I consider myself as a blogger a messenger of information about the local restaurant and food community. Posts on food festivals, restaurants opening, wine tastings and on rare occasion my opinion may get in the way based on an experience(s).
Was it Gene Simmons or David Lee Roth who said “if it’s too loud, you’re too old”. I remember me and my sister telling that to our parents as teenagers as we cranked up the radio listening to Van Halen and Led Zeppelin around the house and in the car. Now it’s me that’s too old as I can’t understand why restaurants need to crank it up with DJs or loud music during our dining experience. Loud music is one of a few pet peeves I have about the restaurant industry.
Recently I visited an establishment for brunch hoping to enjoy several dishes, cocktails and a visit with friends. Instead we were one and done as it was simply to loud to hold a conversation. On weekends it’s the norm in old town Scottsdale and other parts of the valley to wake up to loud music with your eggs bendict and Bloody Mary, but why?
It’s not just brunch you need to bring ear plugs to as were seeing more restaurants turning the volume up during lunch and dinner.
Loud music in restaurants isn’t new.
This trend isn’t new as this Bon Appetit article from 2010 suggests. I guess to a certain demographic loud music says a restaurant is “lively and successful”, to me it means ” you’re not getting my business at this time”. Many articles have been written since then and not just in restaurant related magazines and websites.
This Vox article mentions how the loud decibel level can be a health threat and this 2015 Bloomberg article calls out chef’s and restaurateurs to turn the volume down.
Acoustic technology and a restaurants design have effected the decibel level but the volume dial can cure that on a daily basis.
Good thing the Phoenix area has a diverse community of restaurants so I’ll patronize those offering good food, service and dialed down noise level.
What do you think about restaurant noise levels? Drop me an email or comment about what your restaurant pet peeves are and I may address it.
Celebrity chefs, food, wine and sunshine what could be better. Not much for five days in April when the 3rd annual Nirvana Food & Wine Festival returns to Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa. The popular culinary event celebrates food, wine and cocktails with tastings, events, parties and dinners.
Making their return this year will be celebrity chefs Robert Irvine and Todd English along with Jose Garces. They will join local chefs Christopher Gross, Matt Carter, Scott Contant and host Beau MacMillan.
Two exiting new events have been added to this years calendar Wood, Wine & Wagyu and Nirvana After Party at Fat Ox. Below are all the details of all the events scheduled.
Wood, Wine & Wagyu
Hosted by Chef Beau MacMillan, David Rose and Jason Asher; presented by Woodford Reserve and ZD Wines
Wednesday, April 24, 7-10 p.m.; Paradise Views Patio & Lower Lawn; $225 plus tax per person
Nirvana 2019 will kick off with an intimate, sit-down, family-style dinner featuring Wagyu beef from Snake River Farms cooked over a wood fire by local and national chefs. The dinner also includes craft cocktails made with Woodford Reserve bourbon, specialty wines, a Davidoff cigar reception, and live entertainment.
Master of Taste Dinner 1
Hosted by legendary winemaker Tuck Beckstoffer and Top Chef Alum Bruce Kalman
Wednesday, April 24; 7-10 p.m.; Villa Mariposa; $350 plus tax per person; limited availability
The Master of Taste dinners are intimate culinary gatherings that pair top regional and local chefs with a notable winemaker. The first of four such evenings puts the spotlight on Napa’s Tuck Beckstoffer Wines with pioneering winemaker Tuck himself playing host. The dinner experience will be elevated by Sanctuary’s stunning valley views, seen through the dramatic glass walls of Villa Mariposa, one of Sanctuary’s ultra-exclusive private homes.
Bourbon Street Blues
Hosted by Food Network’s Marc Murphy and Dead Rabbit’s Jillian Vose
Thursday, April 25, 7-9 p.m.; Infinity Pool and Lawn; $135 plus tax per person
This grand New Orleans-style celebration returns for a second year, with guests encouraged to don Mardi Gras-inspired attire while mingling and noshing on an extraordinary spread of food and drinks. Live music will set the beat for guests to dance while the Valley’s top mixologists set the party vibe with inspired cocktail creations.
Master of Taste Dinner 2
Phenom winemaker Jesse Katz pairs up with Chef Dustin Valette
Thursday, April 25; 7-10 p.m.; Villa Mariposa; $350 plus tax per person; limited availability
Nirvana’s second winemaking evening features rising star Jesse Katz, innovative founder of Aperture Cellars from Alexander Valley, California, which focuses on Bordeaux varietals and demonstrates an expression of art both inside the bottle and out, and the highest-rating varietal from California, Devil Proof Vineyards.
