100 Tastemakers in Phoenix

Jessa and Dan Koppenhofer of Gilbert Farmers Market on the Arizona-Made Products You Need To Try

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.

66. Jessa and Dan Koppenhofer of Gilbert Farmers Market

Head to downtown Gilbert on Saturday mornings and you'll find yourself in a local food lover's paradise. 
That's because every Saturday — winter, spring, summer, and fall — dozens of vendors gather under the city's water tower for the Gilbert Farmers Market, one of the largest and most successful farmers markets in metro Phoenix. 

Jessa and Dan Koppenhofer founded the Gilbert Farmers Market in 2010, when the event drew fewer than 30 vendors. These days, you'll find nearly 100 vendors at the weekly market during the winter months and some 60 vendors during the summer. The Koppenhofers are a family of three, including a non-stop 2-year-old named Braxton and a French bulldog named Teddy. They live in Gilbert, where they continue to work year round to provide the community with a weekly market to buy local from Arizona's farmers, ranchers, and food purveyors. 

Today, the Koppenhofers dish on the best place for sandwiches in downtown Gilbert and the three Arizona-made products you really need to try. 

Our go-to place for crepes in Phoenix is Crepe Bar. When Jeff opened Crepe Bar four years ago, we were so excited to go in, try it, and finally meet THE MAN! We have been regulars ever since, and for good reason. His food is incredible, and his staff makes you feel important from the moment you walk in. Come hungry, because they will treat you to some amazing goodies while you wait for your meal. If you like chai, grab an iced or hot chai. Top notch! 

The best-kept secret in Phoenix is Worth Takeaway in Downtown Mesa. If you're searching for a sandwich that you will crave morning, noon, and night, get in your car and drive to downtown Mesa. Fresh bread is the starting point to any good sandwich and they are using the one-and-only Jared with Proof Bread. They bring in his ciabatta, sourdough, fruit and nut bread, and even his English muffin. Their Cuban is a MUST with a side of their house-made sea salt potato chips. Let's not forget about their house-made banana pudding; even if you don't like bananas, pudding, or Nilla wafers, we promise you will like this. 

Five years ago we were opening the Gilbert Farmers Market and never thought we'd have the privilege to work with so many passionate small businesses and see them grow and succeed in their dreams. We look forward to see what the future holds for the local scene in Phoenix, especially Gilbert.

You'll never find 
coffee in our kitchen, but we can't cook without local pastured eggs. They may be more expensive than store bought, but everything from the hard, colorful shell to the golden yolk we can't live without. We make homemade eggs Benedict with friends almost every Sunday. Our 2-year-old eats scrambled eggs almost every morning and he knows the difference between store-bought and local pastured eggs. Buy local pasture raised, you won't regret it!

Three Arizona-made products everyone needs to try are: 

1. Homeboys Habanero. Simply put, we LOVE heat, not so much from the sun, but in our food. The catch is that we want FLAVOR with that heat, and Jacob [Cutino] with Homeboys has made this happen in a magical way. We have every flavor: Habanero, Jalapeño, Verde, Okra in our house at all times, with backups. Find it, try it, buy it. 

2. The Tamale Store. Jessa is an Arizona native, so she's had her fair share of tamales, and The Tamale Store has the BEST in the Valley. The team at The Tamale Store work nonstop to provide an incredible handmade, gluten-free, lard-free tamale stuffed with so much meat, veggies, beans you can't eat more than two! The best part is if you're vegetarian or vegan, you can choose from seven different flavors! 

3. Mamas Cold Brew. Wait, didn't we just tell you that you would never see coffee in our kitchen? We sure did, but Mamas Cold Brew is a different beast. We find coffee, in any form, extremely bitter, until we tried Mamas Cold Brew. If you love or hate coffee, be sure to give Mamas Cold Brew a chance; they have done some magical things, and it's worth a try! 

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 
96. Bo Mostow of Uptown Farmers Market
95. Julian Wright of Pedal Haus Brewery
94. Stephen Jones of The Larder + The Delta
93. Eric Glomski of Page Spring Cellars
92. Richard Bock of Giuseppe's on 28th
91. Walter Sterling of Ocotillo 
90. Daniel Sevilla of Angry Crab Shack
89. Doug Robson of Gallo Blanco and Otro Cafe
88. LaDawn Driscoll of Liberty Market
87. Jason Calhoon of The Shop Beer Co. and Side Kick Cold Brew
86. Tim and Kim Cobb of United Lunchadores Street Gourmet
85. Micah Olson of Bar Crudo and Okra Cookhouse and Cocktails 
84. Paola Embry of Christopher's + Crush and The Wrigley Mansion
83. Jared Porter of The Clever Koi
82. Diane Corieri of Evening Entertainment Group
81. Erich Schultz of Steadfast Farm Shares His Go-To Place For Beer That Tastes "Like Arizona"
80. Jeff and Leah Huss of Huss Brewing Company
79. Aaron Pool of Gadzooks Enchiladas and Soup
78. Diana Santospago of The Maine Lobster Lady food truck
77. Gio Osso of Virtu Honest Craft and Nico Heirloom Kitchen
76. Lauren Bailey of Upward Projects
75. Rodney Hu of Arizona Distilling Company and Yucca Tap Room 
74. Jacob Cutino of Homeboy's Hot Sauce
73. Country and Sergio Velador of Super Chunk Sweets and Treats
72. Dean Thomas of Cornish Pasty Co.
71. Jennifer Caraway of The Joy Bus
70. Scott Holmes of Little Miss BBQ
69. Jared Allen of Proof Artisan Breads
68. Steve McFate of McFate Brewing Company  
67. Mel Mecinas of Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria