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100 years of music, 12 Genres.
VU Bistro’s Tommy Holloway has been in Arizona 35 years, and considers himself a native. Originally from Iowa, he started out his career as a gospel singer, singing at different churches all through the country.
1970 was the first time he got to Phoenix, singing at the Phoenix Baptist Church at Bethany home and Central.
Tommy was headliner on cruise lines and at casinos.
On the subject of his music, he said “the best way to explain it is, it’s a hundred years of music in about twelve genres of music,” and that country music is one of his favorites. “I can do Patsy Cline.”
He performs on Fridays and Saturday nights and “We actually we have a few other people that come in and play here as well,” describing VU Bistro as “kind of an attracted area… an area that it’s not just transient, people actually come here and want to be here for quite a few different things other than just the food or just the entertainment,” specifically citing the view, and that “It’s a community, so we have a lot of the same customers.” Stressing that VU “attracts a lot of good, great people but it’s more about a community,” and “we’re family here.” Tommy departing, as Heidi Hake returned.
A Prickly Pear Margarita
Bringing a pink margarita, Heidi said, “That is one of our signature margaritas. It’s a prickly pear margarita, and we harvest that right from the desert. We make a lot of different dishes from that,” pointing out that VU Bistro’s Chef, Kenny, would be showing some dishes that they use prickly pear for. She’s anxious to meet Gregory Asplin of Desert Cider House, Arizona’s oldest operating cidery, because they actually ferment hard ciders here in Arizona and one of them is a prickly pear cider. “Oh, we’ll have to get that!” In response to the comment that “It IS a nice Margarita,” Heidi responded, “and it looks like the sunset.”
Indigenous Delicacies
As Heidi departed, the VU Bistro chef Kenny brought a marvelous dish, saying, “What we have is everything indigenous to Arizona, I have a sauteed smoked Nopales cactus with tequila lime, high-country raised Black Angus from Arizona, and this is a short rib. Also prickly pear gastrique.

He describes it as “Just a little bit of Arizona,” elaborating, “What we’re trying to do here is keep everything local.” VU Bistro has the property below, with a trellis where they’ll be putting in a garden following their “farm-to-table philosophy”.
Kenny also discussed his herbs, and long-term plans. “We wanted to do something for homeless vets and I’m going to try to get six other restaurants involved and seven bakeries involved so basically how this’ll work is everybody gets to do the soup once a week and it just cycles through.”
“Our intention for quite a few years,” has been “the whole farm-to-table thing; get back a lot to the community and just keep that whole Arizona vibe going.”
Kenny’s classically trained in French and European cuisine, and has been in Arizona for about 24 years. Asked what cactus would be in French, he said, “I wouldn’t know that. I’m an Irishman.”
With Arizona, there’s definitely there’s a lot of things out here people don’t realize that are edible. Probably everything out here is edible. It’s just getting out there and figuring stuff out for yourself. “We do we do a lot of stuff out there; wild harvesting stuff; we do a lot of mushroom picking up north and Morel season is right around the corner.”
He says Heidi’s probably, by far, the best portuccini mushroom finder out there. He just got her into that last year, and she’s “just about having a hoot with it,” because she can spot them and he don’t even know they’re there.
“Unfortunately, we can’t bring anything into the restaurant on that end, so we eat well.”
Kenny changes the menu weekly, describing himself as “a madman,” adding on “We do have a
set menu that is our house menu.” But every week, he has one page that that he goes through, basically, continental international cuisine. He’s “all over the board,: and the reason is to keep the freshness going. “Whatever fish is in season, we’re on that; whatever produce is coming through, we’re doing that,” following the cycle of how everything is coming in, making sure “the freshness is delivered to the customers.”
We parted, with Kenny saying, “A pleasure meeting you. Love your show. Thank you so much.”
My “parting shot”:
You have GOT to come to VU Bistro. Pray you can try that short rib; Oh my god that’s good.
And the Nopales cactus, as Kenny pointed out, Nopales has a citrusy vinegar kind of flavor by itself, but he’s absolutely right when say it “really jives well with the pickled jalapeno coriander cilantro onions,” that he tops it with.
VU Bistro.
14815 E Shea Blvd, Ste 100, Fountain Hills, Arizona 85268.
480 375 8670