Flutes & Coops
Hosted by Todd English and D Vincent Williams and the Nashville All-Stars; presented by Veuve Cliquot
Friday, April 26, 6:30-7:15 p.m. (VIP), 7:15-10 p.m. (general admission); The Views Ballroom, Paradise Views Patio and Lower Lawn; $225 plus tax VIP/ $150 plus tax GA per person
Fried chicken gets fancy during this Champagne-focused soiree, featuring Veuve Clicquot and some of the country’s biggest culinary talent. Festival-goers can book VIP admission to enjoy 45 minutes of personal time with their favorite participating chefs and mixologists including Bar Brawl’s Season 2 champion Kiefer Gilbert.
Master of Taste Dinner 3
Hosted by winemakers Dan Kosta and Rich Aurilia with Chef François de Melogue
Friday, April 26, 7-10 p.m.; Villa Mariposa; $500 plus tax per person; limited availability
Nirvana’s third Master of Taste Dinner brings together legendary winemaker Dan Kosta of AldenAlli (Sonoma, California) with former San Francisco Giants shortstop Rich Aurilia, now a partner in Red Stitch Wine Group (Napa Valley, California).
Nirvana After Party at Fat Ox
Chef host Matt Carter welcomes celebrity mixologist Jillian Vose, Jason Asher and Micah Olsen with top chef Bruce Kalman
Friday, April 26, 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.; Fat Ox, 6316 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale; $125 plus tax per person
Nirvana’s first-ever late-night event will be an exclusive, roped-off, live-DJ affair at one of Scottsdale’s sexiest restaurants. Fat Ox chef Matt Carter and mixologist Jillian Vose, formerly of Sanctuary’s own jade bar and now owner of New York City’s hottest cocktail bar, The Dead Rabbit, will headline the see-and-be-seen party. Guests will rub shoulders with the best of Nirvana’s celebrity chefs and local mixologists, including Jason Asher, owner of Counter Intuitive and Undertow and former GQ Bombay Sapphire’s “most inspired bartender”.
Celebrity Golf Tournament
Hosted by The Golf Channel’s Matt Ginella
Saturday, April 27, 8 a.m. registration and 9 a.m. tee; Mountain Shadows; $$400 per player
Neighboring Mountain Shadows’ Short Course will play host to Nirvana’s hugely popular celebrity golf tournament, hosted by Matt Ginella of The Golf Channel’s Morning Drive. Famous faces from the worlds of sports, food and drink will pair up with foursomes for a day on the greens geared towards fun, including delectable small bites, a luncheon buffet and beverages.
Rosé Parté at Wrigley Mansion
Wrigley Mansion’s Chefs Christopher Gross and Jamie Hormel welcome celebrity chef Robert Irvine, Lindsay Autry, mixologist Libby Lingua, the Bella Twins and musical guests The Potash Twins
Saturday, April 27, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; Wrigley Mansion, 2501 E. Telawa Trail, Phoenix; $150 plus tax per person
The rosé-all-day trend continues with Rosé Parté, returning to Nirvana by popular demand, this time to Phoenix’s storied and elegant iconic mansion, Wrigley Mansion. Also returning to the Nirvana scene are The Bella Twins, Nikki and Brie Bella of WWE fame, stars of E! Network’s Total Bellas, and the inspiration behind Belle Radici wines. Guests will enjoy fabulous pairings of rosé and fine food while exploring the historic environs.
Best of the West
Hosted by Chef Scott Conant and celebrity mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim
Saturday, April 27, 6:30-7:15 p.m. (VIP), 7:15-10 p.m. (general admission); elements, Praying Monk, jade bar, Sunset Garden, Paradise Views Patio and Lower Lawn; $250 plus tax VIP/$175 plus tax GA per person
The West’s most beloved Arizona chefs will gather for an evening send-off, celebrating Nirvana 2019 with a spectacular walk-around tasting event and an incredible variety of wines. VIP attendees gain early access and extra time with the chefs.
Master of Taste Dinner 4
Hosted by Tim Martin of Tusk Wines
Saturday, April 27, 7-10 p.m.; Villa Mariposa; $500 plus tax per person; limited availability
Nirvana’s final Master of Taste Dinner spotlights winemaker Tim Martin, founder of Napa’s luxury wine brands Tusk Estates, Immortal Estate and Belle Radici. Tim joins Arizona legends Chuck Wiley, Mark Tarbell, Vincent Guerithault, and Alex Stratta for this amazing night of food, wine and special music guests.
