From now 'til we publish the 2012 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times and Chow Bella present 100 Tastemakers -- Valley residents who make the cut in our culinary scene. Some you'll know; for others, it'll be a first introduction (but likely not the last). While you're here, check out our 100 Creatives on Jackalope Ranch.
Today: a woman who will certainly get your goat.
Tastemaker 82: Lylah Ledner
With an eye and heart for simplicity, beauty, and sustainability, Lylah Ledner says she "no longer buys designer shoes but, instead, designer seeds." About four years ago, Lylah and her husband, Michael, began using organic practices to grow fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers at their Valley home -- now known to the community as The Simple Farm. Life never stands still for this networker, entrepreneur, farmer, herdswoman, and grandmother of seven. But her real passion is to "Promote the Goat," and twice a day, she hand-milks her small herd of Nubian dairy goats. If she's not giving a tour to a group of Girl Scouts talking about seeds and goats and chickens, she's in the kitchen making mint jelly or apple butter for her weekly (Thursdays) French-inspired market at the farm.
I arrived in Phoenix with... The day we arrived in Phoenix was memorable. It was about 18 years ago in the month of August, and it was no less that 118 degrees. We moved to the valley from Portland, Oregon, and everything I called "home" was stuffed into a huge U-Haul.
If I was sitting down to dinner for six, my five dream dining companions would be... My first response to the question about my dream dinner for six was having that time with my husband, daughters, and their husbands. But then I started thinking about the word dream. I'd love to have dinner with my husband, Michael, as well as Golda Meir, Mother Teresa, Hillary Clinton, and Margaret Thatcher. We'd enjoy a quiet breakfast somewhere quaint, where conversation and coffee would be about food, life, women, life regrets, the answers to world issues, and how to really care for people.
One place everyone who comes to Phoenix must eat is... Breakfast is just about my favorite meal -- and I think every Phoenix visitor should linger over La Grande Orange's Famous French Pancakes.
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One menu item this city could do without is... anything made with canola oil and "fake" coffee creamer. There's nothing worse than coffee with those artificial creamers. Let's use real sweet cream.
My last meal in Phoenix would be... At Beckett's Table with Chef Justin Beckett. I've never eaten there (yet) but just know it'd be amazing.
The Tastemakers so far: 100: Tracy Dempsey 99: Craig DeMarco 98: Lara Mulchay 97: M.J. Coe 96: Betty Alatorre de Hong 95: Eric Schaefer 94: Hanna Gabrielsson 93: Shinji Kurita 92: Silvana Salcido Esparza 91: Mike Pitt 90: Christina Barrueta 89: Christopher Gross 88: Jan Wichayanuparp and Helen Yung 87: DJ Fernandes 86: Cullen Campbell 85: Chris Lee 84. Gwen Ashley Walters 83: Tony Morales Follow Chow Bella on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest.