Chef skillfully plating a piece of fish on a bed of micro-greens and sauce

5 award-winning, celebrity chefs you can experience in Phoenix

Here’s where to enjoy fine dining from local culinary stars.

Phoenix has always had a flourishing culinary scene, but over the last decade, it has truly morphed into a mecca of global flavors. Foodies are especially enamored by the celebrity chefs who have opened restaurants Valley-wide and our many James Beard Award nominees and winners — their status has helped elevate local dining experiences and brought new concepts to our neighborhoods. Read on to discover the most notable chefs and where to find them.

Angelo Sosa, Kembara and Tia Carmen 

Fans of Top Chef are sure to remember chef Angelo Sosa from seasons 7 and 8 — for the last several years, he’s been bringing his bold cooking and techniques to Tia Carmen at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa. This beautifully designed restaurant places his contemporary southwest cuisine front and center, with Instagram-worthy platings of ceviche tostadas with yuzu and guacamole, mushroom menudo, New York strip with a southwestern spice blend served with bone marrow, and vanilla flan with tequila caramel and Manchego cheese. 

In late 2023, Chef Angelo also opened Kembara at the same resort — this swanky restaurant is a celebration of Asian street food culture, highlighting ingredients and flavors he absorbed during travels through Thailand, Hanoi, Tokyo, and Penang. He deftly marries sweet, sour, and salty elements to create such harmonious dishes as fish head curry, wagyu beef rendang, forbidden rice bowls, massaman vegetable curry, and crab fried rice. 

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Christopher Gross, Christopher’s at Wrigley Mansion 

With accolades and awards aplenty — including winning the James Beard Award for Best Chef of the Southwest and a 2022 James Beard Award nomination for Outstanding Chef — Chef Christopher is best known for the modern twist he puts on French fare. He has cooked for Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush and has graced Phoenix with his culinary genius for more than 40 years (longtime locals will remember Christopher’s Fermier and Christopher’s and Crush Lounge in the Biltmore Fashion Park).

Chef Christopher’s newest restaurant, Christopher’s at Wrigley Mansion, is a compilation of his global culinary experiences, set in a 1930s hilltop mansion with sweeping views of the Phoenix skyline through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Enjoy small plates and cocktails at the chef’s counter or on the patio, and don’t miss the house smoked salmon, roasted red bell pepper soup, liberty duck (a sautéed breast and confit leg), and caviar with fresh blinis. 

Scott Conant, Mora Italian and The Americano

He may be a finicky judge on Chopped, but that expectation for perfection is carried through in Scott Conant’s own cooking. The Food Network star has made frequent guest appearances on “The Today Show,” “Rachael Ray Show,” “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” and “Good Morning America,” among others. He is also a two-time James Beard Award-winning chef and cookbook author — his latest book is “Peace, Love & Pasta.”

Located on 7th street, a neighborhood filled with many Phoenix favorites, is Mora Italian. Showcasing Conant’s contemporary approach to Italian cooking, must-try dishes include his signature pasta pomodoro, citrus-fennel dusted branzino, fritto misto, and pork and veal meatballs. At The Americano in Scottsdale, more of an Italian-inspired steakhouse, order the braised wagyu beef cheeks, seafood tower, tagliatelle wagyu Bolognese, or a ribeye or tomahawk from their mesquite and pecan wood-burning grill. 

Beau MacMillan, CALA Scottsdale 

Food Network star chef Beau MacMillan has been a fixture in Valley kitchens for more than two decades. But you may also know him from appearances on “Beat the Chefs,” “The Next Iron Chef” and “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” not to mention when he co-hosted the show “Worst Cooks in America.”

Many will remember his years as the executive chef for Sanctuary Resort at Camelback Mountain, but these days you’ll find him at Cala Scottsdale (on the ground floor of boutique hotel Senna House), his latest venture with Clive Collective in Old Town Scottsdale. This restaurant offers diners a Mediterranean aesthetic with authentic coastal cuisine and flavors from Greece, Spain, Italy, and Morocco. In October 2023, he and Clive Collective announced a new restaurant concept in partnership with chef Scott Conant — it’s called Tell Your Friends and is set to open in spring 2024.

