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A World Renowned Rum

What if I told you that the world’s finest rum was distilled in the small Arizona hamlet of Elgin?

Don’t take the distiller’s word for it. Pay attention to those whose palates are widely regarded as the best on the planet.

In my Inside Tucson Business column this week, I sat down with a local spirits sophisticate whose name is now trending on the global liquor scene.

Check out my story here and let me know your thoughts!


Memorial Service for Frankie Santos

The life of longtime Tucson restaurateur Francis “Frankie Cheesesteak” Santos will be on August 18 from 2:00 – 5:00 pm at the Elks Lodge 385, located at 1800 N. Oracle Road.

From the invitation:

“No one was ever a stranger to Frankie – he loved and was loved by many for his love of life and great martinis and his dedication to excellence at his namesake restaurant Frankie’s South Philly Cheesesteaks. Everyone has a Frankie story – we invite you to share yours as we gather to celebrate the life of this extraordinary man.”


Until we meet again, Frankie

RIP, Frankie Santos.

The Tucson community lost one of its most beloved members of the local food scene last week.

In my Inside Tucson Business column this week, I offer a tribute to a man whose story was best told by the life he lived.

Check out my story here.


A Taste Bud Time Warp

What is it about the early 1800s that make its culinary traditions real and relevant to us today?

How can the 1950s find context in today’s foodie lexicon?

And what about those glorious 1980s? What was happening in the food-sphere that pulled our attention away from MTV, if only for a minute?

Get ready to transport your taste buds back in time this Sunday at the Carriage House when nearly 30 local chefs come together for a collaborative dinner that will pay tribute to the culinary trends of bygone ages.

Sponsored by the Gastronomic Union of Tucson, affectionately known as GUT, the Time Warp Dinner will begin with a welcome cocktail, followed by five distinct and era-inspired moments with companion beverages.


Hors d’œuvre (1950’s)

Salmon mousse, chicharron, cucumber kimchi, salmon roe

Rumaki – brûlée pork belly, chicken liver mousse, Asian pear

Coronation chicken deviled egg

Ceviche aspic, avocado mousse, Tajin shrimp


First Course (1970’s)

Not Your Grandma’s Cheese Ball

spice whipped cream cheese + english cheddar, tomatillo + summer herb coulis,

crispy butter toasted croutons, asiago crackers


Second Course (1980’s)

Pablo Prudhombre

Blackened Sea of Cortez Cabrilla, maque choux terrine with Southwestern accent,

lemon butter sauce, rocket


Third Course (1960’s)

Mesquite Beef Cheek Bourguignon

lingerie potatoes, carrot confit, sweet onion puree,

truffle glazed mushrooms


Fourth Course (1810’s)

Sonoran Mille Feuille

mesquite puff pastry, prickly pear pastry cream quince, pomegranate gel,

candied orange, bahidaj sitol meringue


Tickets for this epic July 28 feast are $75 each and can be purchased here!


Anchovy Activism

To anchovy or not to anchovy? That is the question, and those of you who know me are well aware of where I stand on this issue.

But where do you stand?

In my Inside Tucson Business column this week, I took on this topic with a Tucson pizza pioneer who has a dedicated following of anchovy activists.

Check out my story here and let me know your thoughts!


Masterbuilt on my Side

When I purchased my first Masterbuilt smoker more than 10 years ago, little did I know that I would one day be appointed as a Masterbuilt national brand ambassador.

My interest in this company and its products came from a place of trust. It was my belief in a promise that convenience and confidence can co-exist on the BBQ smoking scene. I watched far too many people fight with fire and tussle with temperature in pursuit of perfectly smoked brisket, ribs, pork butt, chicken, and other foods. I found myself beginning to buy in to the myth that the fight would be mine to take up if I wanted to succeed. That the struggle would never cease. That surrender would be my only play.

But surrender has no place in BBQ (other than those beautiful moments when the meat ultimately surrenders to the smoke, of course) and I wasn’t about to add my voice to the false narrative that BBQ always comes with frustration, pain, and sacrifice.

That’s what drew me to the peace of mind that Masterbuilt offers. The ability to produce an exceptional BBQ experience, fueled by real wood, that yields real smoke, in a way that gives me full control over time and temp. A modern expression of an age-old practice.  So I bought a Masterbuilt Smokehouse, who I named Sally, and she’s faithfully served my family to this very day.

Convenience and confidence, and Sally, for the win.

