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.
45. Jason Raducha of Noble Bread and Noble Eatery
What started as a childhood curiosity has since grown into a full-fledged obsession for baker Jason Raducha. It all started one Christmas when he unwrapped his first Easy-Bake Oven. By fifth grade, he'd received his first WestBend bread machine and would spend weekends using it to make dough for pizzas and dense, admittedly unappealing loaves of bread.
Raducha spent years dabbling in other trades, but eventually found nothing could hold his attention quite like bread. So, in 2012, he got the idea to launch a microbakery specializing in artisan breads. And just like that, the seeds of Noble Bread were planted. Raducha launched a Kickstarter campaign to gauge public interest, and soon the "neighborhood was knocking at [his] door for breads," he says.
Raducha launched the bakery out of his North Phoenix home, but when his homeowners' association began to complain about the smell, he knew he needed to relocate the growing business to more official digs. That's when he moved Noble Bakery to its current location in the former Stanley's Sausage Building on McDowell Road; there, he bakes bread that's used at many of the Valley's top restaurants.
"It is funny how things come full circle; I used to go there and get sandwiches," Raducha says. "To this day, I still stand there, I look around, and I am in awe that this is what I get to do every day."
My go to place for dinner in Phoenix is Hillstone. Constancy that is unmatched. Service is on point.
The best-kept secret in Phoenix is 40th Street Cafe. It is on Greenway Road and 40th Street. It has been there for 20 years plus. I go for breakfast. Old school cafe, the ladies who work there have been there for years, they remember your name and order, it's great.
Ten years ago I was masquerading around as a computer nerd and never thought I'd be doing what I do today. I have always enjoyed food and the experience that it creates, from bringing my family and friends together, and engaging in conversation. I thought in life that you had to work until you retired and then you could do what you want. How wrong I was. Work fills a large part of your life; if you are not having fun and loving what you do, quit today, and go find it. Time is limited, I go by the motto my uncle told me: I don't have any time for a bad time. Don't settle ....
The biggest misconception about bread is that gluten is bad. Gluten is not bad; the process of making and the ingredients of commercial bread is horrible. Look for bread that is long fermented and naturally leavened. Naturally leavened supports healthy blood sugar levels; it is lower on the glycemic index because it breaks down the carbohydrates. It is easier to digest because the wild yeasts and bacteria pre-digest starches; in some cases, people with a gluten sensitivity can eat this type of bread. It also has a longer shelf life without the use of any added preservatives because it contains naturally occurring acetic acid (vinegar) which prevents mold and fungal growth.
My culinary guilty pleasure is pizza. All different kinds. Truth be told, calories. I want to try everything!
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
66. Jessa and Dan Koppenhofer of Gilbert Farmers Market
65. Todd and Kelly Bostock of Dos Cabezas WineWorks
64. Ryan Probst of Odelay Bagel Co.
63. Diana Brandt of AZFoodie
62. Benjamin Butler of Hayden Flour Mills
61. Jim and Maureen Elitzak of Zak's Chocolate
60. Michael Babcock of Welcome Diner and Welcome Chicken + Donuts
59. Nick Ambeliotis of Mediterra Bakehouse
58. Peter Kasperski of Cowboy Ciao and Kazimierz World Wine Bar
57. Kimber Stonehouse of LGO Hospitality
56. David Tyda of EATERAZ and Arizona Taco Festival
55. Pavle Milic of FnB
54. Pat Christofolo of Santa Barbara Catering Company and The Farm at South Mountain
53. Brandon Casey of The Ostrich
52. Jonathan Buford of Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
51. Sasha Raj of 24 Carrots
50. Rob Fullmer of Arizona Craft Brewers Guild
49. Bill and Lillian Buitenhuys of AZ Bitters Lab
48. Ramona Button of Ramona Farms
47. Justin Piazza of La Piazza Al Forno and La Piazza PHX
46. Andrew Gooi of Food Talkies