Israel Medina is the executive chef of DeSoto Central Market, as well as chef and owner of Izzy’s Pantry, which recently opened at the market.
By Gabby Richman / Photo by Mark Morgan
When did you know you wanted to be a chef?
It was 2003, when I moved to Scottsdale and started working at North Italia (Fox Restaurant Concepts) in Kierland Commons.
To you, food is…
Life! We have to eat to live. I love cooking for my family and seeing their faces when they love what they just ate.
When you’re not cooking, where would we find you?
Spending time with my beautiful wife and our four children. We have three girls and one boy: Anabella, Taelynn, Cataleya, and Kaisyn.
Where did you get your start in the food industry?
I got a summer job when I was 15 years old at a small beach grill back home in Lake Tahoe.
Do you have a favorite thing to cook?
Tacos! In our home, everyone loves tacos.
What is your approach in the kitchen?
I cook on the line with everyone. We are all equal! Always cook with love.
Tell us about Izzy’s Pantry:
Izzy’s Pantry is international street style food. I enjoy all kinds of food from different countries so why not have a little something for everyone, from Italian to Mexican to Japanese? We are a scratch kitchen so everything is always fresh.
What made you decide to open your own spot at DeSoto?
When I took over the BOH [back-of-house] operations at DeSoto, the owner told me that I could do my own concept and name it what I wanted. I’ve always wanted to have my own restaurant. This is only the beginning!
Your wife Ashlynn also works at DeSoto as the operations manager. What is it like working with your spouse and how does she inspire your cuisine?
I love working with my wife. We help each other out and have each other’s back! She’s my biggest supporter and the smartest person I have ever met. If she doesn’t like something [I cook], she’ll be honest and let me know.
Izzy’s Pantry, located at DeSoto Central Market, 915 N. Central Ave., Phoenix; 602.680.7747; www.desotocentralmarket.com.