by the University of Arizona and the work
done on preserving historic crops by Native
Seeds, a local organization.
Among places in Tucson where visitors
can see this preservation in action is Mission
Garden, a living agricultural museum where
the grounds are planted with heirloom
orchards and vegetable gardens. Interpretive
tours of Mission Garden, which is planted
in the style of a Spanish walled colonial
garden on a site once farmed by the ancient
Hohokam and Tohono O’odham tribes, can
be arranged for groups.
Located in Scottsdale, The Simple Farm
produces caramel candies from its herd of
Nubian dairy goats on the property. Groups
can try bottle-feeding baby goats and hold
catered events in such spaces as The Orchard, Teepee Garden and the Farmhouse
Garden. The farm has recently teamed up
with The Scottsdale Resort to hold Suppers
at the Farm in one of its garden areas.
In Sedona, where the surrounding Verde
Valley is Arizona’s most celebrated wine region, Alcantara Vineyards is a standout venue for wine tasting, tours and group events,
according to James. Set along the Verde
River where bald eagles can be spotted
flying overhead, Alcantara is planted with
over 13,000 vines and produces 12 varietals.
“The owner, Barbara Predmore, one of
the early leaders of Arizona’s farm-to-table
movement, created this beautiful winery
out of a place that was just rocks,” James
said. “We have used Alcantara for a day
trip or for many lunches and wine-pairing
dinners where you can bring in Native
American hoop dancers.”
New Mexico is a place to savor distinctive
cuisine that owes its origins to a flavorful
hybrid of Native America, Hispanic and Anglo pioneer influences. Its chief component
is the chile pepper, the state fruit, which is
grown in southern New Mexico’s Hatch Valley and harvested during the late summer.
Some chile peppers are picked while still
green and then roasted, while others are left
to turn red on the vine and then frequently
dried for use in sauces and stews.
Opportunities for groups to not only
sample New Mexican cuisine but to learn
about its nuances and heritage abound, according to Lydia Griego-Hansen, co-owner
of Destination Southwest, an Albuquer-que-based DMC.
“One of the biggest things we do for in-
centive groups is to talk about our chile pep-
pers and Native American traditions and
why they make our cuisine different from
even that of Texas or Arizona,” she said.
“We’ll have them meet with a local chef who
makes jams, jellies, teas and other products
from our indigenous plants. If a group is
meeting in Las Cruces, we can take them to
the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico
State University to learn about the different
Among Griego-Hansen’s’ favorite venues
for introducing groups to Native American
culinary influences is Albuquerque’s Indi-
an Pueblo Cultural Center. Here groups can
enjoy events catered by the on-site Pueblo
Harvest Cafe, where chef Michael Giese has
been named Chef of the Year by the New
Mexico Restaurant Association. Among
the specialties are Indian fry-bread tacos
heaped with picante sauce and locally
grown pinto beans.
Another Albuquerque venue emphasizing local food products is the group-friendly El Pinto Restaurant and Salsa Company,
which makes and sells a wide variety of
red and green chile salsa and serves dishes
based on recipes from the owner’s grandmother Josephina Chavez-Griggs.
“It’s in an old hacienda that serves
very authentic New Mexico food—they
really work well with corporate groups,”
For a bucolic experience just outside of
Albuquerque, a top choice is Los Pobla-nos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, which
grows lavender as well as Chimayo chiles,
rare varieties of squash, beans and other
varieties of heirloom produce on its 25-
acre grounds. The 20-room inn, which
is available for meetings and corporate
retreats, is a popular event venue that
offers cooking classes as well as a series of
four-course Long Table dinners served for
up to 60 guests.
Just how varied and complex New Mexican cuisine can be is the focus of the Santa
Fe School of Cooking, where the myriad
offerings for groups include workshops on
cooking with green or red chiles, restaurant walking tours of downtown Santa Fe,
culinary teambuilding and more.
“We’ve been able to do some amazing
things with the Santa Fe School of Cooking, including cooking classes held out in
the vineyards,” said Arlene Schiffer, president of Santa Fe-based Passport DMC.
“You can also arrange to bring the group
to a lovely private home where you cook
in the kitchen and then sit down and have
THE SIMPLE FARM, SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.
EL PINTO RESTAURANT AND SALSA COMPANY, ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.
ALCANTARA VINEYARDS, SEDONA, ARIZ.