Who’s your “Herb Daddy”? Café Allegro at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix is lucky to partner with Arizona Herb Daddy, the Mesa, AZ–based herb and spice farm belonging to DeWayne Frelix, for weekly deliveries.
Variety attracts DeWayne as much as flavor; Arizona Herb Daddy grows more than eight varieties of basil, including lemon basil, lime basil, cinnamon basil, purple ruffle basil, amethyst basil, and Christmas basil. And they all have a unique yet often subtle difference in flavor. DeWayne uses his herbs to create unique spice and sea salt blends such as Thai chili powder, black Hawaiian sea salt with lime basil, Valencia bell pepper powder, dried chanterelle mushroom powder, and dried key lime powder — to name only a few. Adding color to flavor are DeWayne’s edible flowers that make a colorful addition to any salad.
Although herbs are his primary business, DeWayne also grows—and supplies Bon Appétit with—unique heirloom vegetables including 18 tomato varieties, such as Mexican midget, white cherry, and black plum. In his garden you will also find esoteric yet salad-friendly fare such as lilac bell peppers, white bell peppers, rainbow carrots, and Easter egg radishes. DeWayne also grows peppers for the fire-loving foodie, including corno di torro peppers, sun fire chilis, and the elusive ghost chili, known as the world’s hottest pepper. Café Allegro’s menu and grad-and-go items feature DeWayne’s custom-blend lettuces, which are beautifully crisp and provide a clean balance of bite, bitterness, spice, and sweetness, says Chris Lenza, executive chef at Café Allegro and regional forager. In Arizona heat, lettuces are a major feat to grow.
“I knew we were going to develop a great relationship with DeWayne the first time I met him, because he only spoke words of passion for his products.”
After growing herbs, spices, and produce for 25 years, DeWayne launched Arizona Herb Daddy two years ago to bring these unique and original herbs to his consumers. An Arizona native and a third-generation farmer, he grows many products that aren’t marketed commercially. He is willing to grow products upon request for Café Allegro. DeWayne calls himself an“extreme flavorist” because of his love and curiosity for unusual herbs and spices. And because he uses a rich fertilizer that contains more than 90 trace minerals, he says his products have more flavor than most, and this may surprise people.
“I knew we were going to develop a great relationship with DeWayne the first time I met him, because he only spoke words of passion for his products,” says Chris. “He wasn’t just trying to gain another client. He wanted the product to be perfect for Bon Appétit all the time!”
Submitted by Lauren Potter, Floor Supervisor