Tequila & Tortillas
Hosted by Iron Chef Jose Garces and renowned artist Genero Garcia
Sunday, April 28, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; elements, Praying Monk, jade bar, Sunset Garden, Paradise Views Patio and Lower Lawn; $150 plus tax per person
¡Salud! Tequila is the star of Nirvana’s farewell brunch featuring Southwestern specialties and the best of the blue agave plant. Live music makes it a fiesta to remember as Nirvana bids adios to its 2019 showcase.
If you’re not familiar with the Tuscon food and wine scene now is a great opportunity to get to know it. This Saturday’s SAVOR Food and Wine Festival showcases southern Arizona’s restaurants, wineries, breweries and distilleries at the Tucson Botanical Garden. Over 60 participants will be offering tastes and sips of their food and drinks.
The 6th annual event promotes the region as a serious player on the national food scene. The festival is co-sponsored by the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance, Local First Arizona and Tuscon Botanical Garden. The three non-profits promote the cultural uniqueness that southern Arizona has to offer.
“The Savor Food and Wine Festival not only showcases the rich and delicious culture of the region, but highlights the importance of supporting these local food businesses in our daily lives,” said Kimber Lanning, Founder and Executive Director of Local First Arizona. “Much of Southern Arizona’s local economy is driven by those in the dining, culinary, and local foods industries. Without them, we wouldn’t have the diverse culture and economy that we see today in Tucson and beyond.”
Tastes and sips at SAVOR Food & Wine Festival
Festival goers can expect to taste delicious foods from new restaurants along with long time Tucson favorites. A few of the restaurants participating include…..
Pastiche Modern Eatery, Tohono Chul Garden Bistro, Omni Tuscon National, Merkin Vineyards Pizza Wagon, Casino Del Sol, El Cisne Cocina de Mexico and Brushfire BBQ.
Wineries, distilleries and breweries include….. Barrio Brewing, Caduceus Cellars, Pillsbury Wine Co. Whiskey Del Bac, Mother Road Brewing Co. and Adventurous Stills.
Guests will also enjoy educational food demonstrations, live music, unique art displays and a raffle. Admission includes Butterfly Magic and the “Out of the Woods” exhibit on tour from the New York Botanical Garden.
The festival runs from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. with tickets costing $79. Tickets are available at https://www.saaca.org/
The Tuscon Botanical Garden is at 2150 N. Alveron Way.
Central Phoenix’s Taco Guild restaurant takes the new year pretty seriously as they’ve introduced new cocktails and food. The new cocktails were crafted by new mixologist Kyla Dahl who comes to Taco Guild after spending the last few years crafting cocktails at Scottsdale’s Liberty Station Smokehouse. It was there she learned to make creative cocktails and make a name for herself in the Phoenix cocktail community.
Dahl has shaken things up with 7 new cocktails that pair well with Taco Guild’s Mexican food. All the new cocktails are priced at $12 each. Most of the new drinks use tequila or mezcal with a few of the drinks listed below.
Rather than closing restaurants as owners move on they are finding new owners to keep them up and running. Yesterday I posted about The House Brasserie getting new owners, today TEXAZ Grill has a new owner.
After 33 years owner Steve Freidkin was ready to move on but didn’t want to close his famous Phoenix restaurant. Selling almost a million Chicken Fried Steaks and Texas style food new owners, the Nguyen family don’t plan any changes.
The new owners
The Nguyen’s moved to Arizona in 2007 from Houston where they immigrated to in 1989. They have been longtime fans of the restaurant ever since and are looking forward to taking it over.
“Our entire family is excited to take the reins at TEXAZ Grill and continue the proud traditions started by Steve Freidkin and Jim Mitchell way back in 1985,” says Long Nguyen. “Most important, we want TEXAZ fans to know their restaurant is in good hands, and we look forward to serving up Phoenix’s best steaks, chicken fried steaks and more for another 33 years.”
Long time staff and management will stay in place to continue serving comfort classics like steaks, chili and BBQ.
Friedkin will stay on board with the new owners through November and will then become a customer.
“After three plus decades as owner, chief cook and bottle washer at TEXAZ Grill, I’m ready to ride off into the sunset,” says Steve Freidkin. “But first I had to make sure that my staff and our customers, who are both like family to me, were all in great hands. It was very important to me that TEXAZ remains a family run restaurant.”
“The staff makes TEXAZ Grill great, and I know that they will have the same friendly service and use the same recipes that we’ve had for the past 33 years, including chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, TEXAZ Red Chili, pecan pie, and more.”
Don’t make any plans for the week of February 17th-24th 2019 until you’ve bought your tickets to Devour Culinary Classic. Named by the New York Times as the Best Culinary Festival in the Southwest DCC returns to the Desert Botanical Garden for its 10th anniversary.
