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Q&A: Introducing Kate and Johnny

Kate Kretschmann and Johnny Smith are the newest members of the Edible Baja Arizona team.

August 20, 2015

We are excited to introduce you to the newest members of the Edible Baja Arizona team. Kate Kretschmann is our new Business Coordinator, and Johnny Smith is our new Advertising Sales Representative. Already, they’re making a big difference around the office, and we can’t wait to see how they each shape this next chapter of Edible Baja Arizona.

And now, without further ado:



Kate Kretschmann

Business Coordinator

Kate is a Michigan transplant with an editorial background in encyclopedia publishing and online advertising, having earned her BA in Journalism from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. She’s worked as an editor, writer, researcher, and project coordinator in virtual organizations and in companies across the US, and starts this week as eBA’s new Business Coordinator, keeping an eye on circulation, subscriptions, and eBA’s many advertising clients. After years of roaming, she stopped by Tucson in 2012, fell in love with the place, and has refused to leave ever since.

You’re originally from Michigan. What made you decide to call Tucson home?

I had just moved back from overseas and came to Tucson to visit my brother for a couple of months and get my bearings. I rented a place in Barrio Viejo, and within a week I’d met half the neighborhood and felt completely comfortable and welcome and at home here. That was three years ago.

What do you think is the most exciting thing happening with food in Baja Arizona right now?

I like that businesses are relying more and more on local food purveyors, to the point that good, fresh meat and veg is really accessible and doesn’t have the prohibitive pricing it has in, for example, my hometown. I also recently realized that custom farming is becoming more of a thing. It’s so cool that a chef can design a menu item with some obscure strain of broccoli, call a farm 20 miles away, and they’ll just start growing it.

What’s your favorite local food to make, buy, or eat?

Roasting poblanos on top of my rickety little gas stove is a huge novelty for me—there were no peppers in my life before moving here, and I’ve still got a lot to learn about using them in cooking. As for going out, people keep taking me to Tacos Apson, which is incredibly delicious, but I can never remember where it is—it’s located in some kind of floating vortex in South Tucson.

You mentioned that you’re an avid traveler. Where have you been, and where do you hope to go in the future?

I didn’t even have a passport until I was 30, but as it turns out, the most fun thing in the world is showing up alone in a new place and just having to figure things out. My first long trip was South America, and it was great, so I took a job in Korea for a couple of years, and that was a good home base to see the rest of Asia. The next one will probably start in Slovenia and end somewhere in Turkey, but I’ll have to squirrel away savings for a few years first.

You’ve worn a lot of different hats over the years: editor, writer, researcher, and project coordinator. How do you see past experiences feeding into your work for Edible Baja Arizona?

I started out in print, but I’ve been doing project management/coordination work for a long time, and I cannot communicate the dorky excitement I feel about bringing those skills to a print publication. It makes me very happy to see these beautiful proofs lying around the office that I can pick up and hold in my hands. Swoon.

I say this all the time, but I think the best learning experiences actually come from the jobs that don’t go on your resume. I’ve sold bikes, taught English, tended bar, worked construction, shucked oysters, etc. Each one gives you a different perspective of what good customer service and proper organization is supposed to look like, and I think that’s really valuable–I call on those skills all the time.



Johnny Smith

Advertising Sales Representative

Johnny Smith’s first job was as a busboy at the now gone, but not forgotten, Conti’s Italian restaurant on Tucson’s Northwest side (ask him to tell you about their frequent guest, “Uncle Joe” Bonanno). Since then he has moved his way up managing different restaurants including, Conti’s, Miguel’s and Café Terra Cotta. For the past several years he has been well known through the restaurant industry as a Sales Representative for Alliance Beverage. Trained as a sommelier and certified from Cicerone, Johnny has a love of the food and beverage industry that runs deep.

Raised by a Irish farmer from Georgia and a Mexican mother, Johnny’s comfort foods run the gamut. Pigs feet and Oxtail are as favored as caviar and porterhouse. His passion for Southern Arizona and its food is shared with his wife, Marcia.

You’re an Arizona native and have lived in Tucson for 30 years. What’s your favorite thing about living here?

I have traveled extensively and have lived for short periods in other places but I always return to Tucson because of my family, the food, and the strong sense of community.

What do you think is the most exciting thing happening with food in Baja Arizona right now?

I think like so many places in the country the farm to table movement is the most exciting thing happening right now and I want to see it expanded.

What’s your favorite local food to make, buy, or eat?

One of my favorite “local” foods to make is pozole. I like to dress it up with different ingredients.

You’re a trained sommelier. What are some of your favorite local wines, and do you have any favorite food and wine pairings?

Local wines have come a long way in the past few years and I have tried some nice rosés as of late. I am quite impressed with the flavor and the quality. I love to pair them with light dishes like grilled octopus over some local greens.

You spent many years working within the Tucson restaurant scene. What strategies would you say contribute to a local restaurant’s success?

After years of working in and with restaurants I think dedication to the product is the most important thing to be successful. Tastes change and being able to change with the times is important and still maintain the quality you are known for is key.

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