Chris Bianco, Pizzeria Bianco

The man, the myth, the legend: Chris Bianco is a two-time James Beard Award-Winning chef and restaurateur who knows a thing or two about pizza — many Phoenicians agree his Pizzeria Bianco is the best in town (and has been since 1987). Bianco focuses on simple ingredients and old-world techniques, using a wood-fired oven and wowing patrons with his homemade mozzarella cheese. The restaurant is small, so don’t be surprised if you have to wait in line.

There are two locations in Phoenix, one downtown in Heritage Square and another at Town & Country near the Biltmore. At Pane Bianco Central, Chris serves up focaccia sandwiches baked to order, fresh loaves of bread, and NY-style pizzas by the slice. Finally, Tratto, his Italian and Southwestern-inspired trattoria on Van Buren is the place to be for date night — there’s a rotating menu with mouthwatering dishes each week.  

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People Sitting at a Picnic Table at an Outdoor Festival

Mark your calendar: 8 Atlanta festivals to cure your spring fever

Atlanta’s best season is here and these are the spring festivals you won’t want to miss.

You can always count on springtime to kick off festival season in Atlanta. The weather turns warm, the flowers begin to bloom, and the streets burst with cultural extravaganzas, culinary pop-ups, music festivals, and more. Whether you’re immersing yourself in the arts at the Atlanta Film Festival or discovering the historical wonders of the Georgia Renaissance Festival, there’s no shortage of adventures this season. So mark your calendar and start making plans to check out these much-anticipated Atlanta spring festivals. 

St. Patrick’s Day Parade 

The parade officially begins on Peachtree Street in Midtown, Atlanta, GA 30301

March 16, 2024

Cost: Free

Atlanta comes alive on St. Patrick’s Day. Irish music, dancing, parade floats, marching bands, and bagpipes spill into the streets of Midtown in observance of the holiday. The Atlanta St. Patrick’s Parade is Atlanta’s longest-running event, with live entertainment, food, and tons of family-friendly activities along the parade route. Come decked out in green to join the fun. 

404 Day 

Piedmont Park, 400 Park Drive Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30309

April 4, 2024

Cost: Free

“Atlanta influences everything.” This is your chance to pay homage to ATL’s vibrant culture, creative spirit, and everything that makes the 404 area code unique. On April 4th each year (4.04!), city residents come together to celebrate Atlanta’s homegrown music, art, innovation, and more. The energy is high across the perimeter and surrounding counties, but there is no place more electrifying than Piedmont Park, where you can view local art installations and live performances. An ideal event to connect with the city’s top influencers and talent, 404 Day is a must for native and transplant ATLiens. 

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Atlanta Dogwood Festival

Piedmont Park, 400 Park Drive Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30309

April 12-14, 2024

Cost: Free

Welcome the spring season with the blooming of Atlanta’s native dogwood trees. A beloved tradition that dates back over 80 years, the Atlanta Dogwood Festival boasts an artist market, delicious food vendors, art contests, a kid’s village, and a world-class dog frisbee competition. Listen to bluegrass and rock music while eating festival favorites like funnel cake and kettle corn, all amidst the picturesque backdrop of the blooming dogwood trees. 

Georgia Renaissance Festival

6905 Virlyn B. Smith Rd., Fairburn, Georgia 30213

April 13-June 2, 2024

Cost: $9-$25

Step back into 16th-century Europe and journey to the days of knights, jesters, and maidens. Located just outside Atlanta, the Georgia Renaissance Festival will transport you to a medieval village filled with artisans, performers, and culinary delights. From jousting tournaments to Shakespearean plays and glass-blowing demonstrations, the festival offers a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Renaissance-era life. Other attractions include ten stages of music, comedic acts, crafts, and even animal performances.

SweetWater 420 Fest 

225 Rogers St NE, Atlanta, GA 30317

April 20-21, 2024

Cost: $245 for 2-day tickets

Raise a glass and rock out to your favorite tunes at the SweetWater 420 Fest. This two-day festival combines the best craft beer and live music, featuring performances by top artists. This year’s lineup includes Beck, Grace Potter, and Andy Frasco and the U.N., to name a few. Of course, you can also sample a wide selection of brews from hometown favorite and presenting sponsor, SweetWater Brewing Company. With 25 performing acts across three unique stages, plus food trucks, creative vendors, workshops, and an artist market, it’s the perfect spring outing for beer and music enthusiasts.  

Atlanta Film Festival

Plaza Theater Atlanta, 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave, Atlanta, GA 30306

April 25-May 5, 2024

Cost: $100-$500

One of the country’s longest-running and most prestigious film festivals, the Atlanta Film Festival showcases a diverse selection of independent flicks, documentaries, and shorts from local and international filmmakers. It’s a chance for movie buffs to discover emerging talent and engage in thought-provoking panel discussions and Q&A sessions with filmmakers.

Atlanta Caribbean Carnival

Westside Park, 1660 Johnson Road NW, Entrance 1, Atlanta, GA 30318

May 25, 2024

Cost: $35-$160

Feel the rhythm and the spirit of the islands at the Atlanta Caribbean Carnival. The infectious beats of soca, reggae, and calypso, coupled with Caribbean cuisine, vibrant costumes, and dancing, create a dynamic and infectious atmosphere. From sunrise to sunset, the day is full of events that will satisfy all your senses, featuring the parade of bands downtown, an artist market, dance demos, and children’s activities.

Atlanta Jazz Festival 

Piedmont Park, 400 Park Drive NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

May 25-27, 2024

Cost: Free 

This Memorial Day Weekend, immerse yourself in the smooth sounds of talented musicians from around the world at the Atlanta Jazz Festival. For over 40 years, the annual event has featured renowned up-and-coming artists, offering soulful melodies and a toe-tapping good time. With an array of art, food, and other vendors, the final weekend in May will be the height of festivities. But you can also check out events the entire month at various venues throughout the city.

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A woman enjoying an outdoor activity

5 Dallas outdoor experiences to elevate your spring

Put on your walking shoes, pack a picnic, and immerse yourself in the great outdoors.

Dallas offers a wide range of outdoor experiences to enjoy this spring, including blooming gardens and adrenaline-pumping adventures. Whether you prefer peaceful natural settings or city green spaces, these five destinations provide limitless opportunities to make the most of the season and create unforgettable memories. So, put on your walking shoes, pack a picnic, and immerse yourself in the great outdoors of Dallas this spring.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Step into a world of enchantment at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, where 66 acres of meticulously manicured landscapes await your exploration. Stroll through lush gardens adorned with seasonal blooms, from tulips and daffodils in early spring to vibrant azaleas and roses as the season progresses. Don’t miss the opportunity to capture stunning photos against the backdrop of the iconic floral displays and serene lakes. With special events and activities throughout the season, the Arboretum offers an immersive experience for nature enthusiasts of all ages.

Trinity Forest Adventure Park 

For those who crave adventure, Trinity Forest Adventure Park is the ultimate outdoor destination. This aerial adventure park is tucked away in the towering trees of the Great Trinity Forest and offers an exciting variety of zip lines, ropes courses, and climbing challenges. You can test your agility and conquer obstacles at various difficulty levels, from beginner to experienced adventurer. Whether you’re soaring through the trees or navigating suspended bridges, the park guarantees an unforgettable outdoor experience filled with thrills and laughter.

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Cedar Ridge Preserve 

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in the tranquility of Cedar Ridge Preserve. Spanning over 600 acres of pristine wilderness, this urban oasis offers miles of scenic hiking trails that wind through forests, prairies, and rugged terrain. Keep your eyes peeled for native wildlife, including deer, birds, and butterflies, as you explore the diverse ecosystems of this natural haven. With breathtaking overlooks and picnic areas scattered throughout the preserve, it’s the perfect setting for a peaceful day of outdoor recreation and appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.

Klyde Warren Park 

Klyde Warren Park is located in the heart of downtown Dallas, and it flawlessly blends city vibes with outdoor leisure. This vibrant green space offers something for everyone, from fitness classes and live entertainment to food trucks and cultural events. You can join a yoga session on the lawn or challenge friends to a game of cornhole. The park’s central location and lively atmosphere make it an ideal place for community engagement and outdoor fun.

White Rock Lake 

Escape to the shores of White Rock Lake, where scenic beauty meets plenty of recreational opportunities. This picturesque reservoir spans over 1,015 acres, offering a host of outdoor activities for nature lovers and fitness enthusiasts alike. Bring a kayak or paddleboard and enjoy the lake, or explore the surrounding trails by foot or bike. Or better yet, pack a picnic. 

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