HER Certified Auto Review: 2019 Camry TRD 4-Door V6 Sedan

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By Cathy Droz –

When your bestie turns 70, you take a girl’s weekend to celebrate.  We didn’t go very far, the Boulders resort in Carefree, but we needed a few drivers with cargo space or in my case, a cool car to drive around in.  You also offer to drive because everyone wanted to take a spin in my red Camry TRD, thanks to Toyota.

The Camry was introduced in 1982… and as we all said this weekend… This is not your “Mother’s Camry.” Still a leading model for the Toyota brand, this TRD was taken to a whole new level. In fact, I challenged one of the ladies to a short race against her Targa, Porsche. At one point she got behind the wheel so she could see and feel for herself the power and tenacity of the Camry.  She was impressed.

Maybe we’re turning 70 but we haven’t lost our love of cars, speed and luxury and of course the color red.  Check out the video to see just what went on that weekend.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkwxnW0etY8&t=21s

Standard and Performance

  • 5L V6 Engine, 301 hp @6600 rpm/287 lb-ft @ 4700rpm
  • 8-speed transmission w/ paddle shifters
  • TRD tuned Front and Rear Suspension

Safety and Convenience

  • Pre collision w/pedestrian detection, lane departure alert
  • VSC, TRAC, ABS BA and SST
  • Backup Camera

Exterior and Interior

  • Audio – 7-inch Screen 6 speakers
  • Android Auto & Apple CarPlay Compatible
  • Display with TRD start up display
  • Aero Kit with Red Pin Striping, Red TRD Badge
  • Red Seatbelts
  • TRD Rear Spoiler
  • TRD Logo Headrest

For more go to www.toyota.com and www.hercertified.com for more Toyota reviews.

MSRP:  $31,040

As Tested: $32,920

The special color red is optional @ $425.00


For additional HER Certified Auto Reviews, visit www.hercertified.com.

2020 for Good — or Not?

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Click to learn more about Rabbi Kravitz

By Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. 

As you read this column, the newest year 2020 has already arrived. It’s the year we will refer to in the phrase “hindsight is 2020.” So, if this newest year does grant us the opportunity to reflect on the past, what do we see?

2019 was a year of amazing pain and conflict in the United States, not just in the streets of our cities, our schools, our houses of worship, but even in the halls of our government. It was 12 months filled with murder, rancor, swearing, bullying, harassment and mis-statements or lies. No matter the side of the aisle where you sit, 2019 presented itself as the opportunity to challenge and argue, besmirch and belittle anyone and everyone who is different. Hardly a day went by without someone using public or social media to verbally spit in the eye of someone else, without apology.

Seldom did we hear or read of people doing good for each other, except the occasional tribute to America’s military or vets. All the rest of us were fair game for targeting. We sent our “thoughts and prayers” to millions around the world who became cannon fodder for monarchs and oligarchs. Many praised ill-informed leaders. Thousands attempted to bury — online, sometimes in person — those who did not uphold their “values.” We felt the derision of those who saw human beings differently, and who made us the objects of their lunacy, the focus of their fury. Compassion and truth evaporated.

2019 was not a good year. True, we had some successes in medicine to heal the hurting; we saw advances in communication to connect us; and we responded with millions of dollars to care for victims of man-made and climate-made disasters. Nevertheless, 2019 now is over. How many hundreds of thousands remain hostages to war and displacement, seeking freedoms no longer offered, because of squandered resources.

Ours now is the responsibility to make 2020 a year where we can proudly say next year at this time — in hindsight — 2020 was better, because we worked together to make it so.


Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D., is known Valley-wide for his more than three decades of support for civil and human rights, and the positive efforts of law enforcement. A volunteer police chaplain, he regularly lectures on related subjects, while working part-time as Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator for Jewish Family & Children’s Service. Contact him at rrlkdd@hotmail.com.


Photo by Andrew Zuber; courtesy of Scopio.

Blue Light: The Visible Danger

By Stephen Cohen, O.D.

Over the past decade, our lives have been transformed due to smart phones, tablets and other handheld devices. These devices are backlit by LED light. Also, legislation has been implemented that require that incandescent light bulbs be replaced by more energy efficient LED bulbs. Unfortunately, this change in technology has come with a price tag: these devices emit high levels of “blue light.”

