Former Gov. Fife Symington is feeling a new kind of heat with some help from Payson's Cucina Paradiso Italian Restaurant.
After the unsavory end to his political career, Symington took an interest in the culinary arts and enrolled in an 18-month course at the Arizona Culinary Institute in Scottsdale.
"I've always loved Northern Italian food," said Symington. "I wanted to be a competent chef." During his culinary apprenticeship, Symington worked with acclaimed Italian chef Franco Fazzuoli from Phoenix and a partnership began. Together they will be serving diners pizza, pasta, salads and more at Franco's Italian Cafe at the Phoenix Esplanade at 24th Avenue and Camelback.
But before the scheduled February opening, Fazzuoli wanted Symington to have some hands-on experience with a real Italian oven. For that, Fazzuoli called on his good friends John Posteraro and Gerardo Moceri, owners of Cucina Paradiso in Payson.
"Cooking is like music," said Posteraro. "It's an art."
According to Fazzuoli, the key to composing the best texture and flavor in Italian cooking is the oven. Cucina Paradiso cooks with an authentic imported Italian brick oven and flour also brought in from Italy.
Symington said one of the reasons he chose the Italian restaurant partnership is because Fazzuoli is acknowledged to be one of the great masters of Italian cooking.
"Besides that, my wife told me it was time for me to do something constructive with my life," said Symington.