Meet the Tucson City of Gastronomy’s newest squad of Chef Ambassadors

September 15, 2022
By Matt Sterner

"It’s a tremendous honor to participate."

“From its more than 5000-year agricultural history to the layering of cultures and cuisines from centuries of trade and immigration to its innovations like Native Seeds/SEARCH to food heritage celebrations to its current dynamic food scene… Tucson punches far above its weight class in the food world,” said chef Devon Sanner of Zio Peppe.

To say the least, Sanner is thrilled to be one of the chosen to share that particular story with the world as part of the Chef Ambassador program. Tucson City of Gastronomy recently announced its team of culinary professionals that will collaborate with chefs from our sister Cities of Gastronomy.

The official group that’ll be dishin’ out their edible creations consists of Devon Sanner, Kelzi Bartholomaei, Wendy Gauthier  Roderick LeDesma, Ryan Clark, Sarah Lamberth, Travis Peters, and Obadiah “Obie” Hindman.

“It’s a tremendous honor to participate in this international sisterhood and brotherhood of chefs and food artisans around the world,” said Sanner. “In January of 2019, I had the privilege of traveling to the International Gastronomy Forum in Macao, China as part of a Tucson City of Gastronomy delegation along with Erika Bostick-Esham and Felipe Garcia. Getting to spend time with chefs from all over the globe, from Paraty, Brazil to Tsuruoka, Japan — it was revelatory.”

So, this year’s squad of Chef Ambassadors will be sent to international events and will not only plan menus and host cooking demonstrations but also handle many other tasks. This includes importing ingredients from Tucson, getting ahold of additional ingredients at the destination, preparing food in unfamiliar kitchens, and then supervising kitchen staff unacquainted with the ingredients and dishes that are exotic to them.

Photo courtesy of Tucson City of Gastronomy

“I still keep in touch with many of the chefs I met in Macao and we share inspiration and innovation,” said Sanner. “I know Travis Peters had a similar experience from representing Tucson in Dénia, Spain. He’s still in frequent contact with brilliant chefs like Lena Flaten from Ostersund, Sweden and Diego Baquedano from Ensenada, Mexico.”

Since Tucson’s official City of Gastronomy designation in 2015 (the first in the U.S., as a matter of fact), the local culinary community has gained quite a bit of attention in the national and international spotlight.

“The collegial exchange and the fellowship fostered by the UNESCO Creative Cities Network is such a boon not just for chefs, but for the tourism and hospitality sectors in the Cities of Gastronomy,” said Sanner. “The cross-pollination of ideas and the innovation that comes from this global networking can have a dramatic impact on the food economies of the cities in the UCCN.”

Coming up, expect a few announcements about events happening here in Tucson. Those details have yet to be released, but we’ll keep you in the loop.

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