The Clever Root

Winter / Spring 2016

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9 4 | t h e c l e v e r r o o t W hen many people think about the state of Arizona, hot and arid might be two descrip- tors that come to mind, conditions that hardly sound suitable for fresh produce, meat and other food products. I'll be the first to admit that I was surprised when the James Beard Foundation extended an invitation to visit Scottsdale as part of a program titled "Desert to Dish" and learn more about all that the agricultural landscape has to offer. e hub for the weekend's activities was the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia. A sprawling Spanish-style resort at the base of Camelback Mountain, it was a gorgeous backdrop for the tours, seminars and exciting events that we were going to experi- ence. We were welcomed by Executive Chef Michael Cairns, who oversees the resort's entire food and beverage program, and given an opportunity to meet the notable chefs all over the country who came to participate. e four chefs—Joey Beato from Community Tavern in Chicago, Brian Luscher from e Grape Restaurant in Dallas, Brandon Foster from Vesta Dipping Grill in Denver, Joe Magnanelli from CUCINA Urbana in San Diego—and one Master Sommelier, Fred Dexheimer, were sepa- rated and would each go on a different farm and producer tour on Friday. I was paired with Chef Joey and his affable Sous Chef, Billy An- thony, and we immediately hit it off, debating the merits of their hometown Chicago deep- dish pizza versus New York thin-crust style. Friday we were up early to board the buses to explore different regions of Arizona and the bounty they had to offer. Our first stop was Pinnacle Farms in Phoenix, run by Janna Anderson. Anderson, a smiling woman who looked every bit the glamourous cowgirl in her cowboy hat, boots and designer sunglasses, had no problem getting down and dirty to show us her 40 acre farm that she has spent years cultivating. e farm grows a variety of crops, from veggies, over 20 varieties of fruits, and most fascinatingly, heritage grains. As we wandered around the farm, taking in the multicolored chickens running around in their coops and the jars of dates and White Sonoran wheat, Anderson explained the importance of growing heritage grain, and keeping these crops active to create va- riety away from mass-grown commercial wheat. It's not oen that we think about where our flours, corn or polenta come from, but it gave pause to those of us there about how it's not just local produce you can embrace, but other food crops as well. Our next stop was Danzeisen Dairy in Phoenix. Arizona is known for its 5 C's: cattle, copper, citrus, cot- ton and climate, so it was fitting that a diary was a stop on our tour. A family business for over 50 years, the entire Danzeisen clan including Kevin, son of the original found- ers and General Manger of Operations, pitches in to help run the business. Donning glamourous shoe covers and sanitary hairnets, we toured their clinical-level clean facilities, learning how the milk is pasteurized and bottled in traditional glass bottles, which can be returned to the dairy for a deposit refund. It is not only Danzeisen's bottles that evoke images of a retro diary; their bottling equipment is over 50 years old as well. EXPLORING ARIZONA'S AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPE BY JESSE HOM-DAWSON COURTESY OF OMNI SCOTTSDALE Chef Joe Magnanelli of CUCINA Urbana in San Diego's dish of octopus, chickpeas, microgreens and sundried tomatoes. Chickens at Pinnacle Farms in Phoenix, Arizona JESSE HOM-DAWSON 1. Pinnacle Farms 2. Danzeisen Dairy

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