About Us

James Blunt (Epic Chefs) outside grilling.

Click here to see our interview with ShoutOut Arizona!

It was late 2016, when we packed all our worldly possessions into a 26′ moving truck and began the cross-country trek from WA State through Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Nevada and finally, to the Phoenix Valley in Arizona. The area we moved from is known as the Tri-Cities, named after three major towns in the area; Pasco, Richland, and Kennewick. Surrounding those towns are the bedroom communities of Burbank, Finley, Benton City, and West Richland. The entire population of those 7 towns combined, is about 300,000 people. It’s where I went to high school, it’s where I met my wife, it’s where our kids were born, it’s where most of my friends still live. I had lived my entire adult life there, and it was hard to leave 40 years of memories and friends behind.

So why did we leave, you might ask? A couple of reasons really. The primary reason was because I was unemployed at the time and I was offered a new job with one of my previous employers. Secondly, my wife has Fibromyalgia and the cold weather in WA State just kills her. It tightens up her muscles, sends her body’s pain receptors into overdrive, and causes her migraines. My mom and dad had both passed away at this point and my little sister had moved to Thailand with her husband, to become scuba instructor certified. My daughter was married at the time, living in Georgia with her son (our only grandson) and her now ex-husband, who is in the Army. Our son was just graduating high school and was moving with us, so there was really nothing on a family level that was keeping us there. With a job offer in hand, we decided it was time for an adventure of our own.

In an area the size of the Tri-Cities, it was pretty easy to know where the good places to eat were and which ones you should avoid. If there was a good place to eat that popped up, you’d soon know about it. If you didn’t, guaranteed one of your friends or relatives would, and vice versa for the bad places. I remember in the 90’s, driving 45 minutes to Yakima to go to this new restaurant called Olive Garden Italian Kitchen. I mean…who does that? It’s the Olive Garden. But back then, in that area, we were starved for new restaurants and good food.

When we moved to the Phoenix metropolitan area, we knew exactly 4 people out of 4.5 million. From the farthest edges of Peoria in the NW corner of the valley, to the southernmost reaches of Queen Creek in the SE corner of the valley, it is almost one continuous sea of humanity. Needless to say, those 4 people had not eaten at a majority of the restaurants in the Phoenix area. Not only were there several orders of magnitude MORE restaurants to choose from, but it seemed as if all of them were in strip malls.  Now…don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with having an eatery in a strip mall.  However, back home, any restaurant worth eating at was in a standalone building.  If your restaurant was in a strip mall, it probably wasn’t very good food, something on the equivalent of gas station sushi. As a side note, imagine my surprise, when I found out how good the pizza and breakfast burritos are at QuickTrip (QT), which is an actual gas station here in the Phoenix area! In the Valley, some of the best places to eat are housed in strip malls. “Why is that?”, you may ask. Well, I’ll tell you why. It’s the equivalent of renting an apartment, instead of owning a house. Developers have packed everything so close together and make so much more money out of renting space in a strip mall, that finding available space for a restaurant in an established area is either impossible or out of most restaurant owner’s price range when they start. So instead of having their own standalone building, they lease a space and establish their niche/clientele in order to see if they can make a go of it, before committing to expanding their horizons.

Because of that mindset, I had to adjust my opinions and criteria about what defined “good food.” I also had to rethink how I was going to go about finding what I thought were good places to eat. So with that in mind, I decided it would be a good idea to build a comprehensive review of every restaurant I ate at in our area. I saw this as a valuable resource to anyone moving into the area and being faced with the same problem I was; I’m new to the area, I don’t have a clue where the good places to eat are, and I don’t want to throw my money away trying to find the good places. With the way the economy is today, money is tight and spending it on bad food, is not an option. In addition to that, you have websites like Yelp©, where businesses can pay to have bad reviews removed. But, life comes at you fast, and we settled into a routine of work, play, and making new friends, while I let that idea for a restaurant review site die on the vine.

Fast forward to 2020, and Covid hit.  Now, it’s my own personal belief, that this is what caused TikTok and Instagram to explode.  Suddenly, we’re not allowed to go out and socialize at our favorite restaurants anymore, hangout with friends, and eat good food.  Now, we’ve got to stay home and make it ourselves.  We’ve got to invite friends over and have private dinner parties.  But the problem was that there were a lot of people that had forgotten how to cook because they eat out so much, or never learned how to cook.  So in December 2020, since I had so much more free time, the cooking bug bit me hard, and I went out and bought a smoker.  Oh my gosh! Since then, I’ve probably smoked 200-250 racks of ribs for friends and family, brisket, dino ribs, steaks, all kinds of chicken, pork loin, pork butts…everything. About the middle of 2021, I thought that maybe I should start making TikTok or Instagram videos of food prep and the final product.  But as I watched more and more of those clips and reels, I found myself saying, “I can’t create those kinds of videos.  I don’t have the budget, the time, the equipment, or the looks.  I’ll never be able to put something out on a regular basis the way these people do, because I’ve got a full-time job.” 

I was still focused on that line of thought and trying to decide what my niche in the food arena would be, when late December 2021 rolled around. A long-time friend came to town for the weekend, and since he’d never been to Arizona, we took him over to Old Town Scottsdale. We walked around looking at all the shops, until we got hot and thirsty. We sat down on the patio of this little Italian restaurant, and we ordered drinks.  As luck would have it, the drinks were absolutely amazing! We had bourbon maple Manhattans and Lemon Drops.  After tasting our drinks, we decided to order entrees….because, why not?! If the drinks were that good, the food had to be even better, right? Wow…phenomenal!  Some of the best Italian food that I had ever eaten in my life!

It was at THAT moment, that it hit me!  I don’t need to make videos or pictures of my own food.  I need to go back to my original idea and start a podcast, blog, website and go find people / restaurants that make EPIC food like this and interview them!  Find out what prompted them to take a gigantic leap of faith and try to make a living in the professional food arena, start a side hustle, or just becoming the home cook that friends and family turn to for great food.

My mission now?  To find the best food out there, and highlight the process, the finished product, and the maker.  This doesn’t mean it’s going to be a high-end restaurant.  It could be some hole in the wall that no one has ever heard of, and quite honestly, I have found that is where some of the best food you’ll ever eat is found.  I’m not doing any national chains.  If a local restaurant has 10 locations spread out across a certain area, that’s great, but no national chains.  My goal with this podcast, is to highlight local establishments and get them some free advertising, showcase their food and have a sponsor for every podcast we put up.  That way, it’s a win/win/win situation.  The owner gets some free advertising for their business which will hopefully drive people to their place of business and increase their bottom-line revenue; the sponsor gets visibility for their products as well; and we develop a monetary stream that finances our dream to reach out to others outside of our area and interview them too.

Our other goal with this website / podcast, is to start developing a list of reputable, vetted, awesome places to eat, for those people new to the area and also for those that have been here for years.  So our goal is to find places with Epic food and/or drinks and provide that information to the public for free, so they know where they can go to get good value for their money.