The Phoenix stop of the Radio Cherry Bombe: Food For Thought tour happened at FnB last night (Tuesday, June 25). And for those not in the #bombesquad, Cherry Bombe is a biannual magazine, and now podcast, highlighting and celebrating women and food. Themes of the night included hashtag activism, which yes, is a thing, plus what children, our own and otherwise, are eating, and what women in our lives have inspired us.
The schedule started with three solo speakers, followed by a panel discussion. Solo speakers were Emma Zimmerman of Hayden Flour Mills, Tempe baker (or “caker") Ryann Hulme, and Sweet Republic's Helen Yung.
Zimmerman spoke of working in the Phoenix food scene for the last transformative seven years, and stressed the importance of talking with her kids honestly about food to avoid passing on bad habits. Home baker and family woman Hulme spoke of reaching further out into the Pride community here, and how putting her cakes on Instagram is more for stress relief than a following. Yung told childhood tales of her bento box lunches — to the envy of her schoolmates, who even had personal chefs — and how now, it’s more about who she shares food with than what she eats.
Then, it was time for the panel discussion.
Host Kerry Diamond, Cherry Bombe co-founder and editorial director, lined up Sasha Raj of 24 Carrots, chef Samantha Sanz of Talavera, and James Beard Award winner and FnB chef Charleen Badman.
Things got tearful.
When asked what word best describes the panelists, Badman answered "nurturing." “I’m not a mother, but it’s this instinct you have.” That’s reflected in FnB’s portion sizes, the dedication of her staff, and efforts like the Blue Watermelon Project — a group aiming to educate students about gardening, cooking, food costs, and diet. “I want them to know more about food,” Badman says, bringing herself and the rest of us to tears.
When asked who inspired their careers, panelists had varying answers. Sanz answered her restaurant-running, cleaver-wielding grandmother. Badman told us about her New York City boss and mentor. And Raj answered: Charleen.
Badman was visibly blushing, to which Raj said, “If you weren’t so awesome, people wouldn’t keep embarrassing you.”
Things also got silly.
When Badman’s nickname, "the vegetable whisperer," was brought up, Diamond asked, “Do they whisper back?” Said Badman, “Oh yeah.”
It was also a night of new hashtags the audience hoped to remember after the show. To help, a few were #pridebakecollab and #coneonly.
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But above all, it was an inspiring evening, as Yung lived a former life as an investment banker, Raj was on her way to getting a bio chemistry degree, and Sanz’ mother wanted her to be a lawyer. Except all were in this room, backed by Badman’s framed James Beard award.
The venue could not have been more perfect. The podcast was taped in one of the middle rooms of FnB. Monday night, the restaurant is normally closed. It was a welcoming venue, the smell like a spice cabinet packed with fresh coffee, and later like the finger foods set out. Because of the setting, in summertime Scottsdale, only locals were roaming around the courtyard — and only a few tried to get in during the show.
It was a motivating night, woman or not. No matter how much free wine you had, or how puffy you felt from holding back tears, you left energized. You left FnB excited to welcome a new day in the much-matured metropolitan Phoenix.
For more information, visit the Cherry Bombe website. And to hear the show, which should be out in a couple of weeks, subscribe to Radio Cherry Bombe wherever you get your podcasts.