Think about the colors of the rainbow. On the spectrum, blue light is right next to ultraviolet radiation (UV). We know that UV (which we cannot see) can be damaging to our skin and to our eyes. Its neighbor, blue light, has been found to cause numerous problems in higher and extended doses.

Although the sun is the major source of all wavelengths of light, including blue light, we have experienced a tremendous increase in blue light exposure in other settings, such as in our office, on our laptop and even in our beds when we tend to use our smart phones and tablets before going to sleep.

Here are some of the challenges we now face. Blue light suppresses melatonin, which helps us fall asleep. Using a smart phone in bed for a short time in anticipation of sleep actually wakes us up. Apple, for example, has come up with an adjustment to turn down the blue light at night in an attempt to counteract this problem for its iPhone users. Blue light also causes significant eyestrain. This can affect visual comfort, moods and behavior, whether for adults in an office, or, more significantly, for children in a classroom.

Blue light (which has been found to penetrate deeper into our eyes) has been implicated as a contributing factor to developing Macular Degeneration later in life. Protecting your eyes now will not only help to improve your quality of life today, it can also help in the future. There are now coatings that can be applied to lens surfaces of eyeglasses that block UV, glare, and blue light. This can enhance clarity (since the “blue” end of the visible spectrum tends to be more distorting), reduce strain and protect your eyes. Special filters on computer/tablet screens can reduce blue light exposure. Using the adjustment settings on your smart phone can also reduce exposure to higher levels of blue light.

We are familiar with the term “unintended consequences,” where some advances in technology provides benefits but can also cause unanticipated challenges. Such is the case with lighting changes that were made for environmental benefits, as well as digital device technology. So, while we help to protect our environment, let’s protect our eye health and visual comfort as well.


Photo credit: Japanexperterna.se via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Russo and Steele Celebrates Twenty Years — Offers Super Rare Lamborghini at Scottsdale Auction

Russo and Steele Collector Automobile Auctions returns home to Scottsdale Jan. 15–19 at the epicenter of Arizona Car Week at a new site, just south of the North 101 Freeway and Scottsdale Road.

Celebrating its 20th year, Russo and Steele will offer an ultra-rare 1985 Lamborghini Countach QV Downdraft at its 2020 Scottsdale auction.

Known as the most powerful Countach variant ever built, this particular model offers 455 bhp and was used as a factory press car and was the photo subject of the Downdraft brochure distributed at the 1985 Geneva Salon.

Fewer than one-third of all Countach models built were Downdraft variants and Russo Steele says that this model is without question the very best example of this variant to ever be presented at public auction anywhere.  It is 100 percent fully restored by California-based marque specialists at a cost of almost $300,000 to exact original specifications down to brand new Pirelli P7s and Ansa Sports Exhaust, which are all period-correct.  It even comes with original books and all tools complete.

Built in February 1985 in Iconic Bianco Polo Park with Rosso livery, this Countach Downdraft was the very first to be imported into the United States by Al Copeland, car enthusiast and multi-race winning offshore boat racer, and owner of Popeyes Chicken nationwide restaurants.  It was kept in Copeland’s New Orleans car museum for 15 years resulting in just 9,750 miles on the odometer.

“This is probably the most beautiful example of a Countach Downdraft you will see anywhere,” said Drew Alcazar, president and CEO of Russo and Steele.  “Even by today’s standards the car is quite powerful and even though it’s almost 35 years old, it’s design is time less and the stuff of supercar fantasy.”

Running Jan. 15–19, Russo and Steele will provide hundreds of top-quality collector cars for a variety of buyers at their new site in Scottsdale, just off the south side of the Loop 101 Freeway. Featuring the equivalent of five football fields of tents with easy access off the Scottsdale Road exit, acres of contiguous and close proximity parking will greet attendees along with valet parking directly at the main entrance.

For more information about Russo and Steele, visit www.russoandsteele.com or like them on Facebook and Instagram @RussoandSteele.

For more Arizona Car Week events, read: “49th Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction Rolls Into Town” on page 8.

Fine Art & Wine Festival Returns for 27th Annual Winter Event

“Blowhard” by bronze sculptor Jason Napier

More than 5,000 original works of art from 155 juried fine artists will be showcased Jan. 17–19 at the Thunderbird Artists’ 27th Annual Winter Carefree Fine Art & Wine Festival. The fine art festival will run along Ho Hum and Easy Streets in Downtown Carefree.

