The New Yorker
Arizona, a desert state in flux, is dedicated to uncovering food systems focused on agricultural significance. In partnership with the Arizona Expedition campaign and The New Yorker Promotions, Trends on Trends is sharing our favorite companies —businesses that are innovating and reviving ancient ingredients and time-tested techniques.
Magnifying the culinary sense of the American Southwest, here are a few of the standout places and companies disrupting the odds of working in a desert climate and bringing Arizona to the forefront of culinary innovation.
Through the eyes of Emily Elyse Miller, we share highlights of her expedition through Arizona.
Hayden Flour Mills
Phoenix chef Chris Bianco handed me a ziplock filled with equal parts mesquite flour (the ground pods of a local mesquite tree) and Hayden Flour Mills White Sonoran Wheat. It came with his high praise and I later found is lauded amongst many other Valley chefs. This flour mill is all about creating a resurgence of heritage grains through traditional technique and quality ingredients. At the mill you can observe their hands-on process — a mesmerizing cloudy white room where you can just make out the figure of their farmer, Steve Sossaman, as he grinds away, inducing dreams of fresh bread, pasta, and baked goods.
Modeled after a Spanish Colonial garden in Tucson’s historic San Agustin Mission, the foliage in Mission Gardens is a living museum that spans the historical agriculture of Arizona. Carefully organized into sections based on 4,000 years of agriculture, this garden is a place for the community and visitors to learn and contribute to the vast wealth of produce that thrives in a desert landscape. Exploring the garden with the farm’s board member, Roger Pfeuffer, and tasting ancient produce thriving in the middle of the desert and preserved by the passionate team there were highlights of the trip.
Homeboy’s Hot Sauce
It’s hard to keep Jacob Cutino’s Homeboy’s Hot Sauce stocked in my pantry. To me, it’s the perfect hot sauce. With a sauce that has just enough flavor to stand on its own but not overpower a dish, this Phoenix-based maker is doing things small batch and from scratch. Cutino uses peppers from Arizona and works closely with local farms to create his signature Jalapeno, Habanero and Verde flavors. An advocate for Arizona-made products and chefs, Cutino is always seeking innovative ways to unite and share the significance of the cuisine in this region with the rest of the country.
Noble Bread brings back the art of making bread with traditional techniques, and a menu in any notable Valley restaurant will likely include Noble Bread. This small bakery and eatery in Phoenix’s East Valley is a force of baked goods and labor of love. Founder, Jason Raducha is setting the standard for bread making in the Valley and beyond with his carefully constructed combination of heritage grains (including Hayden Flour Mills) and extended fermentation — a process that takes each loaf 36 hours to complete.
I scarfed down a veggie burger from Joe’s Farm Grill before meeting with the man behind the namesake, farmer and founder, Joe Johnston. With residents on property, a sprawling garden, and multiple cafes and restaurants, there’s really no reason to leave. The best way to explore this 15-acre farm and residential community is via Joe’s shiny white Vespa. We rode off as he pointed out the different sections of the farm and I attempted to Snapchat without losing my phone to the wind.
A quick snack on some fresh dates and we were off again. An oasis of agriculture and community, Agritopia is a happy discovery that brings people closer to the process of growing, cooking, and, appreciating food.
Apiaries are beautifully blended into the desert landscape at Miraval. Bees pollinate local foliage to create incredible varietals of honey — like a bright pink one that comes from the pigment of the prickly pear fruit. For Noel Patterson, tending to the bees is a typical morning routine, but I was clad in a full bee suit, ready to observe how bees interact with the desert landscape and (of course) to try some honey. There was a noticeable distinction between the honey from different hives around the property as the flavor profiles are determined by the bees’ location. The memorable day was spent in a picturesque desert landscape while observing 60,000+ bees (from a safe distance), eating a substantial amount of honey, and further understanding the vitality of bees in desert agriculture.
Queen Creek Olive Mill
It rained olives as I sat near one of the trees at Queen Creek Olive Mill during harvest. Collected on a tarp below, the olives were then gathered and brought to the back room for pressing. Liquid gold streamed from a pipe as the mill’s founder, Perry Rea, knelt down to collect his prize — a noisy process, but well worth it. Having grown up in Arizona, I’ve been using this olive oil for years so my first time out at the farm was a connective experience.
Lovely photos by: An Pham