Chow Bella

44: Mark Fratu

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. Editor's Note: Mark Fratu was trained as an aerospace quality control inspector not as an aerospace engineer as we previously said.

Today: A man you'd never accuse of being a buzzkill.

Tastemaker 44: Mark Fratu

See also: Most Honey in the U.S. Isn't Honey at All, Food Safety News Reports

Mark Fratu grew up in communist Transylvania and was trained as an aerospace quality control inspector. He ended up in Chicago with next to nothing -- but he worked hard, saved his money, and eventually moved to Arizona, where he spun his meager fortunes into real estate investments. But the work left him empty and bored. So he went back to his roots. His dad was a beekeeper in Transylvania, and while the family business didn't interest him as a child, he found himself drawn to it later in life. He started with a single hive in 2004, but it wasn't until 2008, after he'd learned a great deal more about bees, that he transitioned to working with them full time. Now he keeps about 30 hives spread throughout Phoenix and sells his honey at farmers markets.

I arrived in Phoenix with... my wife.

If I was sitting down to dinner for six, my five dream dining companions would be... my wife, Jesus, David, Paul, Moses, and Solomon.

One place everyone who comes to Phoenix must eat is.... honey.

One menu item this city could do without is... hotdogs.

My last meal in Phoenix would be... bread and butter with honey.

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 82: Lylah Ledner 81: Andrea White 80: Lori Hashimoto 79. Mrs. White 78: Eugenia Theodosopolous 77: Lou & Lovey Borenstein 76: Anthony Patafio 75: Carl Seacat 74: Sacha Levine 73: Sharon Salomon 72: Johnny Chu 71: Susie Timm 70: Jason Silberschlag 69: Gina Miller 68: Cindy Gentry 67: Amy Binkley 66: Dave Anderson 65: Mark Tarbell 64: Marianne Belardi 63: Audrey Lasalle 62: Brandon Gauthier 61: Brad and Kat Moore 60: Denise Clayton 59: Nobuo Fukuda 58: Richie Moe 57: Robin Trick 56: Alberto Della Casa and Letizia de Lucia 55: Farah Khalid 54: Dave Andrea 53: Vincent Guerithault 52: Danielle Leoni 51: Stan Zawatski 50: Maya Dailey 49: Duc Liao 48: Lisa Reinhardt 47: Isam Saed 46: Greg Peterson 45: Marco Bianco

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