From now until we publish the 2016 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times is naming 100 Tastemakers — members of our local culinary community who help shape the way we eat, drink, and think about food in Phoenix. Some you'll know, and for others, it'll be a first introduction, but each person on our list deserves a nod for helping make our city so delicious. Oh, and while you're here, be sure to check out our list of 100 Creatives.
Today, a woman who knows how to manage a market right.
96. Bo Mostow of Uptown Farmers Market
Bo Mostow doesn't just run one of the Valley's most impressive farmers markets — she's been steeped in old-school, slow-food ways since birth. Raised in Salt Lake City, Mostow grew up eating eggs and raw dairy from her grandparents' farm, as well as beaver and sheep (her dad was a small-time rancher of both). Her mother and grandmother kept a garden, churned butter, canned everything in sight, and made their own bread and scones. As a kid, she was in charge of skimming the cream from the top of the milk pail with a spoon.
At 21, she moved to Phoenix as a nanny and (after changing her major a dozen or so times) settled on studying nutrition at Arizona State University. It was there that she met Cindy Gentry, founder of the Downtown Phoenix Public Market and a pioneer in the local food movement. Mostow shadowed her at the farmers market — "I learned so much from her, and wanted to create something similar for my 'hood, as well as dive back into my farm roots," she says — and was inspired to eventually open her own market in her own neighborhood. In 2014, she founded the Uptown Farmers Market, which is held twice a week at North Phoenix Baptist Church. Mostow is married and has four kids.
My go-to place for takeout, delivered to your door in Phoenix is Thai Rama on Camelback. There has never been an easier online ordering system, and they are pros at adjusting spice for kids. The food arrives on time (every time), piping hot (every time), no spillage (every time), and the correct order (Every. Single. Time.).
My go-to person for kid birthday treats at school is Cake Pops by Sal. These days, we aren't allowed to send home-baked goods to school, and everyone has an allergy. With Sal, it becomes so easy. I just give her the count and the list of student allergens. Our texts look like this: 40 kids, two teachers — two kids with diabetes, one kid with celiac, one egg allergy, one peanut allergy. She delivers to the school pops of your choice, and there are great choices (brownie pops, red velvet, margarita, etc.) — the pops are perfectly labeled "sugar -free," "gluten-free," etc. ... and the birthday kid gets a cake pop that has a candle. My kids feel so special, and the teachers love it because it is an easy treat on a stick with no crumbs. And she always throws a few extra pops in there.
The best kept secret in Phoenix is that Noble Eatery caters. Folks think it's just bread at farmers' markets, or just lunch at the Eatery, but Jason and Claudio cater all my big parties. On party morning, Claudio rolls up with these huge bowls of grain salad, packed with whatever is in season and topped with just olive oil, salt/pepper — very minimal, very earthy. He makes big roasted veg platters, which consist of seasonal McClendon produce charred over the grill. Antipasto platters and a variety of sandwiches and smorgas, too. Jason, of course, sends piles of fresh-baked bread. And Claudio will not let me use just any olive oil to dip the bread in — I have to use the one he leaves on my kitchen counter. Add in Mama D's hot-dog cart (she uses Schreiners), good beer (served in a wheelbarrow over ice, learned that from the Backyard Jamborees), and a few homemade desserts — done.
The best place to dine with kids in Phoenix is — who can narrow this down — I have to name my top three! They are easily: Ocotillo, Otro, Southern Rail. Ocotillo because of their juicy cheeseburger (not just for kids, btw), the outdoor space for the kids to sprawl, and because they can send little notes to their friend Chef Sacha in the kitchen that say things like: "Sha-Sha, do you have rice pudding today?" Otro because of the ease of seating; the magical kid trio of guacamole, pancakes, and horchata served any time of day; and the relaxed atmosphere where no one starts looking at us like they want us to leave. Southern Rail for their kid menu, which doubles as an activity book; their great patio; and the fact that they have somehow trained the entire staff to love children.
I'm totally obsessed with root cellars right now. Folks tell me I don't need one because it doesn't snow here, but I'm going to work it out. There is this certain damp, root-cellar smell — I want my kids to know that smell. I want to send them to the root cellar to get random things, like I had to do for my mother. I want them to open the potato sack and be scared of the growths on the potato because they look like fingers or rat tails. I want them to stomp on the old onion skins that have fallen out of the basket. I want them to dodge the spider webs between the canned jars. I want them to be a tad scared of the salamanders. I think I'm going to make my root cellar with uneven steps, like I had. Lots of learned life lessons came from my time in the root cellar.
But I'm totally over — is it bad that I'm kind of over bone broth already? The health benefits of broth are undeniable, and nothing beats a good bone stock. But it should be more of an unspoken staple in everyone's meal plan, instead of a celebrated non-staple...
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I can't cook without my flameware pots from Wattanee Audrain's studio, Pots From Clay, because they go from stovetop, to oven, to table, to dishwasher. Great for family dining and entertaining, and so pretty! I love them.
The 2016 Tastemakers so far:
100. Aaron Chamberlin of St. Francis and Phoenix Public Market Cafe
99. Ross Simon of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
98. Debby Wolvos of DW Photography
97. Anibal and Salem Beyene of Café Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant