Ahwatukee Foothills resident Janine Hill is the creator of Craving Phoenix, an independent blog that features local restaurant reviews, food and dining tips, a nice array of recipes and “foodie events.” The website is self-described as “a girl’s guide to the good food and more.”

Hill is committed to helping promote local establishments that she finds extraordinary and best in class. She is also passionate about inspiring people to cook more, while encouraging them to use local ingredients. 

Craving Phoenix has only existed for a few months, yet Hill believes that the response has been good.

“People are very interested in trying new things and supporting our local business community,” said Hill, who is also committed to bringing Valley people with a passion for wining and dining together. 

Along with Monette Coloma, Hill organizes two local food enthusiast groups called “Craving Phoenix — East Valley Cooks and Cocktails” and “Craving Phoenix — Greater Phoenix Valley.” With more than 350 members combined, these groups meet for “foodie events” at local restaurants, happy hours or members’ homes to network, share culinary information, and socialize. Members also submit tried and true recipes that Hill shares on her blog. 

Hill believes that long-lasting friendships are built and lives are enriched, when people get together and share their passions. Food just happens to be one of Hill’s greatest passions in life. She has been cooking for 30 years and has dined at some of the country’s finest restaurants including Joel Robuchon at The Mansion, The French Laundry, Chez Panisse, Bouchon Bistro and Guy Savoy. 

According to Hill, members of the community cannot just show up to a “foodie event.” One must first become a food group member in order to receive information and sign up for the events. Becoming a group member requires either approval through referral of current members, or signing up on Hill’s blog page. Often these events take place in a private residence, so the location is only revealed to the people who are signed up for the event in advance.

One such event recently took place on June 19 at Hill’s home. Celebrity fitness chef Jen Arricale was invited to demonstrate how to make a healthy gourmet pizza. The event had a target of 15 guests to ensure enough room and seating, a goal that was met relatively quickly, according to Hill.

Hill believed Arricale was a good choice to teach the class because of her personal story.

“Jen has a lot of energy and her personal journey is very inspiring and something people can truly relate to,” said Hill. “She is an example of someone who made major changes in her life and went from living in an unhealthy state to a healthy state, and she helps others to do the same.”

A follow-up with Hill revealed that the event was a success and group members seemed to be inspired by Arricale’s energy and healthy eating tips. Twenty guests were served locally-made wine, and olive oils produced by the Queen Creek Olive Mill were used in the recipes. Hill added that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the hands-on cooking experience and delicious recipes, while meeting new friends.

Hill has lived with her family in the Valley for 10 years. Check out her website at http://www.cravingphoenix.com. New and exciting events are being added to the site’s calendar, like a cooking class at Zappone’s Italian Bistro in Gilbert and a wine and chocolate event at Julia Baker’s confectionery at Biltmore Fashion Park in Phoenix.

• Jeremy Bush is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.

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