Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza of Barrio Cafe prepares her ingredients.

See 2020 James Beard Award nominees on Arizona PBS

Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza of Barrio Café is one of 17 James Beard Award nominees who have been featured on Arizona PBS.

It’s an exciting time to be covering food and restaurants in Arizona. “People with a passion who once might have gotten their start here and moved on are now staying here,” said “Plate & Pour” series producer Margery Punnett.

Margery and our small but mighty production team keep a close eye on the local food scene. When the 2020 James Beard Award nominees were announced last week, 22 chefs and restaurants from Arizona were on the list. Of those, 17 have been featured on Arizona PBS.

Check out the list below and watch our episodes featuring the stories of these movers and shakers in our community — stories that are only possible when you support Arizona PBS. As a sustaining member, your $5 per month or $60 annual donation will give you access to Arizona PBS Passport, where you can catch new episodes of “Plate & Pour” two weeks before they air, or binge your favorite PBS programming, on-demand.

MORE: Want to enjoy some of our featured restaurants while you support Arizona PBS? Check out “A Taste of Plate & Pour,” our limited-time offer for a unique, prix fixe dining experience at your choice of Valley favorites Fat Ox, Atlas Bistro or Anhelo.

2020 James Beard Award nominees featured on Arizona PBS

Outstanding Chef

Nobuo Fukuda, Nobuo at Teeter House, Phoenix
Chef Fukuda is famous for his artistic Japanese dishes. We take you inside the historic Teeter House in downtown Phoenix where he gives us a taste of his famous omakase.

Outstanding Pastry Chef

Country Velador, Super Chunk Sweets & Treats, Scottsdale
Known for unique cookie flavors like Cowpuncher and Mesquite Chocolate Chip, Super Chunk takes “made from scratch” seriously. From their bagels and cream cheese to their cookie dough and pretzel stick ice cream, almost everything is made on site.

Rising Star Chef of the Year

Cassie Shortino, Tratto, Phoenix
Chef Shortino is the executive chef at one of Phoenix’s most acclaimed restaurants. She shows us how to slice a fish to create a beautiful crudo dish and tells us how her mentor, Chef Chris Bianco, played an instrumental part in making her the rising star she is today. (More on Bianco below, keep reading.)

Best Chefs: Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Oklahoma)

Stephen Jones, The Larder + The Delta, Phoenix
This small restaurant in downtown Phoenix serves new southern cuisine that focuses on flavorful preparation of vegetables. See how their menu honors distinct southern dishes including Burgoo and Hoppin’ Jack.

Bernie Kantak, Citizen Public House, Scottsdale
This pick from season 4 of “Check, Please! Arizona” is a contemporary, upscale version of the traditional public house nestled in old town Scottsdale. Citizen Public House serves craft beers, cocktails and award-winning gastro pub cuisine to a clientele hungry for exceptional food, provocative drink and new-fashioned fun.

Danielle Leoni, The Breadfruit & Rum Bar, Phoenix
Three “Check, Please! Arizona” guests visited The Breadfruit & Rum Bar to chat about its combinations of local influences and tropical fare featuring a large assortment of premium rums.

Silvana Salcido Esparza, Barrio Café Gran Reserva, Phoenix
Chef Esparza opened the original Barrio Café in 2002 in the “Calle 16” neighborhood of Central Phoenix, a cultural district filled with murals. See how she uses French technique and inspiration from regional specialties to create her own brand of Mexican cuisine.

Samantha Sanz, Talavera, Scottsdale
Chef Sanz was raised in a family-owned restaurant, and at 28, she became the youngest chef to oversee a Four Seasons kitchen. Look on as she shares her grandfather’s paella recipe with “Plate & Pour” host Mark Tarbell.

Jeff Smedstad, Elote Café, Sedona
Three “Check, Please! Arizona” guests chatted about Elote Café’s creative, original, Southwestern and Mexican cuisine.

Outstanding Bar Program

Little Rituals, Phoenix
In addition to traditional cocktails, Little Rituals also caters to the recent interest in non-alcoholic drinks. At this new bar overlooking downtown Phoenix, see how they make these popular drinks that certainly look and taste like the real deal.

Outstanding Wine Program

FnB, Scottsdale
Co-owner Pavle Milic has long appreciated Arizona wine – he gained national recognition when he curated the first Arizona-only wine program at FnB. “Plate & Pour” profiled his co-owner, Chef Charleen Badman (Best Chef of the Southwest winner 2019) in season 2. She takes Mark Tarbell shopping for some of her favorite ingredients at the Uptown Farmers Market in Phoenix to prepare a beautiful pasta dish using locally sourced ingredients.

Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Producer

Stephen Paul, Hamilton Distillers, Tucson
The idea was simple: to produce a single-malt whiskey with the flavor of the Southwest by using malt barley over mesquite instead of peat. Join Mark Tarbell to see how they do it, and why it’s winning awards.

Outstanding Hospitality

Mi Nidito Restaurant, Tucson
Three “Check, Please! Arizona” guests enjoyed Mi Nidito, which is known for its flavorful Sonoran food and friendly service.

Outstanding Restaurant

Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix
Chef Chris Bianco joined Ted Simons on Arizona Horizon in 2017 to chat about his culinary journey, his love of Arizona and his cookbook, “Bianco: Pizza, Pasta, and Other Food I Like.” From his first job working at a pizza shop in the Bronx to the James Beard Award for best Southwest Chef in 2003, Chris Bianco has become one of the biggest names in pizza.


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