Northern Scottsdale residents and passers-by at The Summit in the Scottsdale shopping center may have noticed that a new restaurant has draped over the home of the former Twist Bistro.
Ginny’s Kitchen, owned by the husband and wife team of Sandy Tracey and chef Larry Shore, is the couple’s newest concept and officially replaced Twist Bistro on October 1st.
“We felt at times that the food we made before wasn’t right for the neighborhood,” Larry said. “It was almost like Twist Bistro had the wrong time and the wrong menu in the wrong place and all of those factors came together so it never really became what we wanted.”
Larry and his wife Sandy Tracey Shore had planned to open Twist Bistro in early 2020, but construction delays pushed the opening back to March 2020.
But the pandemic forced Twist to push its opening date back again to Mother’s Day 2020 as temperatures turned muggy and people fled to cooler climes.
“Because of that, we never had the grand opening and we never really got started or had that curiosity factor that most restaurants have,” Larry said.
After enduring a spate of troubles that ranged from operating at half capacity and losing staff and management to Larry contracting COVID-19, valley fever and pneumonia, one after the other, the restaurant owners were at their wit’s end.
Then came what Larry called the “cherry on top”.
“We had so many things that have so much against us, then the icing on the cake was all of our friends own restaurants collecting PPP loans and waiver loans, but we didn’t qualify for anything because we were told that we have.” open late,” he said.
Around the time Larry was considering a new concept to replace the ailing Twist Bistro, his mother Ginny had turned 89 and decided it was time to move to Connecticut, where Larry’s sisters live .
“It was like a big sad goodbye because she’s 89 and I won’t see her very often,” Larry said. “Then we thought, ‘What are we going to do with the restaurant? Should we change concepts and make a different menu, should we stay as we are?’”
Then Sandy Tracey’s daughter floated the idea of a restaurant called Ginny’s Kitchen.
“I started obsessing over how I do everything. I started thinking about Ginny’s Kitchen, country fare and fine dining with a kind of modern delivery of quality ingredients, prepared with care and a little creativity like a mom and a chef together,” said Larry.
Then Larry thought about the dishes that in his childhood he liked to cook together with his beloved mother.
“She made fun of cooking,” Larry said. “She took bread dough, shaped it into a man’s face and got me and my sister to come over and beat the dough up like it was a bully on the street. That’s how we learned to knead the dough.”
Larry began to think of dishes his mother had prepared and dishes that brought comfort to the four-star chef during his time as a chef in kitchens around the world and at Boulders Resort.
He’s also consulted with industry friends to put together a comforting compendium of dishes and cocktails.
“We spoke to consultants, we spoke to some four-star chefs and friends of mine, and we went through all of these ideas, and what came out of all of these ideas was modern home cooking,” Larry said. “Let’s make quality food that people can relate to.”
He started making classic dishes like chicken pot pie, meatloaf, burgers, and shrimp po boy sandwiches — all with a twist, like adding wild boar to the meatloaf.
He also prides himself on using only the freshest ingredients, having never been allowed to eat processed foods.
“The thing about my mom is that when I was a kid, she refused to buy any box mixes,” he recalls. “We weren’t like other kids; We didn’t go home and grab a candy bar as a snack. She told us, “Make yourself egg salad if you’re hungry after school, or have peanut butter and jelly.” She was inspired by that at such a young age that I built a palette that doesn’t hold box blends.”
Larry also gives guests a taste of the food that was served at his dining table during his childhood.
“The homemade cookies were something she always made, the chicken pot pie was mom’s chicken pot pie, and my mom was always an amazing dessert maker,” Larry said. “She used to make all kinds of rhubarb, apples, pears and cherries, whatever was in season.”
Larry admits that cooking these dishes takes him back to his childhood every time he grabs a pan.
“One of my funny stories that I often tell clients is when I learned to cook as a kid, grew up with four older girls, and everyone was always fighting,” he said.
“I found it was quieter when I retired to the kitchen and when I was cooking something, everyone got along at dinner until someone had to figure out who was doing the dishes,” he added, laughing.
Larry thought fondly of that hour of comfort as everyone sat around the dining table smiling and enjoying a warm home cooked meal.
“Everyone got along for that hour,” he said. “We talked about love and fun and what we did today. That experience of having the extended family get together, enjoy dinner and indulge in some hearty homemade was something I will always remember.”
The food isn’t the only tribute Larry is paying his mother with the restaurant, as there’s a wall full of himself and his mother, as well as what he and Sandy Tracey call “momisms,” scattered throughout the restaurant.
The only major difference between the restaurant and Larry’s childhood homes in New York and New Jersey, however, is that artworks painted by Sandy Tracey line the walls, which, as they stare at passengers on a Route 66 ride, add to the restaurant’s American flair reinforced restaurant.
The restaurant also offers thirsty diners a taste of Arizona, as the bar offers beers from Huss Brewing and SanTan Brewing, as well as alcohol from across the state, including Carefree Bourbon — which Larry uses to froth his smoked, dry-rubbed chicken wings.
After introducing the new concept, Larry and his team look forward to welcoming hungry customers and preparing them a home-style meal.