Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

EAT by Stacey Weber giving away a 3 free Thanksgiving meals

You can nominate a family to receive a Turkey and all the fixings (valued at $248) to feed a family of 4 until next Thursday, November 18th. You can nominate a family here or email at phoenix@eatbystacyweber.com. Pick up would be on Wednesday, November 24th between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the 4740 E. Shea Blvd Phoenix 85028.

The Phoenix Pizza Festival is this weekend.

Finally a favorite festival is here in downtown Phoenix’s Margaret T. Hance Park on Saturday and Sunday. See all the details, participants and changes for 2021 here.

2021 Slider Throwdown is this Sunday 11/14

The popular “Battle of the Burger” event returns to High Street in north Phoenix on Sunday. Stop by and vote for your favorite slider and help raise money for Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation from 12 – 4 p.m. Admission is $40 and includes sliders, lemonade from Cuties Lemonade & More food truck and dessert from Kicks Frozen Yogurt. Live entertainment and a silent auction will also be happening.

Seats still available for Miner Family Wines dinner

Assistant winemaker Michelle Safir will be in town for the dinner at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa next Thursday, November 17th. For more details see my September post about how to reserve your seat and December’s Truchard Vineyard dinner details.

Trade “Toys for Tacos” at Mesquite Fresh Street Mex

Until December 15th the fast casual concept has partnered with the Phoenix Rescue Mission to collect toys in exchange for a free taco. Drop off new & unwrapped toys, non-perishable foods and toiletries at a location near you.

The Montauk adds new dishes to its menu

The downtown Scottsdale restaurant added to its eclectic menu this week. The new dishes are as follows. Playa Salad – Oranges, red onion, pepitas and queso fresco over a bed of artisan greens with coriander vinaigrette to finish. Short Rib Bowl – Overnight braised short rib, house made BBQ sauce, roasted root vegetables, crispy baked potato wedges and scallions served with brown rice. Buddah Bowl– Roasted broccoli, cucumbers, spinach, avocado, grilled onions, edamame and pepitas, served with chipotle tahini and a soft-boiled egg over brown rice. Short Rib Huevos Rancheros (brunch only) – Eggs, braised short rib, refried black beans, red onion, queso fresco, morita-cashew salsa, sour cream, cilantro on a tortilla.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Hulu premiers “Baker’s Dozen” & a Scottsdale native is one of the winners

Scottsdale native Tess Levin was one of the recent winners on the new Hulu show “Baker’s Dozen” that premiered in early October. She wowed the judges on Episode 3 with her candy art to advance to round two where all remaining contestants made the identical signature dessert before narrowing it down to 3 people for the finals. The “culinary comedian” as Levin calls herself, won the coveted “Golden Rolling Pin” and cash by impressing the judges with her “Mermaid Under the Sea” themed macaron tower.

The 8-part Hulu series is hosted by Tamera Mowry- Housley of Sister, Sister fame and former White House pastry chef Bill Yosses. The 26 year old Levin currently lives in L.A. but grew up in Scottsdale attending Arcadia High School and makes frequent trips back to Arizona. You can see the trailer for the show here.

 

The Arizona Taco Festival is coming back for its 11th year

2020 may have knocked down the Arizona Taco Festival but it didn’t knock it out as the popular 2 day festival returns in October 2021. This will be the 11th year of the festival that is planned for October 23rd & 24th and will be returning to Salt River Fields.

Over 50 taco vendors will be on hand serving up hundreds or thousands of their homemade tacos and more starting at $3 each. In addition to tacos festival goers can get a Tequila Passport to sample 10 premium tequilas to go with their tacos and 6 chefs from local Mexican restaurants will prepare their specialties at the new Super Food Stations. Vote for your favorite tacos to win the People’s Choice Taco Competition and hang out at one of the shaded party tents with DJs providing music, vendors and bars serving margaritas, beer and more.

Tickets for the 11th Annual Arizona Taco Festival go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday May 21st at the ticketweb site. General Admission tickets are $14 in advance and $20 day of event. The Tequila Passport is an additional $25 and VIP Tickets are $100 ($120 day of) and include the Passport. The El Presidente ticket is $200 with the Passport, $220 day of. Parking at Salt River Fields is free. For more information head to their website.

 

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Press Coffee opens Gilbert location today

The local coffee roaster opens today at 225 E. Germann Rd. In addition to high quality coffee and coffee based drinks, breakfast sandwiches, burritos and avocado toast are available. $1 drip coffees are available from November 6th-8th with profits being donated to local non-profit Winged Hope. Temporary hours at this location are 6:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. on weekends until further notice.

Today is National Nachos Day, these restaurants are celebrating

Urban Margarita in Glendale is helping you save a few bucks on their Hatch Green Chile Nachos. Get 1/2 off ($7.25) when you dine-in all day.

