicians have had it with brutal hot days. But August also brings a different kind of heat – Hatch chile season, that two- to three-month window when the flavorful, tear-inducing peppers from New Mexico are harvested and plentiful. Z’Tejas Southwestern Kitchen recently rolled out its annual Hatch chile menu that boasts everything from chile and watermelon gazpacho to pecan pie with green chile ice cream. Also on the menu – poached cod with Hatch chile sauce.
The Hatch chile menu will run through Oct. 31, according to Z’ Tejas Market Chef Dan Santos, but if you’d like to try making the cod at home, he has shared the recipe with PHOENIX magazine. When shopping for the fish, Santos advises buying pieces that are no thicker than two inches: “Any more than that, the bottom of the fish is going to burn and the top isn’t going to cook all the way through.”
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