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Citizen Public House

Chef Bernie Kantak blends perfection at Citizen Public House

If dining was baseball, Chef Bernie Kantak has pitched a perfect game with Citizen Public House.

For years, Kantak’s devotees have praised former Cowboy Ciao mastermind’s culinary genius. But with Citizen Public House, which is located in a relaxed and stylish renovated building in Old Town Scottsdale’s Fifth Avenue Shops, Kantak has exceeded the expectations of even his biggest fans. The atmosphere — steel-topped bar, polished concrete floor, large wooden rafters supporting a high ceiling — is wonderful. The service — our waiter, Sam, may be the most accommodating, knowledgeable server in the Valley— is exceptional. And the food is that from which dreams are made. At Citizen Public House, Kantak has taken standard American favorites and reinvented them with a boldness and creativity that is without parallel.

When we go to review a restaurant, we order a variety of appetizers, entrées and desserts to get a overall sense of the menu. There are always a couple clunkers that miss the mark. But at Citizen Public House, every dish was superb. Every dish was a mouth-watering masterpiece. It shouldn’t have been a surprise. Even the most critical foodies should know they are in for a treat when a restaurant’s specialty salad has its own Facebook page.

While Citizen Public House’s menu is a single page, it comes with the knowledge that ever appetizer, every entrée and every dessert is well thought out and defines perfection. Diners can blindfold themselves and point to the menu and know they will have the best meal of their lives.

That said, if you feel compelled to have some direction before you dine at Citizen Public House, these dishes all came highly recommended from Sam and anyone who has ever tried them will vouch for their deliciousness.

The Pork Belly Pastrami ($13) — which Sam described as a deconstructed Reuben sandwich — features pork belly, rye spaetzle, Brussels sprout sauerkraut and mustard jus has become somewhat of a legendary appetizer. One bite will tell you why.

The Chia Seared Tuna ($16) — came highly recommended by Sam. It is served on a bed of Thai purple sticky rice, asparagus puree, fried leek and micro green salad. It is perfectly seared. The chia seeds give it an amazing crunch. Combined with the spicy puree and rice and the dish is a burst of flavors in your mouth.

The Original Chopped Salad ($12) which is so popular that it has it’s own Facebook page — hands down the best salad you will ever eat. The salad features perfect rows dried corn, couscous, smoked salmon, Asiago cheese, pumpkin seeds, tomatoes, arugula and currants that are tossed together at the table with a tasty buttermilk pesto. One word of advice: Order your own. You won’t want to share.

The Pan Seared Scallops ($28)  are presented so perfectly that it looks like you’re about to bite into the pages of a fine dining magazine. The scallops were served with tender Belly Hampshire bacon, roasted corn grits, wilted snow pea greens and cola gastrique. If you can imagine biting into a tab of scallop-flavored butter, that’s kind of how the perfectly prepared scallops melt in your mouth.

The Venison Strip Loin ($38)  is served with a beet crust, celery root purée, snap peas, fennel oil, pomegranate seeds and burnt honey jus. The taste is amazing and will quickly make your short list of favorites.

Beyond the amazing food, Citizen Public House also excels with libations that perfectly complement the menu items.

As we were leaving Citizen Public House’s parking lot, we were already planning our next visit. One bite of any of the restaurant’s amazing dishes and you will do the same.

Southern Cross Ranch. Listing Courtesy Of Kevin Owens, Best REALTOR® In Town
11250 E. Arabian Park Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85259

Agent Kevin Owens holds the key to living in luxury

KevinOwenshighbwKevin Owens understands the finer things in life ― he sells some of the nicest homes in the Valley to some of the most affluent residents in Arizona. The Scottsdale native, who works with Coldwell Banker, has been in the business for nearly six years. His family has a history in Valley real estate that spans about 30 years.

“One of my favorite things (about real estate) is negotiating multiple offers on one of my listings,” he says. “That is when the true fun starts for me!”

Scottsdale Living caught up with our Spring 2014 Best Realtor in Town about what it takes to be one of the top 6 percent of agents worldwide for sales production and his own “Top 5” places in Scottsdale.

How long have you worked in real estate?
I earned my real estate license in 2008 and have been with Coldwell Banker since day one of obtaining my license. My family has more than three decades of experience in residential real estate in the Valley, so it was a natural fit for me. I earned “Rookie of the Year” for the entire Phoenix metro area my first year, which was a difficult year ― and when many agents were leaving the industry. Starting during a down market really taught me to focus on key business fundamentals to grow my business.

When did you begin showing luxury homes?
During my first year in the business, I earned the opportunity to partner with two of Scottsdale’s top-producing luxury agents. These partnerships introduced me to representing luxury properties. I soon learned the intricacies of working with high-net-worth individuals and mastered the art of selling luxury estates.

Would you say the industry is more tight-knit or larger than people may realize?
I would actually say that the local real estate industry is a bit of both. With more than 28,000 real estate agents in the Valley, we have a pretty large number of people in our industry. However, not all of these agents actively sell real estate as their full-time job. Those of us who do make it our career are a little more tight-knit than many people may realize. We often encounter working with the same agents on cross sales or in networking.