Macayo’s Nachos Supreme is $8 today rather than regularly priced $12.99. Offer is available at all locations for dine-in, take-out or Macayo delivery.

2020 Slider Throwdown is Sunday

The popular fundraiser moves to High Street in north Phoenix this year and will have food trucks battling to see who wins “Best Slider” judged by local foodies including myself. Attendees can vote for the “People’s Choice” winner.

Food & drink for military personnel on Veteran’s Day around Phoenix

Wednesday November 11th we say “Thank you” to all active and retired members of the military. Local restaurants are offering deals on food & drink around the Phoenix area.

Pita Jungle offers happy hour platter

National Happy Hour Day is Thursday November 12th and all Pita Jungle locations are showing off their signature tapas. $25 gets a platter of hummus and chicken with pine nuts, fresh mozzarella & tomato, baked pita chips, kafta mini pockets, feta, pickles, and cucumbers. A vegetarian platter is available too.

 

 

Alice Cooper’s non-profit & Ailoi Burgers team up for teen burger contest

Culinary inspired teens aged 12-20 have until October 16th to submit their burger and or shake recipe to win gift cards and bragging rights. Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Centers will benefit from the winning recipes and partners with Aioli Gourmet Burgers as host and chef Tommy D’Ambrosio as mentor.

“I can’t wait to see what fresh new ideas the kids come up with and I’m very excited to partner with Alice Cooper’s Teen Centers. I was once a culinary student too, so I know how fun it can be to have opportunities like this. Plus, we’re thrilled to support a great organization that offers free arts programs for teens,” said Tommy D’Ambrosio, Chef, Aioli Gourmet Burgers.

3 winners will be announced on October 19th based on emailed recipes to info@aioliburger.com. Online public voting takes place October 20-28th with winners announced October 29th during a live concert at Ailoi’s 32nd St & Shea location. The winning burger and shake will be featured on the menu at all 3 Aioli locations in November with 10% of sales donated to Alice Cooper’s Rock Solid Teen Centers.

“Experiences like this are so valuable and vital for teenagers in the community” said Randy Spencer, Partnerships and Development, Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Centers. “We love providing unique opportunities like this for the youth we serve with great brands like Aioli Gourmet Burgers. Alice and Sheryl Cooper, our staff and board members are excited to try the burger and shake that the winning teens create!”

First place winners win a $200 gift card, cook with Tommy and menu feature. Second and third place winners will win a $100 and $50 gift card. For more information visit their website.

Food trucks battle for “Best Slider” at Slider Throwdown

As culinary events are slow to return to the calendar the 2020 Slider Throwdown is back with a new location. Circle Sunday November 8th on your calendar for the popular burger battle between local food trucks. This year’s event is moving from Kierland Commons to north Phoenix’s High Street and proceeds will again go to Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation.

Eight food trucks battle from 12- 3 p.m. for “Best Slider” chosen by judges and “People’s Choice” awards. Attendees will sample sliders for all tastes including beef, chicken, veggie and more. Food trucks cooking up sliders include Bayou Bistro, Food Diva, Aioli Gourmet Burgers and more.

“The Slider Throwdown is one of our favorite annual events because it brings the community together through food, fun, and entertainment,” said Kris Jacober, executive director of the AFFCF. “Without the support of our community through fundraisers like this, we could not continue to fulfill our vision of helping to give foster youth in Arizona the type of childhood that everyone deserves — so we are deeply grateful for every attendee.”

The burger battle will follow CDC guidelines including social distancing, limited ticket sales, hand sanitizer stations and attendees wearing masks. “We are excited to bring this event to High Street in a safe, secure and delicious environment on High Street,” said Jacober.

Tickets are $35 dollars per person and include samples of all sliders and three non-alcoholic beverages. The Josh West Trio will provide live music and attendees can bid for exciting prize packages at a silent auction. Tickets can be purchased at https://www.affcf.org/events-2/

Chef Derek Upton goes from drumming to cooking with cannabis

When I caught up with chef Derek Upton for lunch recently I was surprised our paths hadn’t crossed before with our mutual interest in food, cannabis and the local restaurant community. Spending over an hour speaking with him about everything from food, cannabis & CBD, music and cell phones I realized we will be hearing more from him in the future.

Growing up in Fresno, Derek took to drumming at an early age at church. He didn’t think it would take him around the world playing for national acts, into the recording studio or playing his last gig at the American Music Awards. When life on the road began to take its toll he went to pursue a second act as a chef. Growing up in an Italian Portuguese family helping to cook meals at home he knew what he wanted to be back in the kitchen.

