Michelina DiSibio: Chef and Owner of Michelina’s Ristorante Costa Campagnia

Michelina DiSibio, owner of Michelina's Ristorante Costa Campagnia, photographed at her restaurant in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Michelina DiSibio, owner of Michelina’s Ristorante Costa Campagnia, photographed at her restaurant in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Michelina DiSibio
facebook.com/MichelinasRestaurant

Michelina DiSibio runs one of the tastiest Italian restaurants in the Valley, her namesake Michelina’s Ristorante Costa Campagnia. The Italian-born chef, 63, has been cooking since she was a little girl, and now her gorgeous, intimate, fresh flower-filled restaurant is set to celebrate its 30th anniversary this upcoming November.

Learn more about her restaurant by watching KAET 8‘s Check, Please! Arizona this Thursday, February 26 at 7 p.m. Get to know the Phoenix resident, who is in the kitchen every night the restaurant is open, better here. You can watch a video of DiSibio naming her five favorite reasons for loving living here in the Valley, too.

What brought you to Arizona?

I arrived in the United States in1970 and lived in New Jersey for nine years. I was married and had two children. We came to Arizona in 1979 because we had visited and loved it and wanted to get away from the cold and snow. It’s been great.

I was born in Gesualdo, Italy and came to America when I was 18. My sister was married and living in New Jersey at the time. My dad convinced me to come here because he thought I’d have better opportunities here and didn’t want me to go to school in Italy. I worked in a factory in Newark and learned English within a year. Continue reading

Lauren Wise: Founder of Midnight Publishing

Lauren Wise, founder of Midnight Publishing, photographed at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Lauren Wise, founder of Midnight Publishing, The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Lauren Wise
twitter.com/MidnightWriting

Lauren Wise is a writing and editing machine, as a freelance writer for publications around the country, and as founder of her own Midnight Publishing, which provides editing, self-publishing and ghostwriting services for authors and businesses. The 30-year-old Tempe resident has helped edit more than 30 books, aiming to create industry experts with the power of the pen.

Wise is also a huge heavy metal fan and works with HeavyMetalTelevision.com as a host and record label contact. She shared why she’s passionate about writing and helping others hone their skills, as well as shared her most memorable moments as a journalist. You can also watch her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I moved here when I was 15 and went to Saguaro High School before attending ASU and getting my degree in journalism. My parents relocated, so I had to go with them. I was born in Hinsdale, Illinois, a little bit out of Chicago.

I spent my childhood all over South Florida and my early teenage years in Kansas. My dad designs golf courses, so that is why we moved so often — you go where the work is. Arizona is a perfect place for that, and the projects here he worked on include Grayhawk, Mirabel, Estancia and Whisper Rock. Continue reading

Kim Haasarud: Founder of Liquid Architecture, Co-Founder of Arizona Cocktail Week

Kim Haasarud, founder of Liquid Architecture and co-founder of Arizona Cocktail Week, photographed at the Hotel Valley Ho, by Nicki Escudero

Kim Haasarud, founder of Liquid Architecture and co-founder of Arizona Cocktail Week, photographed at the Hotel Valley Ho, by Nicki Escudero

Kim Haasarud
twitter.com/MommyMixologist

Kim Haasarud never planned on making a career out of cocktails, but the Fordham University psychology grad and former entertainment industry pro turned what once was a bartending side job into titles such as cocktail author, Arizona Cocktail Week co-founder, and mixology consultant, as founder of Liquid Architecture. The 42-year-old Mesa resident has worked with big-name brands such as Applebee’s and P.F. Chang’s to perfect their cocktail menus and keep drinkers happy.

Haasarud is working on a new book she hopes to be released next year — all she’ll say is, “A blender might be involved” — and she’ll be at Arizona Cocktail Week February 14 through 21 — get details here. Learn what drives Haasarud’s passion for crafting the perfect drink, and check out a video of her naming her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley, too.

What brought you to Arizona?

My husband’s family lives in Phoenix. I lived in New York for 10 years and in L.A. for eight. We got married and had two children, and we wanted to be close to grandparents and a major airport so we could be close to L.A., and we moved here in 2010.

