Chef Janos Wilder – Chef/Owner, Janos Cooks & Chair, Tucson City of Gastronomy Board of Directors
Chef Janos Wilder has made countless contributions to southwest culinary culture. His James Beard Award in 2000 for Best Chef Southwest helped put Tucson’s culinary scene on the map. His penchant for using local ingredients is legendary.
When he opened his first restaurant “Janos” in 1983 he looked for local farmers who could provide him with seasonal, indigenous ingredients before hiring his kitchen staff. He is credited with creating “Southwest” cuisine.
Always ahead of the curve, he inspired other chefs to incorporate the flavors of the region in their menus while encouraging an ever-growing group of local growers and artisan to serve local restaurants, farmers markets and to promote their products nationally.
He was a leading force in Tucson’s designation as the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the U.S. and has traveled extensively over his career as Tucson’s culinary ambassador, representing the flavors and foods of southern Arizona.
In 2010, Wilder’s DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails was one of the first restaurants to open in downtown Tucson as part of urban revitalization, leading the resurgence of what is now a thriving culinary and entertainment hub of Tucson. He closed the restaurant in 2021.
From 2016-2021 he operated The Carriage House Event Space and Cooking School in a beautifully restored historic building located near DOWNTOWN Kitchen. The space was one of Tucson’s favorite downtown event venues and where he often held cooking classes and pop up dinners.
He currently serves as Chairman of the Tucson’s City of Gastronomy board of directors.