1. MARK TARBELL, TARBELL’S Chef and restaurateur Mark Tarbell has taken over as host of Check, Please! Arizona, the wildly popular food show on Channel 8 (KAET). He replaces chef Robert McGrath, who held the host spot for five years. Each week, Tarbell interviews three guests who offer opinions of three local restaurants. Luckily, the restaurant that bears Tarbell’s name will not be reviewed—that episode aired in season two. 3213 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, 602.955.8100
2. LISA DAHL, DAHL RESTAURANT GROUP Sedona's Dahl Restaurant Group has swept Wine Spectator Magazine’s 2016 awards with Awards of Excellence for all three of its fine dining restaurants, including Dahl & DiLuca, Cucina Rustica and Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill. “Creating and maintaining the wine programs at each of my restaurants has been a labor of love and is something I am incredibly proud of,” Dahl says.
3. RICHARD HINOJOSA, CRUJIENTE TACOS When a classically trained chef opens a taco shop, it’s destined to offer something a cut above the rest. At CRUjiente Tacos, chef Richard Hinojosa dishes out a varied mix of a la carte tacos that range from Korean chicken to crunchy lamb. A recent taco de la semana featured crispy squid, heirloom tomato, wild arugula and lemon pepper aioli. 3961 E. Camelback Road, 602.687.7777
4. SCOTT CONANT, MORA ITALIAN Chef Scott Conant had a flair for casting culinary critiques as a judge on Food Network’s Chopped and earned praise for his Scarpetta restaurant in New York City. He and his family recently moved to the Valley to open Mora Italian in midtown Phoenix with Stefano Fabbri of Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana. Together, the duo hopes to create a casual, modern osteria like no other. 5651 N. Seventh St., Phoenix
5. CHRIS MCKINLEY, CHICO MALO Chef Chris McKinley (formerly of Atlas Bistro and The Local) is at it again with Chico Malo, an energetic upscale taqueria at CityScape in downtown Phoenix. His menu for the newly formed Culture Shock Hospitality group takes a tour through South America, with Peruvian crudos, street corn, chilaquiles and, of course, a wide variety of gourmet tacos. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. 50 W. Jefferson St., Ste. 100, Phoenix