Networking with other agents has actually helped me a lot in my business. In fact, I recently sold a home before it went on MLS because of my relationship with the agent who was representing the buyer. We had one showing and the property sold for full list price before it even went on MLS!

Did you represent other types of residences before you broke into the luxury side of home sales? What’s one of the biggest professional differences for you?
Although I specialize in luxury homes, I do work with all different types of people and homes in all different price points. I also work with developers in representing their new home communities. One of the biggest professional differences in working with high-net-worth individuals is that we often do not work directly with the client themselves. Sometimes our direct communication is with their business manager or personal assistant who makes business decisions on their behalf.

What has been a particularly memorable sale/experience?
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with several celebrities and professional athletes. But, I would have to say that the most memorable sales for me are when I get the chance to truly help a family. Home sales and purchases tend to be the biggest transactions of peoples’ lives so it is a pleasure to be a part of that!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received or personal mantra for your professional life?
I am definitely a believer in the “Law of Attraction” for both my personal and business life. If we put positive energy into the universe, it will come back to us!

What are some properties you are currently showing?
I am currently marketing a 5-acre luxury equestrian estate that is on Arabian Park Drive – known within the horse community as the “Rodeo Drive” of equestrian estates. The house recently went through a complete overhaul renovation and has incredible entertaining spaces. I also have a new luxury listing coming on the market in north Scottsdale that was designed and built by an artist. It truly feels like an “artisan” custom home with architectural details throughout coupled with incredible views!

What are your top 5 favorite things/places in Scottsdale?
Well, I like to dine out and explore new restaurants, so many of those would be restaurants.
1. AZ88 – such a landmark, great food, and one of my favorite outdoor patios
2. iPic – love the reclining seats, pillow/blanket, and cocktails during movies
3. Citizen Public House – warm ambiance and the best Chopped Salad in town
4. Sanctuary on Camelback – elements has some of the best hospitality in town and the resort has incredible views
5. Orange Sky at Talking Stick – such an experience, dramatic views of the wild horses and sunsets

Interested in buying or selling with Kevin? Contact Kevin at 480.217.9184 or kevin@fineAZliving.com

The Joy Bus

Joy Bus Brings Food, Smiles To Cancer Patients

Rafael Figueroa, 48, suffers from stage-four colon and liver cancer, Wagner’s disease, pancreatic cysts and valley fever. But despite his ailing health, Rafael smiles every Friday at the sight of Jennifer Caraway and her free, home-cooked meal.

Caraway is the president of the Joy Bus, a non-for-profit organization she founded offering free, hand-delivered, home-cooked food to home-bound cancer patients. The Joy Bus started in 2011 after Caraway witnessed the struggles her friend Joy went through battling cancer, which killed her in February.

“It was something I was doing for her before she passed,” Caraway says, “and I just realized while doing it there are a lot of people out there that needed help as well.”

Rafael became a Joy Bus recipient after an insurance agent told his family about the service, says Mindy Figueroa, Rafael’s daughter.

“Every Friday, [Jennifer] would bring a healthy meal, and my dad loves it,” Figueroa says.
Her family struggled to locate healthy food recipes online, and Caraway’s meals served as a way to both educate and relieve stress.

“Literally, it’s a blessing; it’s one less day we have to worry and figure out what we’re going to have my dad eat,” Figueroa says. “It’s something to look forward to, and even though he’s suffering you can see a smile come up every Friday.”

The Joy Bus serves a need that isn’t facilitated by anyone else, says Lynne McGowan, a cancer case manager who sits on the Joy Bus’s board of directors.

“There are hospice services for people with cancer; there is Meals on Wheels that charges people for those services, but Joy Bus is a unique service, and it’s a support service by families that are impacted significantly by a cancer diagnosis,” McGowan says. “This service helps them maintain at least a piece of their normal ‘living’ if you will.”

The Joy BusThe Joy Bus is currently serving seven cancer patients, but Caraway says she’ll help anyone who is home-bound; the main emphasis is on cancer because of Joy’s affliction. Most of the clients are recommended through physicians or medical experts, but a client eligibility form is available on the Joy Bus’s website.

“The only reason I would deny anyone is that I can’t afford to feed them,” Caraway says. “Right now I can fit probably two more people in, but I wouldn’t deny anybody; I’d just end up paying for it out of my own purse.”

So far, Caraway has been financing the Joy Bus off a donation by the Case Management Society of America’s Arizona Chapter.

As for meals, each meal costs between $5 and $10 to produce, Caraway says.

One of the Joy Bus's chef-inspired meals.Bernie Kantak, owner of the restaurant Citizen Public House, and a Joy Bus board member, offers Caraway cooking advice and helps locate sponsors.

“I tell her to cook like I do,” Kantak says. “I try to make people happy.”

