Kitchen Doors: The Eat Beat

Tracy Dempsey Originals [Local First Spotlight]

1325 W. University Drive, Tempe

Tracy Dempsey is well-known for providing sensational sweet and savory desserts to several Valley restaurants. Her packaged confections are found at shops, resorts and wine-tasting rooms around the state. A graduate of Scottsdale Community College’s culinary program, Dempsey embraces local ingredients and supports local suppliers.

Dempsey’s creations are sold at Tracy Dempsey Originals in Tempe, where she works alongside her husband, who runs ODV Wines. The shop offers wines from around the world, including a large selection of Arizona wines, desserts, confections and local products. In addition to selling desserts and wine, the shop hosts cooking classes and wine tastings.

“Tracy Dempsey Originals and ODV Wines are proud members of Local First Arizona and endeavor to support our local business community as much and as often as possible, and we encourage our supporters to do the same,” said Dempsey. “When we were first starting, so many local businesses were supportive of us, and we feel it is important to support other local businesses and artisan producers in return.”

Dempsey derives great joy from her work. “I love desserts as an outlet for creativity,” she said. “I love tinkering with savory items to see what is possible on the sweet side, such as our blue cheese cheesecake with cranberry chutney and our signature bacon pecan brittle. It brings me happiness to make people happy with my desserts.”

For more information, visit tracydempseyoriginals.com.

[Photo by Kenna Douds (product) and Debby Wolvos (headshot)]

Caring Chefs: Brett Vibber

When he’s not in the kitchen, Chef Brett Vibber can often be found foraging in the desert for local ingredients that he uses to create beautiful, seasonal and unique dishes.

In addition to cooking and foraging, Vibber leads the culinary arts program for the Scott Foundation, which helps prepare Arizona’s foster youth for the future by providing valuable life skills and exposing them to several career fields. The kids work alongside Vibber and other local chefs to get hands-on experience in restaurant kitchens and culinary events.

“We plan to implement a curriculum for the kids from beginning classes to job placement,” said Vibber. “The idea is not to turn them all into chefs but to expose them to real-world responsibilities.”

Vibber has developed a close relationship with the Scott Foundation kids. Some have foraged with him, and some have become his employees. “I was taught to help those in need, and this is a group of kids that really needs love and support,” said Vibber, who also participates in local fundraising events for the American Liver Foundation and March of Dimes. “These kids know they can call me for anything they need.”

The Scott Foundation kids were very involved with Vibber’s restaurant, Cartwright’s Modern Cuisine in Cave Creek, which closed in 2019. They will continue to be involved in his new restaurant, WILD Arizona Cuisine. “We have also started a farm in New River,” Vibber said. “My hope is that it will eventually turn into an educational farm where children and adults can come learn about wild food, farmed food and animals that thrive in Arizona.”

For more information, visit scott-foundation.org.

[Photo by Aaron Markus]

New in Town: FLINT by Baltaire

2425 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix

Created by the team behind the successful Baltaire steakhouse in Los Angeles, FLINT by Baltaire opened at the Esplanade in the Biltmore area of Phoenix in fall 2019.

Customers love the elegant two-story space, the attentive service and the wood-fired cuisine featuring American fare accented with coastal Mediterranean and bold Middle Eastern flavors.

The diverse menu offers a variety of shareable dips and spreads, including short rib hummus served with fresh wood-fired pita, smoked eggplant and olive tapenade. Small plates include oysters, wood-grilled Spanish octopus, spicy lamb meatballs and wood-roasted cauliflower.

“The inspiration for the menu and the concept as a whole is really centered around our wood-fired grill and hearth oven,” said Executive Chef Travis Strickland. “We’re celebrating flavors of the Mediterranean. We’re relying heavily on great quality meat and seafood, in-season vegetables and lots of fresh herbs to bring brightness and vibrancy.”

Wood-fired pizzas include roasted mushroom and spicy fennel sausage. Specialties from the wood-fired grill include diver scallops, lamb chops, whole branzino and filet mignon. The roasted chicken for two is carved tableside for a unique experience.

Desserts include burnt Basque cheesecake, warm donuts with cinnamon cardamom sugar and Turkish coffee mousse, and a chocolate sesame ganache tart.

 In addition to an extensive wine list, FLINT offers creative cocktails including Berried Bliss with sparkling rosé, raspberry liqueur, pomegranate and lemon, and Eve’s First Choice with bourbon, apple, ginger and lemon. Happy hour is offered daily in the bar from 3 until 6 p.m.

The restaurant offers a spacious and sophisticated bar, an outdoor terrace with a two-sided fireplace and shade system, space for private events, and an upstairs open-air rooftop lounge.

To learn more, go to flintbybaltaire.com.

[photo by FLINT by Baltaire]

Romantic Resort Dining

The Valley is home to several beautiful resorts ideal for romantic getaways and intimate dinners. While many offer Valentine’s Day dinner specials and hotel packages, romance is on the menu year-round.

Different Pointe of View

11111 N. 7th St., Phoenix

With its incredible views, Different Pointe of View, located at the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Resort in North Phoenix, has been a longtime favorite for Valentine’s Day and other special occasions. “We’ve been so privileged to be the site of countless romantic events, proposals and celebrations for more than 25 years,” said Executive Chef Anthony DeMuro. “There’s something extraordinary about dining on top of the city. Our guests are treated to an incredible experience that appeals to all of the senses.”

LON’s at The Hermosa Inn

5532 N. Palo Cristi Road, Paradise Valley

Another resort restaurant recognized as one of the Valley’s most romantic is LON’s at The Hermosa Inn. “Nestled in the heart of Paradise Valley, LON’s is a hidden gem that speaks the language of love 365 days a year,” said Jon Dils, LON’s general manager. “The expansive patio offers all the right touches for a romantic night out — a crackling fireplace, a trickling fountain, tables lit by small lanterns and an acoustic guitarist on Friday and Saturday nights.”

 In addition to the setting and ambiance, the food can enhance the romance. “For a romantic dinner, LON’s menu offers many items that are perfect for sharing and also happen to be aphrodisiacs,” said Dils, who recommends the Pacific oysters, lobster tempura, roasted branzino and a special dessert. “LON’s churro tree boasts the lightest housemade churros imaginable served with horchata ice cream, Mexican chocolate and strawberries. Finish the night with a glass of Taylor port cozied up with your partner next to one of LON’s Last Drop’s severn fireplaces.”

For more information, visit tapatiocliffshilton.com and hermosainn.com.

[Photos by Different Pointe of View and Debby Wolvos]

About Shoshana Leon

Shoshana Leon is a culinary writer for Frontdoors Media and creator of Foodie Fo Sho.

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