Bringing awareness to our awesome Phoenix restaurant scene is just one way that we strive to put our dynamic and innovative community on the map. Being part of a local community involves more than just shopping and eating local. It’s about getting to know the faces behind the food and hearing their incredible stories.
In the spirit of bringing our restaurant community into the spotlight, we’ve asked the members of our Devour Phoenix Restaurant Coalition a few questions to get to know them better and hear a bit about their inspiration.
Today we are featuring:
Danielle Leoni / The Breadfruit & Rum Bar and Leoni’s Focaccia
Q: What is your favorite food memory?
Sitting at the wooden kitchen table in Roselle Illinois as a young girl – around 10 years old, watching my Grandma Arena stand in front of what seemed like the tallest stock pot in the world as she stirred the gravy for Sunday dinner. I remember the pungent smell of the pecorino romano and the burn in my arm after grating what seemed like a never ending brick of cheese. My father and grandfather would sweep in and out of the kitchen trying to steal a meatball from her pot – My grandmother would yell at them with this stern tone warning them to get their hands out of the pot. Her threats were empty and exciting. I would see a smile that seemed to radiate from her heart and light up her face once they were out of sight. It was an irresistible game where everybody won. Nothing beats a Sunday dinner at home.
Q: Which other Phoenix chefs or restaurateurs inspire you and why?
Chefs that cook from inspiration that are driven to work more intensely than most could imagine to realize their vision. There are a handful that I have come to admire like Lori Hashimoto of Hana, Stephen Jones of The Larder + The Delta, Chrysa Robertson of Rancho Pinot, Charleen Badman of FnB and Nobuo Fukuda.
Q: What do you think should be the next food trend in the Phoenix food & dining scene?
A culinary scene that leans heavily on big, bold flavors from around the world. I would love to see a more global culinary scene develop in Phoenix. For nearly 9 years, I’ve been cooking Jamaican food encouraging people to reconsider their notion of curry, seafood and food not very common to our Phoenician diet like cassava, bammy, salt fish and such. I love being one of the few offering this kind of experience and I certainly welcome more!
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring chef, what would it be?
Always challenge your concept of your best, drop your ego, don’t drink too much, stay away from drugs, and do twice more than you think you are supposed to be doing, be respectful of everybody in your world – including yourself and show pride in what you do!