Caraway is picky and cognoscente about the food and service she gives, and tries to use the healthiest ingredients at her disposal, McGowan says. Most of the foods Caraway cooks contain a focus around increasing a patient’s protein, vegetable and legume intake.

Caraway says although some of the ingredients can get expensive when cooking for seven people, Joy inspired her to continue operating the Joy Bus regardless of the financial challenge.

“I am never ever, ever going to get to a position where I have to charge somebody for a meal,” Caraway says. “I don’t care if I have to do car washes every week, there’s no way in hell I would charge somebody for the service that I’m doing; they’re going through so much already. It’s not even an option.”

For more information about the Joy Bus, visit thejoybus.org.

Scottsdale Culinary Festival

Behind The Scenes: Scottsdale Culinary Festival [VIDEO]

From April 17 to the 22nd, Valley residents flocked to Scottsdale to wine, dine and let loose for one of the biggest culinary festivals in the area — the Scottsdale Culinary Festival. With a wide range of events, Scottsdale Living went behind the scenes to capture the chaos and excitement both before and during the event.

Chefs from well known restaurants, including the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, Eddie’s House, Talavera at the Four Seasons, Citizen Public House, T. Cook’s and so much more, were present to show off their culinary skills and fare to satiate the appetites of attendees.

Scottsdale Living even took a moment to speak with James Moser of the Scottsdale League for the Arts, who discussed all the preparation and work that goes into creating such a successful, annual event. We’ve also captured footage behind the curtains of the fashion show at the Eat, Drink & Be Pretty event.

Take a look for yourself of all of the food, fashion and fun from the Scottsdale Culinary Festival:

Video by Josh Estes and Michael Gossie

For more information about the Scottsdale Culinary Festival, visit scottsdalefest.org.

Citizen Public House, The Original Chopped Salad

Chef Kantak Of Citizen Public House Dishes About His Salad Favorites

When your salad has its own Facebook page, that’s when you know you’ve made a culinary Citizen Public House, Chef Bernie Kantakimpact; and Chef Bernie Kantak of Citizen Public House in Old Scottsdale is living proof of it.

After years of chefs — both locally and nationally — replicating and recreating his Original Chopped Salad, Kantak jokingly created a Facebook page for it, immediately following a chat with a friend, on Facebook. Since then, Citizen Public House no longer lists the ingredients of the salad on the menu; instead, the restaurant displays the web address for the salad’s Facebook page.

The Original Chopped Salad is considered just that, original and unique. When Peter Kasperski, the owner of Cowboy Ciao, decided the salad needed a fresh look and taste, Kantak took on the challenge. Inspired by a fennel soup with sweet dried corn and salmon, Kantak “liked the combination and herbatiousness of the soup,” and redeveloped it into the salad it is today.

After just two weeks on the menu, Cowbow Ciao sold more than 100 salads a day, and it continues to be the top seller at Citizen Public House.

The Original Chopped Salad has a seemingly abnormal combination of ingredients, including corn, salmon, couscous, asiago, pepitas, tomatoes, currants and arugula. Patrons can then drizzle the salad with buttermilk pesto dressing.

“When you first tell people what’s in it, it doesn’t really sound very good,” Kantak says. “But once they have it, it becomes magical to people. People go bananas for it.”

Kantak says it’s the combination of flavor and texture that keeps diners coming back for more, or intrigued enough to try it for the first time.

The Original Chopped Salad, Chef Kantak“I think it’s the combination of how everything is so different,” Kantak says, “but it comes together really beautifully, especially with the colors.”

This is why Kantak advises for your next salad to be adventurous and try different things. For instance, instead of croutons, Kantak substitutes potato chips.

“You can have a salad with two ingredients in it, and it can taste great; and then there’s the Original Chopped Salad that has a lot of elements into it,” Kantak says. “I think it’s the way things harmonize with one another. Don’t be afraid to try everything, and just think outside the box.”

For those looking to whip up a simple salad for lunch or a pre-dinner treat, Kantak recommends combining tomatoes, a little bit of red onion, basil, balsamic extra virgin olive oil, salt and cracked pepper.

But what makes a great salad are fresh ingredients, Kantak says, which can be found at various farmer’s markets around the Valley.

“Definitely the Scottsdale Farmer’s Market and the farmer’s market downtown,” Kantak says. “I really like to go to the market at the Chinese Cultural Center; they have stuff you just aren’t going to find in a grocery store.”

Kantak’s favorite salad? His own Mirliton Chopped Salad, which combines chayote, snow pea greens, grape tomato, cucumber-onion salad, heirloom popcorn, grilled halloumi cheese and parsley-garlic dressing.

“People are surprised by the heirloom popcorn,” Kantak says. “The Greek grilled cheese is grilled and has a nice smokiness; and the cucumbers are light, refreshing and summery.”

Try the Original Chopped Salad or The Mirliton Chopped Salad, both found on the Citizen Public House menu.

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If You Go: Citizen Public House

7111 E. 5th Ave, Ste. E, Scottsdale
(480) 398-4208