Meet the Makers

Arizona's Local Food Culture

Arizona's food culture dates back 4,000 years and is a tapestry of Mexican, Native American and European traditions. This is one of the reasons that UNESCO named Tucson, Arizona the first U.S. City of Gastronomy in 2016.

The state is populated with locally owned-and-operated restaurants and an amazing variety of cuisine for every palate. Check out Diego Madueno, Hope Peshlakai, Armando Hernandez and Nadia Holguin's contributions to Arizona's food scene.

Hayden Flour Mills

Hayden Flour Mills is devoted to naturally stone milling heritage and ancient grains. The mill offers high quality, natural, hand-cultivated flours that are never bleached or enriched, and always freshly milled.

Charles Hayden started the original mill, when he discovered that Arizona has a good climate to grow wheat. He first started with white Sonora wheat, which doesn't require an excessive amount of water to grow. Today, the mill is still family owned and operated by father-daughter-duo Jeff and Emma Zimmerman.

Arizona's Local Food Culture

From pastas to pancake mixes, their products have become a staple at farmer's markets and local shops.

We caught up with Diego Madueno, the head miller at Hayden Flour Mills to learn more about the process and passion that goes into their products. Madueno, originally from Mazatlan, Mexico, is a former chef who takes quality food and grain seriously.

"I believe in preserving this good quality of grain. Society is demanding better quality of food," Madueno said. "Bread has been the most basic food for centuries, so we have a deep connection as human beings with bread."

Hope's Frybread

Frybread is a delicious deep-fried flat bread made with flour, salt, water baking powder that is fried in oil. The result is a puffy bread that is perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Since 2011, Hope's Frybread has been serving up both traditional and modern twists on this Navajo staple. For years, they sold fry bread at a food stand until opening their current location.

Hope Peshlakai, owner and chef of Hope's Frybread in Mesa, Arizona, takes her inspiration for cooking authentic Navajo frybread from her grandmother.

"She taught me everything there is to know in the kitchen. She was just amazing, she could make the best food out of this tiny kitchen she had," Peshlakai said. "She loved people and that was her love language — to feed people."

Peshlakai says she hopes to do the same with her restaurant, while creating a welcoming, warm place for people to enjoy food that reminds them of home.

Arizona's Local Food Culture

Cocina Chiwas

Based in Tempe, Cocina Chiwas is the brainchild of chefs Armando Hernandez and Nadia Holguin. The duo, originally from Chihuahua, Mexico pulls inspiration from their culture while embracing Arizona flavors. Their other restaurant, Tacos Chiwas, is an award-winning Arizona staple that both locals and visitors have come to adore.

Arizona's Local Food Culture

"There's a lot of like similar things from Chihuahua and Arizona I think that's why we feel at home," Hernandez said. "We want to showcase something that's regionally ours."

The restaurant is located in the housing development project Culdesac, the first carless neighborhood in the country.

The couple takes pride in sourcing and creating all of the restaurants furnishings and equipment either themselves or locally — including the tables, chairs, ceramic dishes and the grill.

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