A popular event for locals and tourists alike, Thunderbird Artists’ Winter Carefree show was recently ranked No. 45 among the “Premier 100 Fine Art Events” throughout the nation by Greg Lawler’s Art Fair SourceBook.

“It’s an honor to receive such a prestigious industry accolade, and a true testament to the quality of our show,” said Denise Colter, president of Thunderbird Artists. “We love being a part of the Carefree community — people love strolling through the streets, meeting the artists, tasting wine and listening to live music. It’s a beautiful, serene setting, and our artists provide plenty of inspiration!”

In addition to a wide variety of paintings, sculptures, bronzes, sparkling hand-blown glass, wood, clay, metal, stone, gourds, batiks, scratchboard, one-of-a-kind handcrafted jewelry and exceptional photography, attendees are expected to be especially taken with the oil paintings of the event’s featured artist, Brent Flory.

“Hudson Bay Comfort” 24”x48” oil painting by Brent Flory

Oil painter Brent Flory enjoys learning about and painting the Wild West. Raised in Parker, Flory was always intrigued by the illustrations in picture books. His favorites depicted cowboys, farmers, ranchers, Native Americans and wildlife from the American West.

Flory finds subject matter for his life-like paintings all around him, especially in journal entries or historical books.

“Every life has a story, and some are just amazing,” says Flory. “People did what they had to do to survive. I try to capture that human experience.”

“Aspen Slope” by Nadine Booth

Each of Flory’s pieces are given a well thought out title to help people think about the paintings in a different way.

“Most artists hope that people will appreciate the beauty of their work,” says Flory. “I hope that my work makes people think, and that it makes them appreciate what we often take for granted.”

In addition to meeting award-winning artists and enjoying live musical performances, festival attendees can participate in a world-class wine tasting program. For $10, patrons will receive an engraved souvenir wine glass and six tasting tickets. Additional tasting tickets may be purchased for $1 each.

Carefree Fine Art & Wine Festival runs Fri. through Sun., Jan. 17–19, 10am–5pm daily. Admission is $3 for adults, and free for all Carefree residents and children 17 years or younger. Parking is free all weekend. For more information, call 480.837.5637 or visit www.thunderbirdartists.com.

Cartel Coffee Lab Heads North with Two New Phoenix Locations

The longstanding Tempe-based coffee purveyor, Cartel Coffee Lab, known for sourcing and roasting some of the best coffee from around the world is launching new locations in Paradise Valley and Uptown Phoenix. Located at the northeast intersection of Tatum and Shea, the Paradise Valley location is scheduled for a grand opening Dec. 20 . (Open holiday hours 7am–3pm through Christmas Eve; 6am–8pm regular hours.) Visitors can look forward to free coffee all day and a chance for one winner to receive free coffee for a year. The 1,200 square foot Paradise Valley location features a state of the art La Marzocco Linea PB espresso machine, draft cold brew and Chemex pour overs of rotating single origin coffees.

As a part of its continuing partnership with boutique hospitality brand ARRIVE Hotels, Cartel will be opening inside ARRIVE’s upcoming hotel at Fourth Avenue and Camelback in Uptown Phoenix in 2020. This will be the third in a series of successful cafe/hotel partnerships after locations in Palm Springs and Austin.

“We’ve always been cautious when it comes to choosing locations or partners; both of these new cafes represent a lot of consideration and these are two communities we are excited to grow with,” said Jason Silberschlag, owner and co-founder of Cartel.

Husband and wife Jason and Amy Silberschlag began Cartel 12 years ago with a mobile cart, which will now have expanded into 10 retail locations across three states supported by their two Arizona roasteries in Tempe and Tucson. “From day one, it’s been about neighborhood cafe culture first and foremost,” said Amy. “We can’t wait to make new friends in North Phoenix!”

It isn’t just the Silberschlags who are excited.

“I’m personally thrilled that they’ll be just across the street from me,” says Woo Jonathon, general manager of neighboring restaurant The Covenant. “I’m always up for more local business in Paradise Valley.”

The name Cartel Coffee Lab was inspired by oil cartels; instead of stifling competition, Cartel has an ambitious goal to band together like-minded coffee producers and professionals to drive customer appreciation for hard work and quality. To date, Cartel partners with 110 rotating coffee farms spread across the globe who are guaranteed to be paid 30 percent to 150 percent above their costs, far above pricing set by Fair Trade.

