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Tales of the Keg on ESPN Tucson: Barrio Brewing Co.


In this edition of Tales of the Keg on ESPN, I caught up with Dennis Arnold of Barrio Brewing Company, the oldest craft brewery in the state of Arizona. He had some sudsy stories to tell including a new commemorative beer to celebrate the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl!



Our (for now) finale!

After approximately 500 weekly shows, over nearly ten years, on four radio stations, we’re taking a break. Our host radio station sold and is changing formats. So this week’s show was our last, for now, and it came to you live from a standing-room-only Jonathan’s Cork! This was a special two-hour, commercial-free show and we caught up with several local food and beverage celebs who shared their thoughts on our delicious radio journey.

Our sincere thanks go to our loyal and loving sponsors and listeners, our fabulous crew at KQTH, and our extended family of local chefs, restaurateurs, brewers, distillers, winemakers, and sommeliers whose stories we’ve had the privilege to tell over the years. Simply said, we love what we do because they love what they do. There’s no finer food and beverage community in the world.



Hamilton is making news all across the country. But we’re not talking about the musical. We’re talking about the malt, and Hamilton’s Tucson headquarters was the destination for this week’s show dedicated to the Sonoran soul of the single malt – live from the barrel room at Hamilton Distillers!

Ramon Olivas, Ben Forbes, Matt Russell & Hamilton founder Stephen Paul

Our celebrity co-host was local butcher Ben Forbes of Forbes Meat Co. who talked about his own passion for whiskey and the role it plays in the butchering arts. He even brought along the hind leg of a pig to demonstrate the perfection of prosciutto and single malt pairings. We then welcomed Casino Del Sol’s executive pastry chef Gina Skelton who had some sweet news to share about her life-size gingerbread house.

Prosciutto and single malt whiskey. Pairing perfection!

Then it was time for local malt master and Hamilton’s assistant distiller Ramon Olivas to join the party, with some fresh news about his annual Winter Release, the company’s growth plans, his barrel program, and the core expressions of Whiskey Del Bac in his portfolio – Classic, Dorado, and Clear. Slainte!


Proof Positive

In this weekend following Thanksgiving, we knew that you’d be looking for something other than turkey. And we had all the proof you needed on this live broadcast from Proof Artisanal Pizza & Pasta!

Chef John Hohn, Alec Marsh, Matt Russell, Grant Kreuger & Chef Anthony Coluci

Our celebrity co-host was 2014 Iron Chef of Tucson John Hohn of Gap Ministries, who spoke about the work being done that’s making a difference in the lives of others. We also welcomed beer industry celeb Caleigh Snyder who chatted about her new blog, “Hold My Beer.” We sipped into the next segment with Proof bar manager Alec Marsh, who discussed his cocktail program along with a favorite Old World wine that pairs perfectly with pizza.

The mushroom pizza, with garlic crema, roasted mushrooms, goat cheese, Grana Padano, scallions, and truffle oil. That’s Proof!

Executive Chef Anthony Coluci then shared some stories about the artisanal approach to pizza and pasta, and owner Grant Kreuger talked about a creative way to tie each of his three concepts in St. Philip’s Plaza together!

Proof is a palate-worthy culinary and cocktail experience!



Steaks, Sinatra & Cigars

Three things that make our world go ’round are prime steaks, a Sinatra soundtrack, and premium cigars. And they all aligned on this weekend’s live broadcast from Bob’s Steak & Chop House at the Omni Tucson National Resort!

Jeff White, Matt Russell, Chef Mark Evanoff, Thom Wadlund, Chef Jonathan Stutzman & Josh Rockwell

Our celebrity co-host was our resident Scotch mentor Thom Wadlund, who took us on a waltz around the malts and offered his picks for seasonal Scotches. We also caught up with Jeff Reisinger of Adventurous Stills Distilling in Tempe, who talked about a new limited-release, cask-aged rum. Omni general manager Jeff White then announced his plans for a Duckhorn Vineyards wine dinner. Quack-worthy, of course! We were also joined by Chef Mark Evanoff of Bob’s and the Omni’s Executive Chef Jonathan Stutzman, who got us current with the delicious things happening property-wide, including the upcoming 10th anniversary of Bob’s.

We tasted through some spectacular dishes on this show!

Our tasting featured a landscape of culinary love, with a lobster and mushroom risotto, a 9-ounce prime meatball, fried calamari, and the iconic Cote du Boeuf ribeye steak!

See you soon at Bob’s!


Crime & Craft

Gangster John Dillinger made headlines in the 1930s by robbing banks and evading law enforcement with his crew, the Dillinger Gang. And we hung out with another Dillinger Gang on this weekend’s show at a place where the stories of crime and craft beer collide…Dillinger Brewing Company!

