Kitchen Doors: Taste America, Organ Stop Pizza and The Farish House
Taste America Returns to the Valley
The James Beard Foundation event showcases local culinary talent
Known for its prestigious awards, educational and advocacy programs and celebration of great food for more than 30 years, the James Beard Foundation has shifted its focus and mission as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In August 2020, JBF launched the Open for Good campaign to support independent restaurants to help the industry rebuild and thrive.
“This industry is vital to our lives and we need to support them,” said Kris Moon, JBF president and COO. “There is so much to be done to create a better food world and opportunity for all who want to contribute. We believe in good food for good and the pleasure of food with purpose.”
One of JBF’s programs that highlights the country’s best food cities and supports independent restaurants is Taste America. Over the years, the Taste America tour has come to the Valley several times, most recently in November 2021 for a dinner at FnB restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale with chefs Lori Hashimoto of Hana Japanese Eatery and Charleen Badman of FnB, who was named JBF’s Best Chef: Southwest in 2019.
“Taste America continues to be an important way to bring JBF’s work to different parts of the country to engage the industry and consumers,” Moon said. “Phoenix has an incredible food and beverage scene, consistent JBF recognition and a committed consumer base that loves and supports local restaurants.”
Taste America returns to the Valley on Feb. 23 as one of 18 cities participating in the 2022 winter dinner series to celebrate local independent restaurants and support efforts to rebuild a more sustainable and equitable industry. The dinner will take place at Elements at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley with a three-course menu created by chefs Samantha Sanz of Elements and Rochelle Daniel of Fat Ox in Scottsdale and the newly opened Atria restaurant in Flagstaff. The menu includes scallops with shrimp mousseline, smoked beef short rib, and a coffee chocolate tart with vegetarian options available and beverage pairings.
Sixty-five percent of the proceeds from Taste America dinners go to the restaurant and 35 percent support JBF programs, including the Open for Good campaign.
“It feels amazing to be featured with another woman chef,” Daniel said. “To be a part of JBF means always striving for excellence and pushing the boundaries for what Arizona culinary is and can be.”
To learn more, go to jamesbeard.org/tasteamerica.
Organ Stop Pizza Celebrates 50 Years
Mesa restaurant continues the pizza and pipes tradition
One of Mesa’s most unique and longstanding restaurants is Organ Stop Pizza, which celebrates 50 years in 2022.
Organ Stop Pizza is designed around the Wurlitzer organ that sits on top of an 8,000-pound console, which controls more than 6,000 pipes and lighting via 1,074 individual keys, buttons and switches.
Each year, Organ Stop Pizza attracts hundreds of thousands of patrons with its theatrical performances, light shows and songs ranging from classical music and Disney favorites to pop and rock hits based on customer requests.
“The last two years have been remarkably challenging for us, but when the world feels unpredictable, coming together and hearing music brings people delight and comfort. We are proud to carry on a 50-year tradition and provide some escapism for our guests night after night,” said Jack Barz, manager and co-owner.
Organ Stop is an important part of a historical tradition. “In the 1970s and 1980s, live pipe organ music could be heard in more than 100 pizzerias across the country,” Barz said. “By the 1990s, what we call ‘pizza and pipes’ restaurants were practically nonexistent, but thanks to our loyal patrons, talented organists and remarkable staff, we are proud to be a living piece of history five decades later.”
In 1995, the restaurant moved to its current 18,000-square-foot location. “While many aspects of the restaurant are the same, especially the format of music and food, the biggest changes are the size of the organ, which has quadrupled and moved from the original location that was only able to seat 350 people to the current location, which seats over 700,” Barz said.
The restaurant business can be tough, especially over the past few years, but Organ Stop has a formula for its ongoing success. “We offer delicious food, great service and family fun, all at a reasonable price,” Barz said. “It’s a winning combination.”
Located at Southern Avenue and Stapley Drive, Organ Stop Pizza opens at 3:30 p.m. on weekdays and 3 p.m. on weekends.
Visit organstoppizza.com to learn more.
A Downtown Phoenix Gem
The Farish House offers comfort fare in a historical home
The downtown Phoenix restaurant scene has been booming in recent years with several new additions, including the Farish House. Opened in 2019, it offers distinctive food and cocktails in a house built in 1899.
The house is named for engineer William Farish, Phoenix’s first city manager, who lived there. Before it was a restaurant, the house was the Roosevelt Bar from 2006-2012. It has also been an art gallery and private offices. Dixie Cook has owned the building for more than 25 years and obtained the historic designation in 2002.
From the outside curb appeal to the unique interior, the Farish House offers an inviting atmosphere for diners. “I love the brickwork, the slope of the roof and the front porch welcoming guests as they approach the house,” said chef and owner Lori Hassler. “The setting, the small rooms, the fireplace and the woodwork take you out of the hustle of the modern day and set the scene for an intimate dinner. Having three small dining rooms with their own color scheme and personality, and a great patio space gives our customers varying experiences each time they visit.”
The Farish House serves country French and American classics with Mediterranean influences. Popular dishes include cassoulet with duck leg confit, two-bone pork chop with apple fig chutney, dates stuffed with chorizo, and brioche bread pudding with brandy caramel sauce.
“We serve flavorful, rich dishes with a lot of low and slow braising, confits, and savory fruit compotes we like to pair with meats,” Hassler said. “I am proud of our staff who so graciously dote on our customers. The food, wine list and cocktails are great, but it’s the warmth and care that bring people back.”
Visiting the Farish House offers a respite for diners. “Guests can look forward to a little escape to focus on the company they’re with,” Hassler said. “Drinks and food are served with care in a comfortable, casual manner. We focus on our craft of food and drink, and you can make the evening yours.”
The Farish House is open Tuesday through Saturday from 4-10 p.m. Go to farishhouse.com for more information.