Through the years, Cartel has received recognition from the likes of Alton Brown, Vogue and Food & Wine as a gold standard in specialty coffee craft and service. The secret is in their 90 percent retail focus, which has allowed them to prioritize the experience of the end user in all their decisions.

For additional information, visit www.cartelcoffeelab.com or find Cartel Coffee Lab on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


Photos courtesy of Cartel Coffee Lab

Center For Medicaid and Medicare Services Extends Marketplace Open Enrollment Deadline to Dec. 18

After technical issues prevented some consumers from accessing the HealthCare.gov website on the final day of open enrollment for 2020 Marketplace insurance coverage, the Center For Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) made the decision to extend the enrollment deadline, and issued the following statement:

“CMS’s primary goal is to provide a seamless Open Enrollment experience for HealthCare.gov consumers and ensure that those Americans who want coverage offered through the Exchange can enroll in a plan. In an abundance of caution, to accommodate consumers who attempted to enroll in coverage during the final hours of Open Enrollment but who may have experienced issues, starting at 3:00PM EST today, December 16 we are extending the deadline to sign up for January 1 coverage until 3:00AM EST December 18. This additional time will give consumers the opportunity to come back and complete their enrollment for January 1 coverage. While the website and the call center remained open for business on December 15 with over half a million consumers enrolling throughout the day, some consumers were asked to leave their name at the call center.  Those consumers who have already left their contact information at the call center do not need to come back and apply during this extension because a call center representative will follow up with them later this week.”

World Hunger on the Rise — Causes, Consequences and Solutions

A map of all the countries Feed My Starving Children has partners in and is sending food to. The black dot on the far right is the country the volunteers were packing for at the facility in Mesa, Arizona, when the reporter visited. Photo: Jeff Rosenfield

—By Jeff Rosenfield

From 2005 to 2015, world hunger was decreasing, but it is once again on the rise.

Over two billion people do not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food, and in the past three years the number of people suffering from hunger has slowly increased, according to 2019 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SFSNW) report.

This report was authored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, UNICEF, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization.

The report measured the percentage of undernourished people in the world to represent global hunger. Undernourished people may have access to food that is not nutrient-rich.

While hunger is a physical discomfort due to not eating food for a time, undernutrition is a condition resulting from lack of necessary nutrients, usually obtained from food, according to World Hunger Education.

Hunger and undernutrition are results of food insecurity, when one has limited or unreliable access to healthy and nutritious foods.

“About two billion people in the world experience moderate to severe food insecurity,” according to the 2019 SFSNW report.

“The lack of regular access to nutritious and sufficient food that these people experience puts them at greater risk of malnutrition and poor health,” according to the 2019 SFSNW report, in which maternal and child undernutrition reportedly contributed to 45 percent of deaths in children under 5 years old.

“These nutrient deficiencies lead to a lack of function,” registered dietitian and lecturer for the Nutrition Program at the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University (ASU), Jessica Lehmann said.

The immune system can be suppressed if the “body doesn’t have enough protein to build antibodies,” Lehmann said.

Some examples of vital nutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, fats and water.

“If there’s not enough protein and not enough calories, then the body starts basically cannibalizing itself and its own proteins, in order to create enough energy to live,” Lehmann said.

The body will start by consuming the glycogen — or stored carbohydrates — and will ultimately consume its own skeletal muscles, Lehmann said.

Some other vital nutrients are vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, vitamin E, iron and zinc.

Vitamin A deficiency can result in blindness in children, according to Christy Alexon, a clinical associate professor at the College of Health Solutions at ASU.

“It’s completely heartbreaking,” Alexon said about the “number one preventable cause of childhood blindness.”

Vitamin A deficiency is preventable because there is enough nutritional food in the world.

According to Concern Worldwide U.S., Inc., “the world produces enough food to feed all 7.5 billion people.”

“Despite this, 1 in 9 people around the world go hungry each day,” according to Concern Worldwide U.S., a statistic confirmed in the 2019 SFSNW report.

“If you want to talk about why people are hungry, a lot of it is access to food,” Lehmann said.

Time and money are scarce, and people will often choose the cheaper meal, even if it is lacking nutrients, Lehmann said.

“Poverty is a huge reason,” Lehmann said.

