Celebrate National Rum Day & Mai Tai Day at Hula’s Modern Tiki

National Rum Weekend lineup, L-R: Cuba Libre, Coco’s Paradise and Duke’s Daiquiri; Photos courtesy of Hula’s Modern Tiki

It has been a long, hot summer, and Hula’s Modern Tiki  wants to help Valley residents beat the heat this month by celebrating both National Rum Day (Aug. 16) and National Mai Tai Day (Aug. 30) with a trio of featured tiki cocktails. Hula’s is even extending both Rum Day and Mai Tai Day into a full weekend of festive fun.

Offered at all three of its locations (Uptown Phoenix, Downtown Scottsdale and High Street), National Rum Day will be extended from Friday, Aug. 14, through Sunday, Aug. 16. Served from open to close, enjoy three featured cocktails including the Cuba Libre and a classic twist on the Daiquiri.

Hula’s lays claim “the Valley’s tastiest Mai Tai” (boasting more than 300,000 sold since 2009). So, they’ve also extended National Mai Tai Day to all weekend long and are offering three all-new twists on the Mai Tai, alongside the classic Signature Mai Tai, Friday, Aug. 28, through Sunday, Aug. 30 (from open to close). Specialty featured cocktails are only offered for dine-in service.

Plus, for folks not quite ready to break “quaran-tiki,” all three locations are offering carryout food and drink, including Hula’s Signature Mai Tai. Takeout is not offered during weekend brunch (10:30am-2:30pm, Saturday and Sunday).

Hula’s Modern Tiki pairs signature tropical drinks with from-scratch Polynesian-style foods such as spicy rice bowls and fresh fish tacos, at three Valley locations. To find additional information, including the restaurant’s current safety protocols, visit hulasmoderntiki.com.

Valley Chef Opens Fast-Casual Eatery: Stratta Kitchen

Rizi Bizi

Chickpea & Herb Hummus

Sicilian Caponata

Beets & Apples

Chef Alex Stratta’s seasonal Mediterranean-style dishes will be available to Valley diners for dine-in, takeout or delivery beginning Monday, Aug. 3.

North Scottsdale’s Stratta Kitchen serves up what the restaurant describes as “fresh, seasonal and chef-crafted fare,” led by the James Beard Award-winning chef. In partnership with the Genuine Concepts restaurant group, Stratta Kitchen will be open daily for lunch and dinner, available for dine-in, takeout or delivery via online ordering. Stratta, who also starred on “Iron Chef America” and earned a prestigious two Michelin stars for his eponymous eatery in Las Vegas, has personally handcrafted his menu to offer a “deliciously approachable” twist on flavorful Mediterranean fare, with most dishes priced at less than $12.

So why did this award-winning chef ditch fine dining to open his own fast-casual kitchen?

“Today’s diners are looking for high quality, natural and flavorful food that’s both convenient and accessible,” Stratta said in a statement. “The Mediterranean approach to cooking is sunny, inherently healthy, light and full of flavor focusing on fresh, seasonal and optimum quality ingredients.”

Stratta developed the Statta Kitchen ethos during his own health journey, overcoming colon cancer, changing his lifestyle and losing close to 100 pounds in the process. To regain his health, Stratta gravitated towards a natural, whole foods approach to cooking and eating.

To ensure that the service and atmosphere at Statta Kitchen are as warm, and welcoming as the bill of fare, the chef partnered with Phoenix-based Genuine Concepts, the neighborhood-focused restaurant group behind The Vig, The Little Woody, The Womack, Ladera Taverna y Cocina and The McMillan.

The menu includes naturally dairy-free, gluten-free and vegetarian options, with the goal of catering to a number of dietary needs and preferences without limitation. Broken down into To Share or Not to Share, Greens, Grains and The Goods, the menu also offers a selection of house-made specialty sauces to adorn any meal. Plus, the quick-serve setting will allow diners to pop in, order and go about their day, or sit and relax with a glass of wine of a craft beer.

Stratta Kitchen is located at 8260 N. Hayden Road, Suite A102, inside the Mercado on Hayden shopping center in Scottsdale. For more information call 480.597.9195. Find Stratta’s menu by visiting strattakitchen.com.