He wound up in Phoenix after touring with Scoti Slate and returned after attending The Institute of Technology in Clovis in 2012 and 2013 where he studied culinary arts and the business side of the restaurant industry. Derek made a name for himself in Phoenix working at Evo, Cafe Monarch, Original Gravity, The Windsor, Beckett’s Table and most recently The Breadfruit. He’s been the private chef to celebrities David Spade, Henry Rollins, Michael Rapaport and Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

chef Derek Upton
Lamb dish from “Cooked with Cannbis”

Derek Upton cooks with cannabis

Educating himself on the benefits of cannabis and CBD became personal. It’s changed his life and ignited his passion for it as he once weighed over 500 lbs. He’s dropped over 150 lbs. since his journey started and wants to lose 150 more. As cannabis becomes legalized around the country Derek found that cooking with cannabis is what he wanted to do.  Cannabis is more than the psychoactive THC that many associate with the plant and he’s looking to redefine the stereotype. Educating others of its health benefits in cooking and telling his story is how he’s going about it.

Using Instagram and other social media platforms, Derek parlayed his use of cannabis in cooking and being hired for private cannabis dinner parties to opportunities on TV. His recent appearance on Netflix’s “Cooked with Cannabis” was the start of another chapter in his life. Unlike most chefs who aspire of owning their own restaurant Derek wants to continue to cooking for others in a private setting and producing cooking shows and videos. Although cooking with cannabis is his specialty he does cook without it as well. Our lunch fell between conference calls where he’s discussing media and ambassador opportunities for the next phase of his career.

He does a lot behind the scenes connecting cannabis related businesses to one another to help move the cause forward. He’s currently filming his own TV show “Stay Hungry” and is on Instagram and Facebook at Chef Derek Upton.

 

Surprise to host inaugural Rib Fest Showdown in April

Update: Postponed, no new date set.

As culinary events and food festivals get postponed or cancelled due to the coronavirus a new festival is moving forward as planned. The first ever Rib Fest Showdown debuts April 25th & 26th 2020 in Surprise at Mark Coronado Park. The Throwdown pits Kansas City vs. Texas pitmasters to see who makes the best smokes meats. With the aroma of burning wood in the air festival goers will taste ribs and other smoked meats.

The city of Surprise was chosen as co-host of the event as it’s the Spring Training home of both Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals & Texas Rangers.

“We are thrilled to partner with the City of Surprise to launch this exciting event,” said Landon Evans owner of HDE Agency. “Supporting the economic growth and working together to build a cornerstone event for the city that will come to be recognized as an annual program is both rewarding and awesome.”

LDE Agency is also producing the KNIX BBQ & Beer Festival on March 28th in Chandler and is taking every per-caution to make sure both festivals are safe, clean and happen as planned.

The family friendly festival also features a ‘Battle of the Bands” with local and national performers, a kid’s zone, food eating contests and more.

The Rib Fest Showdown goes from 12 – 10 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are on sale with 2 for $16, 4 for $30 or 6 for $40. Walk -up tickets the day of will be $10  each. VIP tickets and a Stay & Play overnight packages are available. A portion of the proceeds from the Rib Fest Throwdown will be donated to Mighty Change of Heart, a local non-profit that provides support for foster children.

Epicuriad 2020 has 15 chefs cooking for children’s brain tumor research

Billed as where “Top Chefs Vie for Food-Pairing Glory”, Epicuriad 2020 will have more than 15 local chefs competing to win the coveted Epicurean chefs jacket while raising money for the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation. Harley Davidson of Scottsdale will host the 8th annual event on Saturday May 2nd at 6 p.m.

Each chef will be tasked with creating a dish that will pair well with a specific beer and wine. Attendees will vote for ” Best Plate” and “Best Pairing” crowning a winner. Money raised will benefit research and programs for brain tumor and patients put on by the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation.

Tickets for Epicuriad 2020 are limited and can be purchased at their website. General Admission tickets are $85 and VIP is $100. Harley Davidson of Scottsdale is at 15656 N. Hayden Rd. Scottsdale 85260.

 

Fashion A’ Fare celebrate’s food, fashion and floral creativity

Scottsdale Fashion Square will be showing off all things edible, fashionable and floral over their 4-day Fashion A’ Fare weekend. Thursday March 5 – Sunday the 8th will see events throughout the mall with several in the new luxury wing. Foodies will want to attend on Saturday and Sunday for chef demos, a cooking competition, Sunday brunch and a farmer’s market.

On Saturday, well renowned chefs from the mall’s new restaurants Toco Madera, Nobu, Ocean 44 and others will demonstrate edible art in the new luxury wing. Guests can watch students from the Arizona Culinary Institute compete in a Food Network styled cooking competition and awards ceremony.

Sunday brings a pop-up farmer’s market to the new Grand North Entrance. Whether you’re looking for a yoga demonstration, to shop or Sunday brunch this will be the place to be. Brunch will feature dishes with de-constructed produce along with prie-fixe brunch and lunch menus at the new restaurants. Champagne bars, DJ spin- art and flower crown making are put of the celebration.

Scottsdale Fashion Square is at 7014 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85251. The luxury wing is on the north side off Goldwater Blvd. For more information and to stay up to date about Fashion A’ Fare head to their website.

 

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