“Our main objective is to support the development and promotion of the culinary and extended local food community and culture in Arizona, bringing deserved local and national attention to our state’s food scene,” said Thomas Barr, Executive Director of Local First Arizona. “Ten years later after this event started, we can really see the effect it has had on building Phoenix and Arizona as a culinary destination.”
Like in previous years culinary events are planned during the week leading up to the two-day event. The week kicks off on Sunday the 17th with Devour Phoenix Bartending Competition. Location and times are not yet confirmed.
On Thursday the 21st is Devour the World at the Japanese Public Garden in downtown Phoenix. From 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. guests will enjoy the international flavors of Phoenix. The line-up of local chefs is still being planned. $75
The weekend at Desert Botanical Gardens
With locals chefs such as James Porter chef/owner of Terra farm + manor, Tamara Stanger chef at Cotton & Copper will be there as will headliner Silvana Salcido Esparanza. Esparanza is owner/chef of Barrio Cafe and Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva.
“Does it get any better than strolling through the magnificent Southwest landscape, noshing on deliciously crafted small plates while sipping Arizona wines under the springtime desert sun? Not to me, or to the thousands of enthusiastic attendees who sell out Devour year after year,” said Howard Seftel, renowned and retired Arizona food critic who has attended the Devour Culinary Classic over the last decade.
The full line-up of chefs and restaurants is still being finalized for the two-day event.
Your never to old to learn about wine, beer and spirits and the staff at Mountain Shadows resort and Hearth ’61 teaches us about all three. The Paradise Valley resort is offering an every other week seminar about wine, spirits and beer called Spirited Sipping Seminars. The 30-45 minute seminar is taught by resort Food & Beverage director Jim Gallen and bartender Travis. Guests will taste each of the three beverages discussed and be able to ask questions.
As the wine, spirits and beer world continue evolve learning the history, making of and trends of cocktails, wine and beer becomes more interesting. During the cocktail seminars you will learn how to make cocktails and receive the recipes.
Wine, Beer & Spirits seminar schedule
Saturday afternoon classes start at 3 p.m. and are $30 per class. The following classes are scheduled through December.
Oct. 20- Brews & (Taste) Buds. USA vs Europe.
Nov. 3- Craft of the Cocktail Gin: The Misunderstood Spirit
Nov. 17- Weekend Wine Sessions Wine for Thanksgiving
Dec. 1- Craft of the Cocktail Holiday Cocktails
Dec. 15- Brews & (Taste) Buds- Ales vs Lagers: Finding your style
Dec. 29- Weekend Wine Sessions A Bit of Bubbly USA vs France
Details are starting to emerge about one of the highly anticipated food festivals of the southwest as the 2018 Devour Culinary Classic is less than 7 months away.
This 2 day food event takes place on Saturday and Sunday March 3rd & 4th 2018 and moves this year to the Desert Botanical Garden on the Phoenix/Scottsdale border. Skip breakfast as this annual event opens its doors each day at 10:30 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m.
“Just like all the participants in the Devour Culinary Classic, the Garden is proud to fly the ‘locally grown’ flag,” says Desert Botanical Garden Executive Director Ken Schutz. “We look forward to hosting the event in 2018.”
Local First Arizona started Devour Culinary Classic almost 10 years ago and has become a model food event around the country for supporting locally owned restaurants, wineries, brewers and more.
“Our main objective is to support the development and promotion of the culinary and extended local food community and culture in Arizona, bringing deserved local and national attention to our state’s food scene,” said Kimber Lanning, founder of the event and Executive Director of Local First Arizona. “We believe we’ll be even better suited to showcase Arizona’s one-of-a-kind culinary culture with Desert Botanical Garden as our host.”
Devour Culinary Classic chef talent
As of the end of August, over 30 chefs from around Arizona are confirmed to strut their stuff with the list continuing to grow. A few of the names you can expect to see are…..
Bernie Kantak The Gladly & Citizen Public House, Danielle Leoni The Breadfruit & Rum Bar, Kat and Brad Moore Short Leash Hot Dog, Jeff Smedstad Elote Cafe, Tamara Stanger Helio Basin Brewing Co. (Winner of last year’s Devour Excellence Award)
Ticket packages, Week of Experiences and more.
Before the Classic goes off there are two events leading up to the festive weekend. The Devour Classic Bartending Competition shakes things up on Fri. February 25th from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. and the Seven Chefs Singh Along prepare a meal under the stars on Wed. February 28th from 5:30- 8:30 p.m. More details can be found on event links.