Photos courtesy of Stratta Kitchen

Kitchen Insider: Chef Deborah Schneider – SOL Cocina

ChefDebThis month, step into the kitchen of executive chef Deborah Schneider from SOL Cocina. Her Cactus Pear Ceviche offers a light and flavorful transition into fall.

Dubbed by Bon Appétit magazine as “the reigning queen of San Diego chefs” and nominated for a coveted 2009 James Beard Foundation Award for her second of five cookbooks, chef Deborah Schneider brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her role as executive chef and partner of Mexican restaurants SOL Cocina (Newport Beach,and Scottsdale) and solita (Huntington Beach). Schneider draws upon her rich culinary background and more than 25 years of professional cooking experience to bring the wonderful tastes and relaxing beach vibe of the Baja Peninsula.

Schneider’s passion for Baja was stoked by countless surf trips down the Peninsula. There, at small street stands and on pristine beaches, she discovered flavorful, healthy cuisine, rich with fresh seafood and inventive preparations that are at the heart of her restaurants.
In August 2012, Schneider released her fifth cookbook, The Mexican Slow Cooker: Recipes for Mole, Enchiladas, Carnitas, Chile Verde Pork, and More Favorites. Packed with Schneider’s favorite south-of-the-border recipes, the cookbook delivers sophisticated meals and complex flavors, all with the ease and convenience that have made slow cookers enormously popular.
Schneider began her culinary career while traveling through Europe in the early 1980s. While living in Athens, Greece, Schneider spent a year working as a chef on a succession of luxury charter yachts and later worked as a yacht chef in Florida and the Caribbean before switching coasts and settling in San Diego in 1983. San Diego is where Schneider made a culinary name for herself.

SOL Cocina Scottsdale is located at 15323 North Scottsdale Road. For more information, visit www.solcocina.com.


Serve on a square blue plate


3 oz fish dicedCeviche
¼ teaspoon salt
2 limes
1 ½  teaspoons minced serranos
2 purple scoops diced cucumber
1 purple scoop small diced jicama
1 tablespoon diced onion (no cilantro)
2 tablespoons cactus pear puree
8 very thin slices – red and orange sweet fresno chiles
¼ Hawaiian papaya, ½-inch dice (about 1/3 cup)
1/8 avocado, diced

Combine fish, lime, salt, serrano, cucumber, jicama and onion
Stir in cactus pear puree
Spread out on small blue glass plate
Top with sliced peppers
Top with diced papaya and avocado
Serve with: Plantain chips

Peel plantains  (ripe but firm plantains )
Cut in half
Thinly slice
Deep fry

Kitchen Insider: TapHouse Kitchen


Executive Chef Patrick Karvis from TapHouse Kitchen

Executive Chef Patrick Karvis from TapHouse Kitchen

This month, step into the kitchen of executive chef Patrick Karvis from TapHouse Kitchen in Scottsdale. His Grilled Salmon is one of the restaurants most popular dishes and perfect for something light and savory during the summertime.

Executive chef Patrick Karvis began his career in Florida as a dishwasher at The Fish Market. Karvis knew right away that he wanted to cook. The opportunity came one night when the chef asked him to fill a position on the line. Karvis accepted and the rest is history.  He started his culinary journey in 1992 at the O’rangie, now known as Wright’s at the Arizona Biltmore, as pantry and hot appetizers chef and made his way to kitchen manager in a little over a year.  Later accepting a sous chef position at Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn under chef Michael DeMaria, chef Karvis learned organizational skills, which is critical to being successful in the culinary industry.

In 1996 Karvis took those skills and joined chef Eddie Matney at Eddie’s Grill in Phoenix and later at Matney’s restaurant.  In 2001 Karvis was hired as executive chef for the Talking Stick Golf Club’s Wildhorse Grille.  During that time, Karvis has redeveloped the menu, instituted regular wine dinners and built a solid reputation for himself in Arizona.  With his energetic personality and open-minded approach to cooking, Karvis has made himself well known in the Arizona Culinary community for his phenomenal menus and large following at the Wildhorse Grille.