In countries with greater income inequality, people with lower incomes spend a larger percentage of their income on food, according to the 2019 SFSNW report.

While enough food is produced worldwide, it is not readily available worldwide. As such, countries need to find a way to secure their own food source.

Countries lacking the necessary land and water resources to produce crops are forced to import, Mark Manfredo, a director and professor at the Morrison School of Agribusiness at the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU, said.

Even if a country can afford importing food, it may not be able to afford importing nutritious food, which is typically more expensive.

Any nutritious food that is imported will be more expensive than non-nutritious foods in the domestic markets, according to the 2019 SFSNW report.

A country that produces its own food is not necessarily better off, either.

Prices may fluctuate due to weather and natural disasters destroying crops. Food safety scares can also create a lot of volatility, Manfredo said.

Additionally, poorer countries have fewer incentives to offer farmers to increase production, Clifford Shultz, a professor at the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University, said.

Cambodia, as a previously communist country, used a model that “didn’t have incentives for farmers so they underperformed,” Shultz said.

Underperforming farmers hurt the economy, which also undermines efforts to end hunger and malnutrition, according to the 2019 SFSNW report.

“After they switched to a more market-oriented economies they were able to produce more food,” Shultz said.

Still, some countries have underperforming economies.

“In 2018, more than 96 million people in 33 countries suffering from acute food insecurity lived in places where economy had rising unemployment, lack of regular work, currency depreciation and high food prices,” according to the 2019 SFSNW report.

Another reason people have unequal access to food is war and violence.

Food waste and insecurity are greatly increased in times of war and violence.

“Food is a weapon,” Shultz said.

In war, “One of the first things you do is cut off the supply chain of your adversary,” Shultz said.

Destroying food supply chains causes crop failure and reduces the supply of food, and when the demand remains the same or increases, the result is an increase in food prices.

For example, South Sudan’s civil war has led to mass displacement and abandoned fields, resulting in crop failure. Combined with a soaring inflation rate, imported foods are unaffordable, leaving six million people food-insecure, according to Concern Worldwide U.S.

Many countries with food insecurity also face an increasing number of overweight people. This is not a result of well-nourished people overindulging.

“The most recent data show that obesity is contributing to 4 million deaths globally and is increasing the risk of morbidity for people in all age groups,” according to the 2019 SFSNW report.

“People are growing up and they’re just not sure where their next meal is coming from,” Lehmann said.

“It can create a very real need to make sure that someone has extra calories,” Lehmann said.

“Whenever food does appear they’re going to be much more likely to get as much as possible because they don’t know when their next meal is gonna arrive or be there,” Lehmann said.

Whether or not this food is nutritious is of little concern to the hungry person.

Countries around the world are food insecure and suffer from undernutrition, even though the world produces enough food to feed them all.

So, where does the excess food go?

It is wasted.

“Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted,” according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United States.

That is the equivalent of roughly 680 billion United States dollars being wasted annually.

“Food waste occurs at all points of the supply chain,” Manfredo said.

“Researchers and scientists and economists are all trying to address this problem,” he continued.

“There is a lot of agricultural investment right now, in new technologies, in land, in infrastructures and equipment, all of this to create more efficiency in food production.”

One example Manfredo gave was investments in robotics. Having a robot that can remove weeds from a farmer’s field could potentially remove the need for spraying chemicals and herbicides.

Another example was using data analytics to build models and predict how much fertilizer is needed for a field.

However, as Manfredo said earlier, “Food waste occurs at all points of the supply chain.”

Manfredo said waste occurs in fresh produce, in particular, as produce is not put on the market if it does not meet industry standards.

“Maybe it’s bruised or imperfect,” Manfredo said, “That’s the word they often use is imperfect.”

Imperfect Foods is a Public Benefit Corporation that sells groceries online and delivers them.

Imperfect Foods lists several reasons why a product may be classified as imperfect, including a product not being visually appealing or being outside the size parameter given by the buyer.

Usually, imperfect foods in the United States are discarded before they reach the market, not because they are unsafe to eat, but because they are significantly less marketable, meaning they are less likely to be bought by customers.

“People are demanding higher quality food,” Manfredo said.

Americans are particularly picky eaters, as Brian Hetzer from Feed My Starving Children, (FMSC) discovered.

FMSC has tried sending their Manapack bags to the Red Cross for disaster relief, such as hurricanes and flooding.

