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.
51. Sasha Raj of 24 Carrots
Though she's a biochemist by degree, Sasha Raj says she's always been a chef at heart. That's why she opened 24 Carrots, a "natural cafe and urban juicery," in 2008 along with her cousin after becoming frustrated with the difficulty of finding wholesome, natural food options for those with dietary restrictions. Since opening, the restaurant has become a haven for vegetarians, vegans, and just about anyone with special dietary needs, as Raj has been known to create one-of-kind meals and treats for customers with dietary restrictions.
"The last eight years have flown by in a flurry of chopping and juicing," Raj says. "And I'm so blessed to still be doing what I love."
When she's not in the kitchen at the Tempe restaurant, you can usually find her exploring Arizona with her corgi, Nimbus. Today, she dishes on one of her favorite hiking destinations and her go-to place for Indian comfort food.
My go-to place for Indian comfort food in Phoenix is Little India. Their mulli (radish) parathas (flakey tortillas stuffed with veggies) always hit the spot.
The best-kept secret in Phoenix is ... oh man, I could answer this so many ways, and I'm going to! Sycamore Canyon, for hiking — it's just a short drive from Phoenix but well worth the jaunt. "Alka-Ben," or sister Alka, in Gilbert makes, hands down, the best samosas in Phoenix. Gujarati style, they're light and well seasoned and just the perfect size to eat five, and feel like you're still not cheating on that diet! But you gotta know a person to get an order in, and isn't that awesome? Also, our local farms. Phoenix grows stuff, people. Really good, delicious stuff. You can get great, locally grown organic produce for really reasonable prices through CSAs and farmers markets — bonus? A healthy dose of #localfirst good karma.
Phoenix could use more miso in desserts (oh, I love it so) and less people hiking ill-prepared in 120 degrees.
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I'm totally obsessed with kimchi and gochujang right now and totally over Sriracha (but I'll still eat it).
My restaurant pet peeve is national food days. There are too many, and well ... too many.
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.