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Chef Riley Chandler Breaks Out

The 22-year-old Tucsonan is taking his chef collaboration series nationwide.

August 29, 2016

Upcoming Events

Every up-and-coming chef needs a break; Chef Riley Chandler is making his own.  Armed with a variety of skills, this 22-year-old straight out of Tucson, Arizona is determined to make his impact on the great Tucson food scene.  How does one do it? Hustle!

Chef Chandler seeks out the very best to work with and is passionate about continuing his culinary journey by their side.  Don’t let the young age fool you, Chandler has worked with some of the best during his culinary journey, including six years of experience with James Beard Award -winning Chef Janos Wilder.  He is persistent in trying to find the boldest of flavors, especially in his quest to find his niche among the Tucson gastronomic market.

Onward! Chef Chandler is taking his Pop Up collaboration series on the road later this year.

Onward! Chef Chandler is taking his Pop-Up collaboration series on the road later this year.

He may have found it with Pop-Up Tucson. For the past year, Chandler has been hosting pop-up events all over Tucson while collaborating with other chefs that share his passion.  “The concept of a pop-up event is a nationwide trend of a way to dine that is outside the box.  It’s a rebirth of traditional fine dining with a modern twist,” says Chandler. This way of experiencing food is a different angle for a non-traditional event and often keeps people engaged with the chef. The first pop-up event was in concert with chef TJ Culp at a pop-up event in Phoenix, and Chandler hasn’t looked back since.

Pop-Up Tucson’s next event is a collaboration between Chandler and Chef Jose Zavala, a seven-year army veteran who was one of the lead chefs at Ermanos and specializes in classic Mexican food.  “I want to focus on ingredients, then I want music mixed with art that creates a vibe that people really enjoy,” says Chandler. The event will be held on Thursday, September 1, at a location that will not be disclosed until 24 hours before the event. Chef Chandler likes to keep the location unknown until 24 hours before the event to give himself the flexibility to provide the best meal in an ideal spot. Learn more about that event and how to reserve your spot here.

Adding to the mystery, the menu for the Pop-Up Tucson events is also unknown until two days prior. Chandler says this allows him to use the freshest flavors available during that particular season, although he will adjust dishes as necessary due to allergies or preferences.  In addition, Chef Chandler has a signature dish he loves to showcase whenever he can. “A Signature poached egg bruschetta, with fresh baked bread and house-made mozzarella, heirloom tomato, cured pancetta, cage-free eggs and garden basil,” says Chandler.  It’s a dish he tries to feature at every event.

Pop-Up Tucson and events like it come from an underground movement of chefs who want to showcase their talent and food without being constrained by the shackles of location and time. They aren’t “suit and tie” stiff events, attendees are meant to enjoy the beauty of food and company in a casual environment. While Chandler is currently focused on Tucson-based events, this will be his last event in Tucson for the remainder of the year.  He will be hosting events all over the country later this year in places like San Diego, Denver, and Miami as well as doing an event on September 9 in Scottsdale, AZ.  Keep up with Chef Chandler by visiting

Learn more about Pop-Up Tucson’s upcoming September 1 event >>

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