“The bottom line is most people in the U.S. won’t eat this,” Hetzer said.

Most people in the U.S. are used to high-quality food that tastes better.

In the U.S., “More times than not, the food ends up going to waste,” Hetzer said.

Because U.S. citizens are so particular, vendors must be very cautious about only using marketable foods.

Just because U.S. citizens do not want to eat imperfect food, does not mean hungry people around the world will not. So why is this excess food thrown away instead of being sent to those who need it?

Because it is cheaper.

“Getting it into the hands of someone to eat it isn’t free,” Harold McClarty, the owner of HMC Farms, said in a video clip used in the episode Food Waste (12:53) of “Last Week Tonight.”

“It’s a lot easier and cheaper to just throw it away,” McClarty said.

This behavior is not unique to the United States; it is practiced throughout the world.

Every year, consumers in rich countries waste about 222 million tonnes of food, according to the FAO.

Though much of the world’s food goes to waste, there are many organizations actively sending food and supplies to people in need.

Feed My Starving Children is one of these organizations.

They send Manapack rice to various countries in need.

“We pack 1 million meals a week,” Hetzer said, adding “there is still tremendous need.”

Feed My Starving Children has partner organizations around the globe in over 50 countries.

“There are other organizations that are willing to partner with us that we have to say no to because we can’t pack enough food to meet the additional need,” Hetzer said.

Moving food around the world is expensive, but FMSC does not charge its partner organizations for the food. They only pay for the shipping, Hetzer said.

Currently, FMSC cannot accept additional food partners because it does not have the money to purchase more food, beyond its commitments to its current partners.

FMSC said 999,110 children are fed each year because of volunteers and donors. The solution to world hunger is neither inexpensive nor easy, but it is more than a lack of food and resources.

The “problem is really one more of will rather than a lack of technology or resources,” Shultz said.


Jeff Rosenfield is a student at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Nook Kitchen Re-opens in New Arcadia Location

Nook Kitchen in Arcadia re-opened Dec. 3 in a larger location at 4231 East Indian School Road, Phoenix, a half mile down the road from its original spot.

Nook’s first restaurant opened in Fall 2013 on the southeast corner of 36th Street and Indian School. The restaurant was a small, cozy space in Arcadia and evolved into Nook Kitchen to distinguish it as a restaurant instead of what some thought was a bookstore.

Nook Kitchen offers original recipes and a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

The new location will be larger with 3,400 square feet compared to the original at 2,000 square feet. New interiors are a mix of glam and comfort, with overlays of Italian tradition in a decidedly modern setting.

“Our food is Modern American with Italian roots,” said Frank Vairo, owner of Nook Kitchen along with Chef Nick LaRosa and S. Barrett Rinzler of Square One Concepts. “The new interiors tell a similar story with the help of our in-house designers, CK Studio. Nook Kitchen’s iconic blue door welcomes you into the newly renovated space that has been dramatically transformed into an intimate dining experience. The interior is refined and sophisticated with a mix of dark and monochromatic patterns accented with pops of red and brass. The bold Instagram mural located on the front face of the building is sure to grab one’s eye and direct them into the chic and stylish new build.”

The new location has a larger black marble bar, and a larger dining area overall featuring large booths to accommodate big parties, and a floor-to-ceiling upholstered wall of banquettes that delivers inviting spaces for guests to enjoy leisurely, cozy dining.

A pizza counter invites diners to watch pizza-making action up close with the golden Acunto M. Napoli pizza oven imported from Naples, Italy, said to be the birthplace of pizza. Designed and built by hand by the Acunto family over four generations for more than 125 years, the authentic pizza oven is said to be “foundational” to the development of pizza itself.

Rinzler, president and CEO of Square One Concepts, and partner in this venture added: “The food is fantastic at Nook. The neighborhood is incredible and we’re delighted to join Frank and Nick on this newest version of Nook Kitchen. We know everyone in the area has been waiting for us to open and we’re pleased that Nick is at it again, delivering an excellent menu.”

Nook Kitchen in Arcadia presents a new menu, too, of modern American selections by Chef LaRosa, ranging from handcrafted pastas including Spaghetti and Meatballs, a lighter Ricotta Gnocchi and Joe’s Lasagna, in addition to entrees such as Espresso Rubbed Prime Filet, “Everything Salmon,” a combo of short rib and sirloin in a Handcrafted Burger, with plenty of tempting “beginnings” that include a popular holdover from the previous Nook Kitchen “Arancini” but adding Brussels Chips and Fried Calamari, among others. The new roster features refreshing custom cocktails and a wine list that doesn’t disappoint.

