Angelo Sosa of 'Top Chef' to open Tia Carmen restaurant in Phoenix – The Arizona Republic

A Top Chef All Star is opening his first Arizona restaurant in Phoenix this spring.
Popular San Diego chef Angelo Sosa has appeared on not one, but three seasons of the hit TV show “Top Chef” after taking second place in the Washington D.C. competition in 2010.
Sosa has spent the past year and a half getting to know Arizona’s food scene while traveling back and forth between Phoenix and his home state of California. And soon, the Dominican-Italian chef will start overseeing the kitchen at the new Tia Carmen restaurant inside the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort + Spa.
In the former home of Stone Grill, the new Tia Carmen restaurant is named after Sosa’s aunt Carmen, who taught him “the power of food.” The menu will specialize in contemporary Southwestern cuisine.
“It’s really a love story. It’s a love letter to the region, the Southwest, Arizona,” he said. “It is gorgeous. It is cactus, arid, but it’s mindblowing. You have beautiful vegetables in July, you can get voluptuous tomatoes.” 
To develop the menu, he met with local farmers like Ramona Button of Ramona Farms, who introduced him to the indigenous tepary beans that he plans to use in a tepary bean mole negro that will appear alongside many dishes cooked on a mesquite grill.
His mole also takes inspiration from legendary Oaxacan chef Celia Florian of Las Quince Letras, who shared a mole recipe with him when he visited Oaxaca. Made with a host of ingredients that include Chimayó chile, canela, bay leaf and pecans, his mole will be aged for 22 weeks before it’s served. 
The menu will draw from indigenous food culture and many ingredients will be sourced from local Arizona farmers and ranchers, likes the Dominican chicken guisado stew made with a local bird from Top Knot Farms in Benson. 
Other dishes on the menu — which includes a host of vegan and gluten free options — include a lamb ragu with mesquite corn noodles and heirloom carrots, a native grain fried rice with bacon, sausage and sunny side egg and a tuna crudo with corn coconut broth and dill.
Born to a Dominican father and Italian mother, Sosa began his career working under iconic French chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichten and consulting for Alain Ducasse before opening his own highly-acclaimed Asian and Mexican restaurants in New York City.
Sosa gained prominence on Bravo’s “Top Chef” competition, in which he appeared on three different seasons. During one notable competition, he prepared ginger-lacquered short ribs with pea puree, pickled mushrooms and horseradish creme fraiche that would later be sent into space on a NASA Discovery mission.
He moved to the San Diego area to be closer to his son in 2016 and gained a strong following at his restaurant Death by Tequila, which was a favorite of San Diego magazine critic Troy Johnson, who described the execution as “notches above other restaurants.” 
After leaving Death by Tequila in 2020, he went on to consult at the Small Barn restaurant in Old Town Temecula.
For the last year and a half, he has been focused on developing the Tia Carmen concept and preparing for the opening.
This restaurant is a passion project meant to honor his aunt Carmen, who helped him realize he wanted to be a chef at the age of 9. 
“I remember taking our blue Oldsmobile and going into Queens (to visit Carmen),” he said. “My brothers and sisters would blast through the door to play outside. The aromas of cumin and cilantro would pull me into the kitchen. I would sit there on the stool. Her back would be toward me and my mouth would be in awe for hours, watching her cook. She would present this massive feast … Tia wouldn’t even have a bite or do anything until she knew there was laughter and joy in the room.” 
Sosa hopes her namesake restaurant will likewise inspire joy and a sense of celebration.
Tia Carmen will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu will feature local ingredients, the plateware will be sourced from local artisan Blue Door Ceramics and the wine program will feature varietals from Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe region. 
The restaurant is scheduled to open in spring 2022.
Details: Inside the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort + Spa, 5350 E. Marriott Drive, Phoenix. 480-293-5000,
Reach reporter Andi Berlin at Follow her on Facebook @andiberlin,  Instagram @andiberlin or Twitter @andiberlin.
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