Ari Shapiro has had an interesting Tucson food journey that began as strictly liquid, morphed into solids and then back to liquids.
Shapiro moved to Tucson in 2000 from San Francisco and started Xoom Juice in 2001, which he later sold. In 2011, he opened Sparkroot, which recently sold, as well, followed by Falora in 2013, and Sidecar in 2014. He has mostly acted as owner and operator until taking over the pizza oven at Falora last year. Shapiro says he loves baking his wood-fired pizzas for the Tucson community and getting to know his guests.
Kerry Lane is Ari’s wife, an Iowa native with a degree in anthropology. She combined her love for people, travel, and health by becoming a plant-based chef through the Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts in Austin, Texas.
Kerry moved to Arizona via the Tree of Life in Patagonia and came to Tucson in 2012 to develop Falora’s greens program. In 2016, she’ll open her first restaurant, Beaut Burger.
What was the first dish you had that changed your perspective on food?
Kerry: I was a kid at a church potluck, and a man from Venezuela made rice and black beans. I couldn’t believe people ate such delicious food every day.
Ari: My mother Ida’s meatballs and “pasghetti.” As a young omnivore who never loved meat, it transcended my instinct.
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What are you eating these days?
Kerry: Root vegetables
Ari: Root vegetables, as prepared by Kerry.
What was the first dish you remember cooking?
Kerry: Bread, in my grandmother’s kitchen. We ate the entire loaf warm out of the oven with butter.
Ari: Grilled cheese in a frying pan with kraft singles and wonder bread.
What concept, ingredient or food trend does everyone seem to love, but you just can’t stomach?
Both: Buffets, though we did get hitched at the Buffet Bar.
What chef, with us or passed on, would you most like to cook or eat dinner with?
Kerry: George Ohsawa, my macrobiotic hero
Ari: A family dinner prepared by Julie Piatt, in her home.
What city, other than Tucson, is your favorite place to eat?
Kerry: Shanghai. You can have the best meal of your life from a sidewalk vendor.
Ari: Every town in Italy, be it a piazza restaurant or the cheese and bread from Italy’s ubiquitous markets.
Speaking in junk food terms, what is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Kerry: Dried sweet potatoes from the Asian grocer. They replaced my Dots addiction.
Ari: Kerry’s panna cotta at Falora.
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Top three Tucson restaurants?
Kerry: Cafe Desta, Govinda’s, and the Curry Leaf.
Ari: China Szechwan, Penca, and Amalour.
On a rare night out together, Feast.
With a figurative electric chair in your immediate future, what is your last meal?
Kerry: Rice & chana daal served in a banana leaf bowl. Great Indian food makes me feel high.
Ari: I’m going out in all-American style: burger, fries and shake. Just make it a killer plant patty.