Recipes for Success: 2019 Arizona Good Food Expo Speakers
Sourcing local food is one of the best ways to support Arizona’s farmers, feed your family and customers good food, and strengthen the community and economy around you.
Meet the 2019 Arizona Good Food Expo speakers who will be sharing their experiences and insights about how to cultivate, maintain, and strengthen partnerships across the food industry to bring customers the best food our state has to offer:
Chef John Panza - BiGA by Senses
Chef John is an Arizona native, born of Lebanese/Italian descent. His upbringing helped forge his love of food, as most family gatherings were centered around the dining room table. After studying Culinary Arts at Scottsdale Community College, one of my first professional ventures was his role as Executive Sous Chef with Phoenix’s longest-tenured, Four-Diamond restaurant, “Different Pointe of View” at the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort. He diversified his career when he traveled to San Diego where he worked as the Chef de Cuisine of Vela at the Hilton San Diego Bay Front Hotel. There he was able to expand his culinary knowledge and experience.
He later returned to Arizona where he worked as Executive Chef of Capital Canyon Club in Prescott. He helped establish the most prestigious private golf course clubhouse in Northern Arizona by implementing a modern food and beverage program, unique to Prescott. There he met his wife, Cassandra and after a year of working at the club, they realized the need for something new in Prescott and with “pop-p” dinners being the fastest growing culinary trend at the time, they decided to bring these dinners to Northern Arizona. Together they created SENSES, a unique restaurant concept.
They found great success in these dinners but knew they needed a place to call “home,” a brick and mortar restaurant. Alongside their “pop-up” dining venture, both Chef John and Cassandra worked at BiGA, a local hotspot that focused on a home-style fare. They hosted their popular “Restaurant Takeovers” at BiGA on nights when the restaurant was normally closed. The owners of the restaurant saw the passion and skills they exhibited those evenings and were blown away. Already planning on selling their business, BiGA owners decided Chef John and Cassandra were the ones they wanted to sell their business to. After eight months of dealing with the bank, they finally signed the paperwork for their VERY OWN restaurant!!
Shanti Rade - Whipstone Farm
Shanti Rade owns and operates Whipstone Farm with her husband in Paulden, Arizona just north of Prescott. They have a mixed vegetable and cut-flower operation and are going on 20 years in business. Starting with just a 1/4 acre plot in their backyard and selling door-to-door around their neighborhood, they have grown their business steadily over the years. They currently have 18 acres in production, with about 12 seasonal employees (not including their 3 kids, who sort of help out, but not really). They have a modified year round growing season and sell at farmers markets, through their own CSA program, to several multi-farm CSA’s, and wholesale to local restaurants, grocery and florists.
Shanti came into farming by chance through a high school internship. She fell in love with growing food and later went to college and earned a degree in agro-ecology. She traveled and worked on quite a few different farms before she met her husband, Cory, who as luck would have it, already owned a farm. Shanti contributes to a thriving local food and farming community not only as a grower, but through teaching, lecturing and serving on non-profit boards.
While Shanti helps manage the diverse enterprises on the farm, she is most passionate about the flowers. You can often find her in the greenhouse or out in the field planting, weeding and harvesting, but she also handles most of the office work, including marketing, purchasing, bookkeeping, and communications and all the other things that are necessary to keep a farm business running.
Chef Stephen Jones - the larder + the delta
Stephen has amassed a wealth of culinary expertise in his 39 years, which is not surprising when you consider that he comes from a family of master chefs and cooks. A former football player, he trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, Ca while working at Watergrill, Table 8, and Nobu in Las Vegas. One of the highlights of his career was working as a sous chef at Bradley Ogden in Las Vegas. "I draw on the experience of what we did there first and foremost, as we used the best local produce, meat, and dairy," says Stephen. He then served as Executive Sous Chef of Mk Restaurant in Chicago before moving to Phoenix. Then Chef Stephen served as Chef de Cuisine at Tarbell's, and as Executive Chef at Latilla at the Boulders Resort in Scottsdale, as well as opening chef of the downtown hot spot Blue Hound Kitchen + Cocktails built within the City Scape shopping & entertainment venue in downtown Phoenix.
After leaving Blue Hound in the spring of 2015 chef Stephen went to work on his own projects the larder + the delta, Walrus & The Pearl and DCM Burger Joint all located within Desoto Central Market located on the corner of Central & Roosevelt in Downtown Phoenix in the heart of the Roosevelt Row arts district. While at DeSoto chef Jones brought national spotlight to the mulit-use space but it was his 8 seat counter only southern concept the larder + the delta that really took off and became a fan favorite amongst the local community, being named travel & leisure magazine best farm to table restaurant in 2016 was a highlight of the year for Jones and the larder + the delta crew. With the momentum building for the restaurant to have its own brick & mortar, in the summer of 2018 Chef Jones was able to open the larder + the delta in the Portland on the Park area of downtown Phoenix.
