Ben Walters: Owner, North Market Spices
Why he's a Tastemaker: When Hot Chicken Takeover needs 50 pounds of cayenne or Barley's Brewing Co. needs 200 vanilla beans, they visit Ben Walters. His spice shop has been a fixture in the North Market for nearly six years, and business has grown steadily every year. His shelves are lined with 1,500 spices, dried herbs and custom blends-all packaged in resealable bags with handwritten labels. Now, as more kitchens care about sourcing locally, Walters' number is stored in the phones of many a talented chef-from Kent Rigsby to Marcus Meacham to John Dornback at Basi Italia-for bulk orders and proprietary blends. Walters supplies fenugreek ("It gives a maple-y flavor"), coriander and cinnamon to the brewers at Wolf's Ridge, a Moroccan spice blend to CocoCat Bakery & Chocolates and a barbecue rub to Holy Smoke. Even mixologists like Phil Richardson at The Walrus go to him for infusions like a riff on Chinese Five-Spice Blend.
Sourcing is key: We love Walters for his-and his staff's-great recommendations (filet mignon, meet Coffee Rub). Professional chefs love him for his commitment to freshness and quality. "I go through very limited suppliers to get insanely high quality stuff, and try to make sure it's steam-sanitized versus eradiated," Walters says.
A chef's life, without the long nights: "I always wanted to do something with food," says Walters, who was known for his barbecue rubs even in college at Arizona State University. "With this shop, I can experiment with flavors but I don't have to churn out dishes."
Ohio proud: After studying tourism at ASU, Walters got a job at Experience Columbus. He's still a passionate ambassador for the city. "We have really amazing food in this town and we should be proud of that," he says.
Busting a myth: You might assume it costs more to get your garam masala and other pantry staples at the North Market than at your local grocery store. Not true, says Walters. "We're certainly not more expensive and our spices are much fresher because we have a high turnover rate."
Best-selling blend: One of the shop's top sellers is the Sazon, an all-purpose Latin-Caribbean blend. "It's good on everything," Walters says. "I'm waiting for someone to come back and tell me they put it in cupcakes."
What's next: Walters plans to expand his 1,800-square-foot warehouse in Grandview, where he mixes and packages product, into the adjacent space later this year. -KP Green
About Ben Walters
Age:34 • Previous gigs: Experience Columbus, Haiku • Food heroes: Anthony Bourdain. "I read a lot of his books in college." • Guilty pleasure: Doctored-up frozen burritos, baked in the oven with a little olive oil and canned chilies • Recommended reading: Google. "You can read 30 recipes online, take the best parts and come up with something of your own." • Favorite ingredient: CuminAlexis Joseph: Co-Owner, Alchemy Juice Bar + Cafe
Why she's a Tastemaker: Alexis Joseph makes us want to eat healthy. She's the bubbly and sharp certified dietitian behind healthful cafe Alchemy, located inside the lobby of The Fitness Loft off Parsons Avenue. Her menu of whole-food smoothies, acai and dragon fruit bowls, sandwiches slathered in cashew mayo and organic kraut, illustrates how to get good-for-you foods to appeal to the masses. Joseph is also on the rise as a go-to nutrition expert with recipes and advice featured on Huffington Post, and in Shape, Self and Harper's Bazaar. You can also find her healthful musings on MyFitnessPal, as well as her blog Hummusapien, which is packed with well-tested, plant-based recipes.
Why it works: "What really makes Alchemy unique is having that combination of health care and food," she says. "I like to think of our items as functional foods. It's not just chocolate avocado pudding. It's using this awesome raw, organic cacao that's super packed with antioxidants, using avocado instead of dairy for a heart-healthy fat."
It's about transparency: Like what you eat? Joseph will happily hand over the recipe, if it's not already posted on her blog. "We want our customers to feel empowered and show them it's not hard."
How it happened: As an undergrad at Ohio State, Joseph met Abed Alshahal, one of the brothers behind restaurant group A&R Creative. The two would often dream of opening their own health-centric cafe. On the verge of finishing grad school, Joseph got a call from Alshahal. He asked her one simple question: Want to run that cafe we always talked about?
More to come: They are actively working on a new location. "But we like the boutique nature of Alchemy and we don't want to rush it," she says. The big dream: to see Alchemy branded products, like curried chickpeas, in grocery stores.
What inspired her: In college, she started reading vegan food blogs like Oh She Glows, books like "Skinny Bitch," and documentaries like "Forks Over Knives." That laid the foundation for a life-altering trip to Israel where she met two people living a plant-based lifestyle. "I fell in love. It was so eye-opening," she says. -Beth Stallings
About Alexis Joseph
Age: 26 • Food heroes: Michael Pollan • Guilty pleasures: I'm obsessed with chocolate. Dark chocolate and pizza. • Go-to drink: I always get a vodka soda with lime juice at Denmark and they have one with muddled berries in the vodka soda. Or Fat Head's Bumble Berry. • Favorite ingredient: I use oats a lot. And also cashews. I think it's crazy what you can do to make things creamy with cashews.