Cotton & Copper
Tamara Stanger is the executive chef of Cotton & Copper, formerly Helio Basin Brewing. She has worked in kitchens for over 23 years, 17 in Arizona at various local diners and gastropubs across the valley. Her love of the desert have defined the way she crafts her plates, drawing focus on indigenous ingredients, ethically foraging seasonal vegetation, and showcasing game meats. She emphasizes heavily on the relationship between food and drink, which she exercises at Cotton & Copper.
Under the direction of Tamara, in the first year of business, Helio Basin earned several awards including Devour Culinary Classic's "Excellence in Taste" and "Excellence in Distinction," as well as "Best Food" at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival," Phoenix Magazine's "Best Brewery Food," and "Top 50 Best New Breweries in the US" by Travel and Leisure Magazine.
One of the most rewarding aspects is the opportunity to work with local farms. Ramona Farms' ingredients have highlighted the fare from the beginning, first with the intensely eclectic O'odham white tepary bean puree, the Pima corn tortillas, the White Sonora flour frybread; then, with the sautéed tepary blend, the durum wheat berries, and the bourbon Pinole ice cream. Seeking out phenomenal local produce has spurred an evolution of the menu. Crooked Sky was brought in as a CSA drop, and their i'itois onions and baby nopales quickly became a staple. Weekend stops at the farmers market gave way to refined dishes with Brother Nature's herbs and vegetables, Abbie Lee tomatoes, Symbiotic oyster mushrooms, McClendon citrus, and so many countless other amazing Arizona farm ingredients.
Unbeknownst to many, Tamara is a huge horror fan. She has five house crafted hot sauces, each with a horror theme. At one time she was obsessed with making horror movies. She purchased a movie camera, wrote scripts, and began learning how to make props. Things quickly escalated into making props out of food, literally every body part, consumable and delicious. She is writing cook book on movie props and plans to finish it one day, in "b movie" fashion.
Aside from food, Tamara is passionate about many other arts. She has trained in Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu for ten years. She is also an avid writer and painter. She plans to retire in Ensenada, cooking, making horror movies, drinking wine, and doing jiu jitsu on the beachfront.