I was born in Nacogdoches, Texas. That’s way, way East Texas, and I was mostly raised in Dallas. I also lived in Kansas City, Kansas, where I went to Blue Valley High School, before attending Fordham University in New York City, where I got my Bachelor of Science in psychology. Continue reading

Pavle Milic: Co-Owner of FnB, Founder of Los Milics Wine

Pavle Milic, co-owner of FnB, Bodega Market and Arizona Wine Merchants, photographed in front of his Los Milics wine label at Arizona Wine Merchants in Bodega Market, by Nicki Escudero

Pavle Milic, co-owner of FnB, Bodega Market and Arizona Wine Merchants, photographed in front of his Los Milics wine label at Arizona Wine Merchants in Bodega Market, by Nicki Escudero

Pavle Milic
twitter.com/FnBAZ

Pavle Milic has been a fervent force in the Valley’s dining scene, with more than 25 years of experience in Arizona’s restaurant industry. The Colombia-born, 42-year-old Chandler resident has worked at Phoenix’s Racho Pinot, Cowboy Ciao and Royal Palms, as well as restaurants in New York City and Napa Valley. He now co-owns FnB restaurant in Scottsdale, as well as next-door Bodega Market and Arizona Wine Merchants. He has his own wine label, Los Milics, and hosts brunches on Rabbit Island with Desert Splash Adventures.

You can hear Milic on the online radio station he founded, MyAzNowRadio.com, where he interviews notable professionals in the Valley. Read more to learn how Milic became a formidable player in Arizona dining, and keep reading to watch a video of Milic naming his top five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was 15 when I came to Arizona. My stepdad became partners with Franco Fazzouli, who owns Franco’s Italian Café in Scottsdale. We moved here in 1987 to open up Franco’s Trattoria in Scottsdale. I went to Saguaro High School and Scottsdale Community College, and got a degree from the Academy of Broadcasting in Phoenix in communications and broadcasting.

My dad defected communist Yugoslavia in 1962 and wound up in Colombia, where he met my mom, and I was born. We moved to Queens, New York when I was 11 because my mom wanted to live here. Continue reading

Lisa Pauling: Founder of Be You Jewelry and Jewelry Artist

Lisa Pauling, founder of Be You Jewelry and jewelry artist, photographed at Bunky Boutique, by Nicki Escudero

Lisa Pauling, founder of Be You Jewelry and jewelry artist, photographed at Bunky Boutique, by Nicki Escudero

Lisa Pauling
facebook.com/BeYourDreams

Jewelry artist Lisa Pauling puts love into every piece of hand-stamped jewelry she designs for her Be You Jewelry line. The 36-year-old Phoenix resident had more than 15 years of retail experience before deciding to start her own business this summer, and now she shows at artisan markets around the state, including Pineapple Triangle, and her wares are available at local shops Bunky Boutique, MADE Art Boutique, Practical Art, and Clothes Minded, in addition to her online store. She also creates exclusive designs for nonprofit organizations and hopes to open her own store someday.

Pauling talked about her jewelry-making process and why she’s so passionate about local businesses. You can also watch a video of her naming her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley, and meet her in person Friday, December 26 through Sunday, December 28 at the Scottsdale Artisan Market — find more info here.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m from a small town of 280 people called Storden in Minnesota. I didn’t go to college right out of high school. I was working full-time, and my brother was living here, and I was like, “You know what, it’s time.” I moved down here on a whim when I was 23 and started going to school and worked retail while I was doing that. I was a jewelry distributor for (jewelry line) Chloe + Isabel, and everyone would always ask me if the products were mine. I decided to start making my own jewelry, and I stayed here because of the weather. Continue reading

Dayna Mathews: Career Coach and Founder of Dayna Marie Coaching

Dayna Mathews, career and personal branding coach and founder of Dayna Marie Coaching, photographed in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Dayna Mathews, career and personal branding coach and founder of Dayna Marie Coaching, photographed in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Dayna Mathews
twitter.com/KickAssCareer

Dayna Mathews wants everyone to have a kickass career, which is why the career and personal branding coach founded her own consulting company, Dayna Marie Coaching. The 26-year-old Phoenix resident works with clients to help them land their dream jobs, and her services include resume writing, LinkedIn profile makeovers, interview preparation, and job lead assistance. She’s also a public speaker, conducting career training around the Valley.

Mathews shared her top tips for scoring a dream job, as well as shared why she loves calling the Valley her home in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I graduated college in May of 2010 with a bachelor of arts in communications from University of Minnesota Duluth, and I just knew I wanted to get out of my small town of Taconite in northern Minnesota and see what else the world had to offer. After college, at the time, I was with someone who wanted to move, too, and we moved to Phoenix in October of 2010. I thought I’d be here for three years but haven’t looked back since. Continue reading

Cathy Beach: Owner of Pepper Boutique in Scottsdale

Cathy Beach, owner of Pepper boutique in Scottsdale, photographed at her store with her dog, Pepper, by Nicki Escudero

Cathy Beach, owner of Pepper boutique in Scottsdale, photographed at her store with her dog, Pepper, by Nicki Escudero

Cathy Beach
facebook.com/ShopPepperOnline

Cathy Beach’s Pepper boutique in Scottsdale is relaxed and inviting and features bohemian clothes perfect for free spirits of the Valley. After opening only a little more than six months ago, the cozy shop (named after the 28-year-old Scottsdale resident’s very cute dog) is already turning a profit and is featuring a fall blowout sale, so everyone can get a taste of Pepper. Look out for some new men’s styles in the boutique, a holiday special brought on by customer demand.

