Meet the chef behind the newest wine bar in Tempe—Chic Chef 77.
Chef Nik Fields is breaking down barriers one glass at a time with the opening of Arizona’s first black-owned wine bar, Chic Chef 77 Bistro & Wine Bar. The new wine hot spot in Tempe will carry the state’s largest selection of black-owned wine brands like She Wines, De’ Twah Premium Wines, Generational Wealth Wines and ‘Til the Last Sip.
“Only one percent of wine makers are African American,” Fields says. “We have to reduce the invisibility that overshadows many Black winemakers due to lack of support from the industry, low sales and no exposure.”
Fields is on a mission to introduce wine lovers to new, up-and-coming winemakers. Each month the wine bar’s Meet The Winemaker series will showcase talented yet little-known winemakers, paired with Fields foods to highlight the best of the wines during a five-course wine dinner.
“I’m excited to use my platform to help others build their own wine brands and to introduce consumers to these new wines,” Field says. “It makes me happy to help other female and black entrepreneurs succeed.”
FROM CREDIT TO CULINARY
Fields grew up in the restaurant business, watching and helping her chef father cook.
“Cooking was always a passion of mine,” she says. “But 20 years ago, being a chef wasn’t glamorous. My parents wanted more for us so even though I got a culinary arts degree I went on to get an MBA and worked in finance, but after my husband got his PhD and my daughter graduated college, it was the perfect time for me to do what I really loved.”
Fields first foray into a culinary business was launching Chic Chef Company in 2016. The business started with just two olive oils from her own olive oil farm in Modena, Italy, and has expanded into 50 oils, vinegars, spice blends and other gourmet goodies. The business supplies restaurants throughout the Phoenix area and sells direct to consumers worldwide. This spring, Fields will open a gourmet marketplace next to her wine bar.
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During the pandemic, Fields, ever the contrarian, opened a restaurant in midtown Phoenix, but quickly learned that even though she loved cooking, it had to be on her terms.
“It was very hectic. I didn’t like being in the kitchen from 6am to midnight every day,” she says. “With the wine bar I still get to do what I love, but do it how I want to do it.”
WINDING UP IN WINE
Working as a chef, Fields has always been a wine aficionado. However, when she first moved to Phoenix, she didn’t find the kind of wine bar she was looking for.
“I’m from New York and there the wine bars not only have live music, but poetry nights, paint and sip experiences and other events. When I started to look for that here, I didn’t find it,” she says.
So, she decided to create it herself with Chic Chef 77 Wine Bar. In addition to a robust calendar of events, oenophiles will find a wine list featuring 200 bottles and 60 wines by the glass and a full menu of gourmet bites. The bistro menu is heavy on appetizers, but you’ll also find a variety of salads and seafood entrees.
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While wine sometimes gets a bad rap for being pretentious, you’ll find none of that vibe at Chic Chef 77. The space itself is sumptuous, with seating vignettes in jewel-toned velvet that invite couples and friends to hang out and relax. And if you’re new to wine, you’re in the right place. One of Field’s other goals with the wine bar is to demystify wine and make it more accessible to all.
There are wine pairing suggestions on the menu and the wine bar plans to hold Wine 101 courses taught by Fields and more advanced classes led by a sommelier.
“Wine intrigues me, I never get tired of learning more about it,” Fields says. “I want to pass along that passion to others.”