Tickets go on sale for members of Local First Arizona localist program, Desert Botanical Garden and Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance to all events of November 1st, 2017 and to the public on November 13th, 2017. Tickets are limited to all events and non-members should consider membership to above groups for pre-sale tickets.
3 ticket packages are available for those that want to experience much of what the event has to offer. Early entry, Cooking demonstrations, access to wine and spirits tents, meet and greet with chefs and more are available. The single day packages are The Tasting Package$105, The Connoisseur Package $165 and The VIP Package $205. See ticket link above for individual package perks.
As details continue to become available be sure to check the website for updates.
One of Arizona’s favorite breakfast and lunch spots continues to expand as Over Easy will be opening in the Biltmore Center II at 24th St. & Camelback Rd. in September.
Know for its Chicken Fried Steak and Nut Banana French Toast. The restaurant and its chef & owner Aaron May are a favorite on The Food Network and on the national culinary scene.
The 3,000 sq. ft restaurant will be the fifth Over Easy in the Phoenix area along with locations in Washington and Florida. When it opens the Biltmore location will serve scratch made classic breakfast and lunch fare like the other locations have been doing since 2008.
Over Easy at the Biltmore will be at 2398. E Camelback Rd. (NW corner) Phoenix 85016.
As the Fall 2017 food festival calendar is starting to come together save the weekend of Nov. 4th & 5th for the 3rd annual AZCentral.com Food & Wine Experience. As of now there are 30 local chefs set to participate at Salt River Fields with more to be added to the line up.
Kerry Dunne of R Entertainment says “All together with sponsors, restaurants and industry purveyors, we have created in Scottsdale an event that inspired an entire series of Food & Wine Experiences in USA Today markets from Detroit to Ventura. For years, we worked with our compatriots here to create this signature event and it’s inspired the country.”
The 2 day festival features sampling of foods from local and guest chefs along with other opportunities for seminars, a wine tasting and meet and greets. Tickets can be purchased at http://foodandwine.azcentral.com/ with subscribers receiving $15 off at this link http://www.azcentral.com/insider Here are the featured events and costs of tickets
Grand Tasting. Tickets in advance are $85 and offer unlimited sampling of chef creations; access to chef demonstrations and panels; and tastings of fine wines, craft beers and distinctive spirits. Saturday or Sunday
VIP Grand Tasting. Tickets in advance are $120 and guests enjoy all the benefits of the Grand Tasting, plus entry at noon, access to the VIP Lounge, and private tastings from wineries and distillers. Preferred parking and VIP restrooms
The Cellar. A $20 upgrade to any ticket above, the wine seminar offers special tastings and an insider’s knowledge of wines sampled; led by the winemaker or wine ambassador.
The Chef’s Package. A $180 ticket, a private meet & greet with a special guest chef of national renown. Details coming soon
Private Dining ‘Experiences.’ A schedule of separately ticketed private dining Experiences created by popular chefs and restaurateurs will be announced soon. Experiences can occur within the event footprint or at participating restaurants.
Local chefs at Salt River Fields
Many familiar names will be cooking up their delicious bites to attendees to enjoy at the Grand Tasting. Check the website for updated participating chefs.
Jacques Qualin, J&G Steakhouse at The Phoenician Resort
Bernie Kantak, The Gladly and Citizen Public House
Alex Stratta, multiple award-winning chef
Chrysa Robertson, Rancho Pinot
Gio Osso, Virtù Honest Craft and Nico’s Heirloom Kitchen
Stephen Jones, The Larder + The Delta
Jennifer Russo, The Market by Jennifer Russo
Aaron Poole, Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup
Paul Haworth, Cartel Coffee Lab
Charles Wiley, Hearth `61 at Mountain Shadows Resort
Russell LaCasce, ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho
George Frasher, Frasher’s Smokehouse
Chef Joshua James “Chef J” Amonson, Bourbon & Bones Chophouse | Bar
Matthew Hobbs, Match: Cuisine & Cocktails at FOUND:RE Phoenix
Doug Robson, Otro Café
Dustin Christofolo, Quiessence at The Farm
Tommy Plato, restaurateur, Second Story Liquor Bar
Raveen Arora, restaurateur, The Dhaba
Scott Holmes, Little Miss BBQ, in a rare appearance in the Grand Tasting
Anthony DeMuro of Different Pointe of View at Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs
Talavera at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale
Dushyant Singh, Artizen at The Camby
Paulina Martinez, El Panzón & Frida
Tonya Saidi, Mamma Toledo’s The Pie Hole
Helen Yung, Sweet Republic
Salt River Fields is at 7555 N. Pima Rd. Scottsdale 85258 (480)270-5000