Chef Tamara Stanger - Cotton & Copper
Tamara Stanger is the executive chef of Cotton & Copper, formerly Helio Basin Brewing. She has worked in kitchens for over 23 years, 17 in Arizona at various local diners and gastropubs across the valley. Her love of the desert have defined the way she crafts her plates, drawing focus on indigenous ingredients, ethically foraging seasonal vegetation, and showcasing game meats. She emphasizes heavily on the relationship between food and drink, which she exercises at Cotton & Copper.
Under the direction of Tamara, in the first year of business, Helio Basin earned several awards including Devour Culinary Classic's "Excellence in Taste" and "Excellence in Distinction," as well as "Best Food" at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival," Phoenix Magazine's "Best Brewery Food," and "Top 50 Best New Breweries in the US" by Travel and Leisure Magazine.
One of the most rewarding aspects is the opportunity to work with local farms. Ramona Farms' ingredients have highlighted the fare from the beginning, first with the intensely eclectic O'odham white tepary bean puree, the Pima corn tortillas, the White Sonora flour frybread; then, with the sautéed tepary blend, the durum wheat berries, and the bourbon Pinole ice cream. Seeking out phenomenal local produce has spurred an evolution of the menu. Crooked Sky was brought in as a CSA drop, and their i'itois onions and baby nopales quickly became a staple. Weekend stops at the farmers market gave way to refined dishes with Brother Nature's herbs and vegetables, Abbie Lee tomatoes, Symbiotic oyster mushrooms, McClendon citrus, and so many countless other amazing Arizona farm ingredients.
Todd Hanley - Hotel Congress, Maynards Kitchen & Market
Hotel Congress has been the heart of downtown Tucson for 100 years. It continues to thrive today under the leadership of General Manager Todd Hanley, a passionate leader who is deeply committed to his community and has had a successful history of guiding the business, and sister restaurant Maynards Market & Kitchen, to new heights through expanded and new offerings. Originally from the Midwest, Todd graduated from Western Michigan University and had a career in the nonprofit world before marrying into the Oseran family, and moving to Tucson to operate the family business. His passion for downtown is evident in the long-lasting partnerships and the businesses’ investment in the community through an annual grant program donating tens of thousands of dollars to non-profits and causes in the downtown community.
Todd also supports the community through his volunteer board positions with Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona, Tucson City of Gastronomy, Downtown Tucson Partnership, and Arizona Public Media. He is a champion for sustainable practices for which he has earned green initiative awards from AzLTA, Mrs. Greens World, and the City of Tucson. This commitment to sustainability has led to partnerships with Refresh Wine Glass, EcoBlue, Compost Cats, and the Solar Store and has helped Hotel Congress become the only historic hotel in Arizona with the Trip Advisor Green Leaf, gold-level designation. Todd is also the founding Director and driving force behind the Agave Heritage Festival, the most comprehensive event in the country devoted to the cultural, commercial and culinary significance of Agave. Todd has been recognized for his leadership with awards including the Small Business Leader of the Year and the Copper Cactus Leader of the Year.
Don’t miss Featured Speaker Chef Charleen Badman (2019 James Beard Award Winner for Best Chef: Southwest of FnB Scottsdale)
As chef and co-owner of the award-winning FnB restaurant in Scottsdale, Charleen Badman is one of Arizona’s most celebrated chefs. On May 6, 2019, Charleen won the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef of the Southwest. Prior to winning the coveted award, Charleen had been a semi-finalist for six years in a row. Known in Arizona as the “veggie whisperer,” Charleen has a knack for coaxing the very best flavor out of locally grown vegetables, which are featured prominently – although not exclusively – on the FnB menu. Her unfussy, yet boldly flavored menu changes seasonally, and sometimes even week-to-week with tweaks based on what’s currently available from local farmers.
Charleen is the founder of Blue Watermelon, a Slow Food Phoenix coalition of local chefs and activists focused on improving school lunches, and an alumnus of the James Beard Boot Camp for Policy and Change. She is also past President of the Phoenix Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, an international organization of women culinary leaders.
Since FnB opened in 2009, it has won numerous awards, including a “Best New Restaurant” designation by every major Phoenix news media outlet. In 2010, Food & Wine magazine selected Badman’s braised leeks topped with mozzarella, mustard, breadcrumbs and a sunny-side up egg as a “Top Ten Dish.” In 2013, Charleen and co-owner Pavle Milic were inducted into the Arizona Culinary Hall Fame as “Best Restaurateurs.” Prior to opening FnB, Charleen worked at Café Terracotta in Tucson and Scottsdale, and at Rancho Pinot in Scottsdale. She left Arizona in 1996 and rose to chef de cuisine at the famed Lobster Club in New York City, and later became the chef/co-owner of the Greenwich Village restaurant, Inside, before returning to Arizona to open FnB with partner Pavle Milic.