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.
50. Rob Fullmer of Arizona Craft Brewers Guild
It's been over a year since Governor Doug Ducey signed SB 1030 into law. Also known as the Arizona Beer Bill, the legislation allowed Arizona breweries to increase production while also maintaining retail locations like tap rooms and restaurants. And though you might not think you care about beer and laws and production limits on breweries, you might want to know that this law makes it possible for Arizona breweries to grow to the same size as well-known names like Odell in Colorado and Ninkasi in Oregon.
As executive director of the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild, Rob Fullmer knows the passage of the Arizona Beer Bill meant a huge victory for the state's brewers. In fact, he played a key role in making sure it happened. Though he's only been on the job for the last three years, Fullmer and the organization have won a number of awards and accolades recently, including a nod for Best Grassroots Campaign for its efforts relating the Arizona Beer Bill and an acknowledgement for being a leader in public policy by the Arizona Capitol Times. In 2014 the organization launched the award-wining Real, Wild, & Woody Beer Festival, and later this year will host the first Arizona Brewers Ball at the Arizona Biltmore. Most recently, Fullmer kicked off the the first AZ Brewcon, a one day multi-track conference supporting brewers and beer professionals.
Though he was born and raised in Wisconsin, Fullmer currently lives in Tempe with his wife, Brenda, and their dogs Lucy and Cheddar. When he's not working, you can find him walking and riding bikes to breweries, bars, and restaurants that support Arizona craft beer.
Today he dishes on what he was doing 10 years ago and why beer is just as classy as wine.
My go-to place for comfort Italian food in Phoenix is Riazzi's Italian Garden because I can walk there and Chris the bartender knows my wife's and my order, right down to who wants their pepper cracked and who doesn't.
The best-kept secret in Phoenix is that breweries are connecting neighborhoods and leading the revitalization of Phoenix, with 23 opening in three years. There are dozens of neighborhoods where you can now walk or bike to a brewery, sometimes two or three. Ask yourself, would you rather live, work, and play in that kind of Phoenix or somewhere else?
Ten years ago I was working for a tech company and planning on opening a brewery and I never thought I'd be so happy to have not done that. Right now, I can't think of anything more gratifying and rewarding than being the Guild director and helping breweries grow. This really is my dream job, and it's the thing that I think I'm the best at doing.
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The biggest misconception about beer is that it's not as classy or complex as wine when it comes to the dinner table. Both began as beverages for farmers, but beer has more flavor compounds than wine. The reason it we see it in white-tablecloth affairs is because of the dominance of the French cooking tradition in culinary schools. There are other cuisines and other traditions and fusions. It's time that we put beer on equal footing, and I'm not just talking about Imperial Stouts or IPA. A Kolsch or a Pilsner can be that vital nuanced pairing that you're looking for.
The most underrated beer in Arizona is tied to the idea that we are somehow not as good as someplace else. You can say that about almost everything in this state. We don't have beaches or a subway or hot dog trucks dotting the city. We don't have x in my neighborhood or y. We have so many great things, too. I'm not looking back, because I only see the future. Beer adapts to the people and the landscape, and I just mentioned that we're growing. Maybe even where you live right now.
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