Nook Kitchen retains its celebrated location in Downtown Phoenix inside the Hilton Garden Inn, one that earned a 2016 Foodist Award by AZ BIG Media, and critically noted by Phoenix New Times for its city views, being among best new restaurants, Top 5 Places to Eat, among other accolades. The Vairo-LaRosa duo intend to continue the quality flavors that have earned them critical acclaim.

Nook Kitchen is located at 4231 East Indian School Road. Visit nookkitchen.com for more information.

Arizona Responds to Maternal Mortality Rates

—By Jeff Rosenfield

UA College of Medicine-Phoenix held an event last night to address the rising maternal mortality rates in the United States and how Arizona is combating the crisis.

Dr. Kendra Gray poses for a photo before giving a presentation on maternal mortality rates in the United States and how Arizona is combating it. Gray gave her presentation at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Education Building in Phoenix, Arizona, Dec. 4. Photo: Jeff Rosenfield

Dr. Kendra Gray, a clinical instructor and maternal fetal medicine fellow of the UA College of Obstetrics and Gynecology discuss the trends in maternal mortality and what can be done about it. 

“In the United States there’s an estimated 700 women a year who will die from pregnancy or birth related causes,” Gray said. “That number is absolutely crazy to me.”

Every one of those numbers is a person, is a mom. Heart disease and stroke cause one in three deaths, she said.

Other causes of death during pregnancy can include hemorrhage, infection, blood clots in the lungs, anesthetic complications, cardiomyopathy, substance abuse and obesity, she said.

“More than 80 percent of all maternal deaths in Arizona are believed to have been preventable. Not all of them are preventable, but 80 percent is really, really high and so we have to figure out what we can do to fix that,” she said.

Gray cited findings by the CDC, including roughly one-third maternal mortalities happen while pregnant, one-third occur within one week of delivery and one-third occur within a year after delivery.

“There has been no improvement [of the U.S. maternal mortality rate] in roughly 25 years,” she said. “We’re still doing worse than many of our comparative first-world countries.”

According to Gray, Arizona has made some positive changes.

Arizona is one of nine states to receive $2.1 million grant per year for five years from the Health Resources and Services Administration at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that will be used to collect more data in a “more timely fashion,” Gray said.

Gov. Doug Ducey established an advisory committee to combat maternal mortality, in April.

The 13-member advisory committee provides recommendations for enhancing data collection and reporting on maternal mortality, according to a press release.

“We’re one of 25 states to receive an award for $450,000 per year, for a five-year period from the CDC, related to preventing maternal deaths,” Gray said. “We’ve had Medicaid expansion, we report our maternal mortality rate by race.”

The state of Arizona has been cited in multiple American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists practice bulletins and is being looked at as a model for other states to start to mimic some of what we’re doing, Gray said.

According to Gray, Arizona decided to join the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health, which provides packages with “checklists” on how to manage various hypertensive disorders and emergencies systematically in hospitals.

“In the states that these bundles have been tried out in, the mortality and morbidity have decreased dramatically,” Gray said.

The University of Arizona and Banner University also run many simulations of medical emergencies, including maternal mortality related issues, so future nurses and doctors will be prepared, Gray said.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists American also has its own initiatives to reduce maternal mortality rates, including optimizing postpartum, designating levels of maternal care and advocating more for maternal mortality, Gray said.

Dr. Shirley Savai specializes in Gynecology and Maternal and Fetal Medicine, and Obstetrics and Gynecology at Banner Health.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Savai said. “Compared to European women, our women get twice as many chronic illnesses during pregnancies.” 

Bryce Munter, a third-year medical student at the college and audience member, said she knew maternal mortality was a problem, but she did not know the severity of it.

Philip Maykowski, a third-year medical student at the college and audience member, said Gray’s lecture reinforced how behind we are on maternal mortality, in terms of understanding and preventing it, and that one can focus on it more when going into training.

“We need to give better care to women in general in our country, in particular reproductive age women,” Gray said. “Losing just one mom at all is really, really devastating.”


Jeff Rosenfield is a student at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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