As a native Arizonan raised in Mesa, Native New Yorker was THE local wing stop after a high school football game or where we would gather our group of friends for a burger and fries. Native, as we all called it, has been in Arizona for decades and you can imagine my nostalgia when I was invited to the Final Cut: Native competition held in April earlier this year. It was such a pleasure meeting the Native team and seeing the test kitchen that created all the wings I used to devour as a teen.
Held at their company headquarter in Chandler, Final Cut: Native was an employee-lead culinary competition across all 30 locations in Arizona, Montana, South Dakota, and Texas. Six semi-finalists (four from Arizona and two from Montana) were invited to HQ to battle in the best burger/sandwich and best cocktail categories, using only ingredients found in Native’s kitchens and bars. My role as a judge, along with Taryn Jeffries of Phoenix Bites, Dave Tyda of Eater AZ, Judy Harper of Phoenix Magazine, and Kelly Fulcher and Cynthia Velasco of the Native marketing team, was delicious yet it was tough to pick just one favorite from each category. Ultimately, a decision was made and the winners of the competition are as follows:
Southwest Chicken Stack Sandwich from Robert Wisneski (Native: Missoula, MT)
- A spicy fusion with Ancho Chile Lime seasoning and Honey Chipotle sauce with pepperjack cheese and avocado on a ciabatta bun.
The Americano from Angela Carleno (Native: Gilbert Rd and Germann Rd in Chandler)
- A margarita with a colorful twist, this cocktail uses Roger Clyne Mexican Moonshine mixed with blue curaçao, cranberry juice, Grand Marnier, and Sprite.
These items will be available nationwide starting in August for a limited time. Until then, you can enjoy Native’s extensive menu of burgers, sandwiches, salads, and over 20 award-winning wing flavors at any of their several locations. To find a Native Grill & Wings near you, head over their website: http://www.nativegrillandwings.com