Chow Bella

68: Cindy Gentry

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 eats her veggies.

Tastemaker 68: Cindy Gentry

Cindy Gentry has more than 25 years' experience in hunger prevention and healthy food systems development. She has worked throughout Arizona, regionally and nationally to nurture local food production, distribution and access, and to support farmers markets.

I arrived in Phoenix with... an old school bus, my then-husband, and our dog, getting ready to start a family. It was 35 years ago, April, already too hot, but we had an apricot tree and a fig tree in the yard of our rental house -- the fruit of which I soon learned could be traded with the neighbors for fresh food from their garden.

I was sitting down to dinner for six my five dream dining companions would be... Eric Glomski, Bono, Wendell Berry, Anna Lappé, and Mario Etsitty.

One place everyone who comes to Phoenix must eat is... Gallo Blanco.

One menu item this city could do without is... scary salads that use unripe shipped-in tomatoes, lifeless greens, and flavorless veggies. Really, it's not that hard to get and use fresh, local and in-season produce!

My last meal in Phoenix would be... at Maya's Farm, wherever she is growing, with a couple hundred close friends and family, plenty of kids and pets; sun ovens blazing, pot luck, wild flowers on the tables, local wine and beer flowing, bring your own musical instruments, start early, stay late or go home the next morning. Maybe set in mid-May so we could have a medley of peaches, corn, early melons, tomatoes, eggplant, greens, green garlic... I'd roast some veggies in the sun oven, bake some gluten-free mesquite bread and cobbler, make a last connection with all those I cherish, in a land I have come to love.

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

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