Now at the forefront of the newly opened TapHouse Kitchen, Karvis committed to serving only the finest, freshest ingredients while partnering with purveyors that use sustainable growing methods and organic hormone free feed. TapHouse Kitchen’s signature dishes include Creek Stone Beef Sliders & Creek Stone Burger Salad, Jerked Chicken Salad, Walleye Pike Fish and Chips, Drunken Shrimp, Beef Short Rib and Grilled Scottish Salmon. For dessert people can tempt their taste buds with the Manhattan Pecan Tart served with kitchen made Brandy Alexander ice cream.

TapHouse Kitchen is located at 6137 North Scottsdale Rd, Suite 108, at Hilton Village. For more information, call 480.656.0012 or visit www.taphousekitchen.com.

Grilled Salmon with warm baby kale, arugula, hydro watercress with lemon, garlic, fennel and red chimichurri

Serves 4

4 ea. 6oz. portions of Scottish salmonTapHouse Kitchen - Salmon Entree-sm

For the Chimichurri

3 ea. Red pepper small diced

2 ea. Red Fresno chili small diced

.5 red onion small diced

1 tsp. chipotle pepper in adobe sauce

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. chopped oregano

1 tsp. chopped Italian parsley

Splash of red wine vinegar

1 oz. olive oil

1 tsp. smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

In a small pan sauté the peppers, garlic, and onion with a little olive oil and cook on low heat until the mix becomes soft. Let cool for about 5 minutes the puree in a food processor with the remainder of the ingredients. Should be salsa like consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to serve salmon.

For the Kale Mixture

1 handful of baby kale

1 handful baby arugula

1 handful hydro watercress

1 bulb of fennel thinly sliced on a mandolin

1 tsp. minced garlic

Juice from one lemon

1 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper

To begin the dish, season the salmon with salt and pepper. Grill on a hot grill…about 4 minutes on each side. Sauté the fennel in a medium hot pan with the olive oil, cook this for about 2 minutes then add the kale, arugula, watercress, garlic and cook this for another minute or until wilted. Finish with lemon and salt and pepper. Place the kale mix onto a plate and top with the salmon and serve with the red chimichurri sauce. Enjoy!

Photos by Anthony TerBush

Kitchen Insider: Cibo e Vino

john-colluraThis month, step into the kitchen of executive chef John Collura from Cibo e Vino in Scottsdale, and learn his recipe for Short Ribs – perfect for a Father’s Day get-together.

Cibo e Vino, is locally owned and offers eclectic authentic Italian food in a family friendly environment. There is no disputing that executive chef John Collura knows his Italian food. Collura may have been a Brooklyn boy but his roots start back in Sicily. His great-great grandmother came to the United States on a boat through Ellis Island in 1905. Nana Coni, as he called her, cooked for the entire family once a week until she was 95 years old. That was the beginning of Collura’s journey. He learned to cook with Nana Coni every Sunday as he stood by her side while she prepared dinner for 40 family members.

As Collura grew so did his passion for cooking. He opened up Cosmic Pizza and Deli and then Giovanni Pizza and Bistro. Giovanni Pizza and Bistro was a huge success and went on to be named as one of Phoenix’s top 20 restaurants.

When Collura turned 40, he sold his restaurants and went to Le Cordon Bleu. He earned his associate degree in only one year with a 4.0 GPA while winning several cooking contest along the way.

Cibo e Vino is located at 34522 North Scottsdale Road, Suite D1, in Scottsdale. For more information, call 480.595.6600 or visit www.ciboevinoaz.com.

Chef John Collura’s Short Rib Recipe

collura-short-rib1 each short rib                                                           1 cup spinach

1 cup risotto                                                                3 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp mozzarella                                                       1 Tbsp white wine

1 Tbsp romano                                                            1 cup port wine

1 Tbsp asiago                                                              1 cup demi glaze

1 Tbsp cream                                                              1 Tsp garlic

salt and pepper



  1. In a skillet, heat risotto, white wine, 1 Tbsp butter and cream
  2. Add romano, mozzarella and asiago to risotto
  3. Season to taste

Demi Glaze

  1. Reduce port wine to au sec
  2. Add demi glaze and reduce by 75 percent
  3. Mount with 1 Tbsp butter and serve


  1. In a skillet, melt 1 Tbsp butter
  2. Add spinach and wilt
  3. Season with garlic and salt and pepper to taste
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