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.
59. Nick Ambeliotis of Mediterra Bakehouse
Phoenix diners have likely stopped by one of the Valley's upscale grocery stores — for example, AJ's or Whole Foods — to pick up a loaf of fresh bread for dinner. And if so, then it's also likely you've had a loaf of Nick Ambeliotis' Mediterra Bakehouse bread. Ambeliotis' breads are currently sold at some of metro Phoenix's most popular markets, including the Uptown and Old Town farmers markets, La Grande Orange Grocery, Luci's Healthy Marketplace, and the Queen Creek Olive Mill, as well as Valley Whole Foods and AJ's stores.
Ambeliotis' bread story begins when a trusted friend and religious advisor propelled him to take a leap of faith and pursue his dream of baking artisan bread. For 18 months, he traveled around the country and in Europe learning from bakers, researching ingredients, and studying techniques. In 2002, he invested in 10 pounds of starter dough from a French bakery and began baking out of his apartment.
He started out baking in the morning and delivering his goods in the afternoon under the name Mediterra Bakehouse. Today, the bakery sells slow-fermented bread to top Valley restaurants and hotels all over Arizona. Ambeliotis' latest project, Farm:Mill:Bake™, takes artisan bread-making to the next level by partnering with a farmer to grow heritage grains specifically for the bakery.
Today, he dishes on his go-to spot to unwind and the best bread he ever had.
My go-to place to unwind in Phoenix is Chelsea's Kitchen.
The best-kept secret in Phoenix is Luci's at the Orchard.
Ten years ago, I was baking artisan bread in Pittsburgh.
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Baking bread is like meditation because baking calms the soul.
The best bread I ever had was [at] the village bakery by my home on the north Aegean island of Chios, Greece.
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