Most of my BBQ comrades know that my loyalty to this brand has been unyielding ever since. And today, in celebration of BBQ’s tradition and spirit of bringing people together, I’m excited to share that I’ve just been appointed as one of Masterbuilt’s national brand ambassadors.

It will be my honor to represent a company, a community, and a culture that I’ve supported for more than a decade.

It’s true that I’m a regular fixture at BBQ joints across Southern Arizona and beyond. There are many pit masters whose artistry is worthy of celebration. But when I’m home, and when I want a sensational smoke, I know that I can do it and do it well.

Why? Because I have Masterbuilt on my side.


Bastille Day: Old Memories, New Traditions

Thirty-seven years ago this week, I was preparing for my Bastille Day performance at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

This memorable moment in the City of Lights was part of America’s Youth in Concert, an orchestra, band, and choir comprised of high school students from across the United States that toured Europe during the summer of 1982. I was a percussionist. I practiced for months before my audition. And when the notification came that I had made it, I realized that I would soon be performing in Carnegie Hall, in London and other European cities, and, yes, steps away from the altar inside the Notre Dame Cathedral. In Paris. On Bastille Day.

About to board the buses for our Bastille Day concert.

This stop on our 11-city tour was my introduction to French cuisine, culture, and, truth be told, Champagne. That we were all in our teens didn’t seem to stop us as we sipped alongside the local celebrants later that evening at the base of the Eiffel Tower.

As I boarded the bus the next morning en route to concerts in Florence and Rome, my memories of croissants, baguettes, Camembert, and Brie went right along with me.

Thankfully there’s a way to celebrate the traditions of Bastille Day in Tucson, and Coralie Satta, who hails from Marseille, has everything covered at Ghini’s French Caffe.

This Friday and Saturday from 3:00 – 8:00 pm, her Le Jour de la Bastille will feature a special three-course menu with delicious options to choose from. Some of the dishes that caught my eye include the Soupe A L’oignon, Boeuf Bourguignon, and the Bleu Blanc Rouge Shortcake. Ghini’s will also feature $6 French Mimosas all weekend long. You can make reservations by calling 326-9095.

Coralie and me! Yes, I kept my yearbooks.

It seems fitting that my first experience with French culture was during high school. That’s because Coralie Satta and I went to high school together!

While the record isn’t clear, it’s entirely possible that we may have sipped some Champagne together as teens nearly four decades ago. Sorry, mom.

A votre sante!


Kyle Jefferson’s Coconuts

Brewer Kyle Jefferson has loved coconuts ever since his first Mounds bar as a kid, and now he’s celebrating the nostalgic nature of this tropical tree nut in his taproom on a fairly regular basis.

In my Inside Tucson Business column this week, I crack open this story about what these island flavors bring to one of Tucson’s hottest breweries.

Check out my story here and let me know your thoughts!


An Ode to a Lovable Rogue

Iconic foodie, adventurist, and best-selling author Anthony Bourdain would have celebrated his 63rd birthday tomorrow. Though his passing last year continues to take its toll on many a Tucson tastemaker, my friends at Ten55 Brewing and Sausage House will be marking the day with an ode to this man whom the Chicago Tribune once called “a lovable rogue.”

Inspired by Bourdain’s widely chronicled love of the Provincetown Seafood Cookbook, Chef Zach Ghidotti will be serving a Portuguese kale soup that he created with wisdom drawn from one of the recipes in the book.

The star of the soup will be a hand-made linguica sausage from the gifted hands of Tucson butcher Ben Forbes of Forbes Meat Company. It will be served with fresh bread made by Tucson baker and international carbohydrate celebrity Don Guerra of Barrio Bread, who used some of Ten55’s spent grains in his doughy diapason.

A portion of the soup’s sales will support suicide prevention awareness at the National Alliance on Mental Illness Southern Arizona, and some of Bourdain’s most beloved broadcasts will be screened at Ten55 throughout the day as well.

This Ghidotti-Forbes-Guerra collaboration is the kind of thing that Bourdain would have loved. He often said that “you learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together,” and when tastemakers share their gifts so that we can share a meal, the true spirit of togetherness shines.

Let’s get together for some Portuguese kale soup on June 25 and raise a few pints to this lovable rogue!


Food Media BBQ Throwdown III

The dust has settled after the annual BBQ battle among local food journalists, and this year’s protein, beef brisket, was prepared and plated in distinctly delicious ways by the three competing teams.

In my Inside Tucson Business column this week, I give you a behind the scenes look at their strategies!

Check out my story here and let me know your thoughts!