Meet our founder
Alexis was born to be creative and bred for entrepreneurship. With a father as a successful business owner and a mother as an artist, she grew up with a business mindset and creative flair. Alexis dedicated much of her early years to dancing, singing and acting in plays, choir and other recitals. She also has a background working in sales and finance, which has helped her tremendously with structuring The Phoenix Palate and building strong client relationships.
What drew her to food was through her frequent travels. She always was most excited about what food she would encounter in each place she visited. Growing up Mexican, every gathering, no matter how big or small had food at the center of it.
Upon moving from her hometown of El Paso, Texas, to Phoenix, Arizona, she explored ways to meet friends. She decided to start a cooking club. The idea for the club was to share recipes she enjoyed and learn from the other members' recipes that were special to them.
She went back to her roots of remembering that food is a universal language that connects all of us. The cooking club, called Wannabe Chefs, quickly grew a significant following which evolved into starting The Phoenix Palate, alongside her best friend and head pastry chef Amanda Rubio. Her main focus is helping people make unforgettable memories with their loved ones having amazing food at the center.
Meet our team
I grew up in a world of taste, smell, and destination. My passion for travel, food, and experiences brought me to this destination in life, working for the Phoenix Palate as the Event Coordinator. I bring my years of sales, travel, and culinary experiences to the table (literally!!).
I’m a graduate with honors from ACI, a Culinary School in Scottsdale, Arizona. After school, I started with The Four Seasons Scottsdale Troon North Resort in Banquets and Catering. This brought me experience in a high volume of large events in a fast, high-end environment.
I wanted to bring my experiences as a chef to the planning side of the culinary world. So that’s what brought me to The Phoenix Palate. I love spending time educating our clients on what works best for their next Culinary Experience. It could be a private chef dinner, wedding, corporate event, cooking class, or food tours. The Culinary World is endless and exciting. I look forward to raising the standards of your next Culinary Experience.
Head Chef Brian Turner
From an early age, Brian was an entertainer and always enjoyed being in front of an audience. His first love was music, singing, and receiving all the attention from being on stage. After his music career didn’t take off by the age of 19, he switched his passions to another art that allowed him to express himself (cooking). Inspired by his Great Grandmother and the amazing meals she would make to bring his large family together for holidays, he set out to expand his palate and develop his flavors and culinary personality.
Chef Brian moved to Los Angeles in 2010 to branch out and learn cuisine from LA’s diverse food scene. In 2014 he received the bulk of his knowledge and began to really refine his flavors working at SpaceX, but he attributes his greatest teachings/techniques to his apprenticeships under Celebrity Chefs Shirley Chung and Jason Fullilove in 2016. Both chefs demanded greatness from him EVERY day and instilled in him the “Mamba Mentality“ and for that, he is grateful.
Head Chef Shawnee Cortright
Born and raised in Southern California, Chef Shawnee pursued her culinary career after high school with Le Cordon Bleu. Chef Shawnee worked with Walt Disney World for her internship, then soon graduated with her associate's degree in Culinary Arts. She had moved back to LA to pursue her career more. She worked with the Magic Castle in Hollywood, starting out as just a pantry chef.
As she moved up in the kitchen, her chef took her under his wing and began to mentor her. Chef Shawnee started working on the Chef's Table, which was an idea she helped introduce to the Castle. She soon became Jr. Sous Chef and helped lead and guide the kitchen to success every night. But it was the Chef's Tables and gourmet wine events where she was able to really discover her creative side. She was able to define who she was as a chef through these events. Shawnee has a mad love and passion for what she does, and everyday she continues to put that same love and passion discovered years ago into the dishes she creates today.
Chef Melissa DeYoung
I was born into the food world. I started learning cooking, baking and preserving as soon as I could walk from my great grandparents and grandparents from Germany, Holland, and Greece. Because of that, I have a high-quality, fresh, farm-to-table approach to my menus. As soon as I had my high school diploma in hand, I took off for the Culinary Institute of America Greystone in St Helena, CA, picking up my Baking Certificate before transferring to the main campus in Hyde Park, NY, getting my associate’s degree in Baking and Pastry. Shortly after graduating, I was sent to Lake Tahoe to be a pastry chef for a golf resort, furthering my skills in fine dining and plating.
Deciding that I wanted to expand on my experience, I relocated to Portland, Oregon, where I quickly became involved in the farmers market scene, working with an authentic German bakery, becoming fluent in all allergen-friendly diets and needs, before starting to train in the culinary side of things. Over the span of 6 years, I quickly became adept at all cuisines, always sourcing from a variety of fresh local purveyors.
By the time I was ready to leave Portland to relocate to Phoenix, I was a full-on hybrid in the industry, being completely fluent in both baking and cooking. Since being here in Phoenix, I have strived to continue to improve upon building my skills and continuing to put a precedence on bringing fresh, organic, high-quality foods to all the menus that I create. I try to convey my passion and attention to detail to every aspect of my work because, for me, this is not merely a job or a hobby; creating food for others to enjoy is a lifestyle.
Chef Brynda Felix
I got my first position in a kitchen, just like many young Latinas, in my home with my family cooking and learning invaluable skills that would be the foundation of an exciting career.
I graduated from Independence High School in 2012 and was accepted and enrolled at the Art Institute of Phoenix that same year. I was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ.
From fine dining and my first Executive Chef position at age 24, my menus have been chef-driven seasonal menus.
I have been very grateful for the passion and inspiration I was gifted with from my family; it's been an invaluable part of shaping me as a person and definitely as a chef.