You won’t find many light, barely filling breakfast items on the menu at Perk Eatery. That’s because the chefs use recipes perfected by three generations of Midwestern restaurateurs to create stick-to-your-ribs meals just like the ones their mothers made for them. But recipes aren't everything—the plates of steak 'n' eggs, western omelets, and banana-nut pancakes go one step further in their quest for a homemade taste. They incorporate local and organic ingredients. The staff uses hormone- and antibiotic-free meats, cage-free eggs, and certified organic coffee roasted especially for the eatery so that diners can know what they’re putting into their bodies without installing metal detectors in their molars. Lunchtime brings the same careful ingredients in classic sandwiches and grass-fed burgers, which emerge fresh from the grill until they close at 3 p.m.
It might seem as if the owners of Zinc Bistro didn’t bother to consult a map when devising the concept for their new restaurant: a Parisian bistro by way of New York. But though Phoenix isn’t the likeliest home for such a place, you won’t hear any locals complaining. They’re too enamored with the round marble tables and wicker chairs that line the bistro’s sidewalk. Such overtly French accents seem right at home beside the burbling fountain on the garden patio, where guests share romantic dinners and afternoon cocktails. Though it certainly stands out in the parched Sonoran Desert, the patio isn’t the most notable aspect of Zinc Bistro. That honor belongs to chef Matt Carter’s contemporary bistro cuisine. The Phoenix native shows an uncommon understanding of classic French cooking techniques, whether he’s crafting crepes with Dungeness crab and lobster cream or finding the perfect balance of flavors in his foie gras risotto. As if that weren’t enough, there’s also an oyster bar where staff serve fresh seafood and hold shells to guests’ ears so they can hear the ocean while they eat.
The time-tested lamb, chicken, and seafood dishes served at the Persian Room all jump from the pages of traditional recipes perfected over centuries. Dried lime, cardamom, basil, turmeric, and a range of spices add zest to grilled and marinated meats, which can be accompanied by bread from a clay oven and helpings of saffron-scented basmati rice.
Benedict's Catering and Cafe’s owner draws from more than 20 years of experience planning events for Estée Lauder. She leads a team of servers, bartenders, chefs, and baristas during catering services for events large and small. At her intimate French bistro, she turns the reins over to an American Culinary Federation–certified pastry chef, who bakes sweet pastries full of chocolate and pecans, and crafts a range of savory brunch and lunch dishes made from locally sourced eggs, dairy, and vegetables. Diners can complement their meals with mugs of custom-blended dark roast coffee and glasses of mango iced tea. The pasty chef also showcases her techniques in small-size cooking classes, which cover culinary styles such as Greek, Italian, and Spanish and cooking methods such as grilling and poaching. Once done with a class or two, students are ready to host their own dinner parties or test whether a grilled steak can really be thrown further than a raw one.
A duo of chefs helms The Cooking Joynt, wielding experience accumulated in restaurants and resorts to lead cooking classes or cater events. During culinary classes, students learn how to construct simple, tasty fare from scratch through hands-on techniques and demonstration. Drawing upon ingredients that are easy to find in any grocery store or scarecrow’s purse, pupils fill the kitchen with the clatter of culinary creation as they learn to cut fresh pasta or pair wines. Caterers rush past, loaded with trays bound for weddings, corporate meetings, or attempts to break the record for number of people simultaneously doing the hokey pokey.
Chef Erasmo "Razz" Kamnitzer, namesake of Razz's Restaurant and Bar and seventh-generation chef, infuses flavors from his native Venezuela to his eatery's upscale fusion menu. Like all dinner-theater performers, Razz dazzles diners with stovetop pyrotechnics in his open show kitchen, simmering up spicy bouillabaisse full of shellfish and finfish, or ladling chops and fillets with lime sauce, tropical-fruit relish, lingonberry sauce, and other zesty flavors. Guests can pair savory bites with sips from the wine list, with selections available by the glass, bottle, or fluted barrel. Razz's also caters special events such as weddings and holiday parties.