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 has a "wei" with chocolate. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
Tastemaker 48: Lisa Reinhardt
Wei of Chocolate founder Lisa Reinhardt lived in Asia for 11 years, spending much of that time in the Himalayas studying meditation. Upon returning home, she knew she wanted to share the insights of life in the East, but wasn't sure how to do it until she had an "ah-ha" moment while eating chocolate. She says, "In meditation, people often focus on the breath. But what if we focused on savoring chocolate instead? Chocolate is the perfect medium, because it makes it easy to rest in the present moment. The key is to eat only amazing chocolate - then there's no chance of distraction!"
And a chocolate company was born. Not just any chocolate company -- we have spotted Reinhardt's confections everywhere from local farmers markets to the main floor of ABC Carpet in New York City. Sweet.
I arrived in Phoenix with... three friends, a dog and a VW camper van - all of us (except the VW) just back to the US from living in Kathmandu, Nepal.
If I was sitting down to dinner for six, my five dream dining companions would be... Nobel Peace Prize Laureates HH the Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi, writer & activist Gloria Steinem, comedian John Cleese and my old friend Bill Woodward, who would know exactly how to keep the conversation rolling as I grinned from ear to ear.
One place everyone who comes to Phoenix must eat is... Nourish - especially if Chef Dan Santos has made a batch of dairy-free ice cream with our chai spice chocolate. As one of his customers said, "It's roll around naked good!"
One menu item this city could do without is... anything that includes genetically modified and non-food ingredients. Why do we accept that's it's okay to put industrial chemicals, petroleum products and untested Franken-food ingredients into our food? Our bodies do wonderfully well on whole, pure foods found in nature - there is no improvement on that. Health and wellness begin with real food, prepared with care and shared with those we love.
My last meal in Phoenix would be... made from goodies from the farmers' market, including a salad made with some of Carl Seacat's tomatoes, Roger Kamb's Especial tuna, and local goat cheese. I love Red Bird's whole chicken baked with Himalayan salt, fresh pepper, olive oil and Terra Verde's Farms Spicy O's. To finish it off, nothing can beat a piece of flourless chocolate cake washed down with one of Mario Etsitty's frescas.
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