Eric Sipe, Matt Russell, Kyle Blessinger, David Martin & Aaron Long

Our celebrity co-host was Charro Steak bar man Kyle Blessinger, who offered his perspectives on the local craft brew scene as well as other spirituous news. David Martin of Red Desert BBQ sat down with us as well to talk turkey, literally, and his smoking hot idea for your Thanksgiving bird. Dillinger’s Eric Sipe then announced some breaking news about a commemorative brew that they’re crafting to offer help and hope to those in need during the holidays. Sipe’s business partner Aaron Long also joined the growing party with some stories about Dillinger Brewing Company’s story, concept, and brewing philosophy.

Dillinger takes flight!

He offered a flight as Exhibit A, with four beautiful brews ranging from light and bright to big and boozy.

Channel your inner gangster and get over to Dillinger!



Rockabilly Pre-Game

It goes without saying that all great parties start with an epic pre-game, and we pre-gamed in style on this live broadcast from Loews Ventana Canyon Resort as the clock ticked down for their first annual Rockabilly & Blues BBQ!

One of the Rockabilly & Blues BBQ culinary stations: Top Knot Farms chicken suspended over a live fire by chain cables!

Our guests included just a few of the local farmers and purveyors who brought their best to this evening under the starts, including Michael Muthart of Top Knot Farms, Rod Miller of E&R Pork, and Todd and Sherry Martin of Tucson Tamale Company. We also caught up with Chef Ryan Clark, of Casino Del Sol, who revealed the latest on his upcoming Arizona Farm & Food Festival, and Aaron Wolf, of the

One of two 180-pound hogs that was smoked for guests at the Rockabilly & Blues BBQ!

Flying V Bar & Grill at Loews Ventana Canyon, who unveiled some of the new seasonal dishes that are stars of his new fall menu!

What a way to shake, rattle, and roll!


Fall’s Favor & Flavor

Fall is harvest season in the wine world, and this was a great context for sharing our passion for grapes, and the fall flavors that complement them, on this live broadcast from Maynard’s Market & Kitchen, the home of Tucson’s Iron Chef!

Greg Shepard, Matt Russell, Will Olendorf & Iron Chef Brian Smith

Our celebrity co-host was wine authority Greg Shepard of Breakthru Beverage, who talked about the kinds of wines that he’s grooving on this fall. We also caught up with famed California winemaker Bob Blue of 1000 Stories Wines, who shared some fascinating small-batch stories about aging Zins in bourbon barrels. Will Olendorf, sommelier at Maynard’s, joined the conversation as well with information on his upcoming Grapes to Glass event, and Iron Chef Brian Smith revealed his perspectives on fall with a look at his new fall menu.

New on the Maynard’s fall menu: Crispy pork belly with barbecued tepary beans, Swiss chard, bread and butter cauliflower, and smoked bread crumbs. Boom!

True comfort at the center of the plate!


For Immediate Release

“For Immediate Release!” This is the standard element of a press release that indicates to its media recipients that news can be shared the moment that it’s received, and we released some news about a brand new beer that was officially released on this live broadcast from Dragoon Brewing Company!

Tristan White, Matt Russell, Ken Harvey & C.J. Hamm

Our celebrity co-host was fellow foodie and loyalist on the local libation scene C.J. Hamm, who got us current with news from Saguaro Corners and Mulligans. We then caught up with Chef Ken Harvey of Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, who shook, rattled, and rolled-out all the details for his upcoming Rockabilly & Blues BBQ. Casking was all the buzz as well, especially when we sat down with Dragoon’s own Brittni Rawlins who presided over Cask Conditioning 101.

The latest release from Dragoon…Frosty Friends!

And then came Tristan White, Dragoon co-founder and manager, who briefed us on things making news in his west side Tucson tap room,including the just-released Frosty Friends, an American Pale Ale they crafted in collaboration with Finley Distributing.




Windy City Wisdom

Chicago Cubs fans were experiencing some Windy City woes this week, so what better place to heal those wounds than at the destination for this week’s show, Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria!

Herb Stratford, Matt Russell & Rocco DiGrazia

Our celebrity co-host was Herb Stratford, a classic pepperoni guy and director of Film Fest Tucson who revealed some of the fun films in the line-up for his third annual event. We also sat down with veteran Rocco’s manager Evan Stevens, who talked about some of the beverages that were trending behind the bar including old school brews, modern craft brews, and signature cocktails! And then the righteousness of Rocco’s took center stage when Rocco DiGrazia himself, the pride of Chicago’s south side, joined us as we launched National Pizza Month in style!

The “Kitchen Sink” deep dish pizza. There are no words.

We talked about the wisdom of the Windy City that was symbolized by deep dish pizza, Midwestern thin pizza, wings like none other, and a spaghetti and meatballs plate that was inspired by Rocco’s late grandma Marinara Marian.

We’ll see yous guys at Rocco’s!