Beach talked about what it’s like to be a successful young small business owner and what she thinks of the Phoenix fashion scene after living in L.A., and names her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m from Vancouver, British Columbia and moved here when I was 12. I went to high school here at Saguaro High School, got my undergrad in psychology at ASU and went out to L.A. for grad school, where I studied clinical psychology at Pepperdine. I worked in wholesale apparel during grad school and after in L.A. This past spring, my mom’s cancer reoccurred, so I moved back to Scottsdale to be closer to her. Continue reading

Nikki Metzger: Owner of BODI Gym

Nikki Metzger, owner of BODI boutique gym in Scottsdale, photographed at BODI, by Nicki Escudero

Nikki Metzger, owner of BODI boutique gym in Scottsdale, photographed at BODI, by Nicki Escudero

Nikki Metzger
twitter.com/ScottsdaleBODI

Nikki Metzger is one strong lady. Not only could she kick your butt, at the age of 28, she’s already a successful Scottsdale business owner after opening her boutique gym BODI less than a year ago. The Scottsdale resident and Nike Master Trainer whips her students into shape, teaching more than 20 classes a week in a boot camp style.

Owning her own gym has been a dream of Metzger’s since she was only a kid, and she prides herself on providing all-encompassing healthy lifestyle motivation for her clients. Read on to discover what fuels her love for fitness, and check out a video of her naming her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born and raised on the Wisconsin/Minnesota border in Amery, Wisconsin. The town was only 3,000 people and I didn’t even live in the town – my house was on 150 acres of land in the middle of nowhere.

I was in Chicago the past seven years. My husband and I randomly vacationed here like five or six years ago and just loved it. Ever since then, we’ve come twice a year. Both of us are very warm weather people and hate the cold, and we wanted to move somewhere that had character and wasn’t just a suburb with a lot of franchises. We chose to move here in December last year. Continue reading

Rodney Hu: Owner of Yucca Tap Room, Arizona Distilling Company

Rodney Hu, owner of Yucca Tap Room and Arizona Distilling Company, photographed at Yucca Tap Room, by Nicki Escudero

Rodney Hu, owner of Yucca Tap Room and Arizona Distilling Company, photographed at Yucca Tap Room, by Nicki Escudero

Rodney Hu
twitter.com/YuccaTapRoom

Rodney Hu is responsible for some of the Valley’s biggest gems: one of the longest-standing live music venues, Yucca Tap Room, and purveyor of fine local spirits, Arizona Distilling Company. The 39-year-old Tempe resident is proud to be a native Arizonan, which is why he put so much passion into his businesses that show off the state’s talent.

Hu works tirelessly on his ventures and is gearing up for Yucca’s 42nd anniversary, to be celebrated this fall. He’s successfully combined his businesses by serving up Arizona Distilling Company spirits at Yucca, including Copper City Bourbon, Arizona Distilling Co.’s Desert Dry Gin and Arizona Distilling Co. Desert Durum Wheat Whiskey.

Sip on one next time you’re at Yucca, which features live music every night. Keep reading to find out what drives Hu’s work ethic and why he loves being in Arizona after all this time.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m a native. I was born in Phoenix, went to high school at Marcos de Niza and received my degree in finance from ASU. I moved to New York City and worked at a couple different investment banks – I also did sales and trading before moving back to Arizona about 11 years ago. Continue reading

Simon Nicolia: Co-Owner of Forever Tango

Simon Nicolia, co-owner of Forever Tango in Phoenix, photographed in downtown Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Simon Nicolia, co-owner of Forever Tango in Phoenix, photographed in downtown Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Simon Nicolia
twitter.com/TangoForCouples

Argentina-born Simon Nicolia has been dancing traditional Argentine dances for two dozen years. In Arizona, he’s spreading his love for tango as co-owner, with his wife, Tiffanie Nicolia, of Forever Tango, weekly classes held at 5th Row Dance Studios in downtown Phoenix. The 31-year-old Phoenix resident, who has been teaching private tango classes for couples, and Tiffanie lead students through passionate moves, helping all ages and experience levels during private and group classes Friday and Saturday nights.

Get more information about the classes here, and keep reading to see why Nicolia wanted to teach tango in the Valley, as well as watch him name his favorite reasons for living here.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m from Argentina. My family and I moved to Utah when I was 16. I moved from Utah to Arizona in February for my job as a program coordinator in the non-profit sector. I’m very excited to be here and get to know the people and enjoy the good weather. Continue reading