2020 Arizona Food & Farm Forum hopes to go off as scheduled

With current events planning a festival or other culinary events is hard not knowing how the coronavirus will affect future events. I’m hoping the 2020 Arizona Food & Farm Forum goes off as planned on April 28th & 29th 2020. The two day conference of farmers, local food advocates and food entrepreneurs will be held at the Corona Ranch & Rodeo Grounds in Laveen.

Organized by Local First Arizona the forum helps build and strengthen relationships aimed at collaborations between the Arizona food and farm industry. Arizona’s farming future will be discussed among the more than 200 food entrepreneurs and advocates.

“Phoenix is committed to achieving a healthy, sustainable, equitable, and thriving food system and has recently completed a 2025 Food Action Plan that includes various strategies and actions that address food insecurity, urban agriculture, land use, job creation, and the contribution of the entire food system to our local economy,” said city of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego.

She added, “We are excited to host the Arizona Food & Farm Forum in South Phoenix to showcase the rich agricultural history of the area, its assets, and value to the development of a resilient food system for future generations.”

Arizona Food & Farm Forum line-up

The 2020 Arizona Food & Farm Forum will have farm tours, workshops and networking opportunities for all to participate in. Keynote speakers include Nephi Craig, Founder of the Native American Culinary Association, Lilian Hill, Executive Director of the Hopi Tutskwa Permaculture Institute and Sara Dolan, Owner of Blue Sky Organic Farms.

“From strategizing local opportunities for farmland conservation to exploring food as medicine, the 2020 agenda is focused on ensuring Arizona can thrive as a delicious and nutritious place to live,” said Kate Radosevic, Local First Arizona Food & Farm Initiatives Manager.

This year’s theme is “Celebrating Heritage and Planning for the Future” with sub-themes….. Planning for the Future is centered around policy and systemic changes, including strategy sessions on Agriculture Workforce Development, Urban Farmland Conservation, and Funding Community Food Systems.

Indigenous Foodways will provide a space for tribal members and allies to explore Decolonization Through Food, learn from the American Indian Farmers’ Panel, and explore Food as Medicine.

Growing a Food Business will offer technical assistance in Building Your Brand; Protecting Yourself & Your Workers in a Hotter, Drier Climate; and Strategies for Diversifying Farm Revenue Streams.

Tickets for the 2020 Arizona Food & Farm Forum are $99 for 2 days & $59 for 1 day. Students, ranchers and young farmers are $40 for 2 days and $20 for 1 day. Local First Arizona members will save 10% when you use the promo code “LOCALFIRST”. For more information and to purchase tickets head to the website.

 

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.

 

The largest BBQ event west of Texas moves to Tumbleweed Park

Update: Postponed, no new date set!

When the 11th annual KNIX BBQ & Beer Festival opens the gates at 12 noon on Saturday March 28th it will be at new location. The BBQ event has moved to the larger Tumbleweed Park in Chandler with 50,000 people expected to attend.

The festival is attracting pit-masters from around Arizona and the country for what’s been awarded “outstanding event of the year”. Over 12 cocktails and beers will be showcased to wash down your spicy, sweet & tangy smoked meats and more. Local BBQ joints include Bobby Q’s, Can’t Stop Smokin’ BBQ, Farm Boy Foods and Tom’s BBQ.BBQ event

Lee Brice and Craig Morgan will co-headline the event presented by iHeart Media and 102.5 KNIX. Country music fans will enjoy non-stop music from multiple stages throughout the 10 hour event. Country superstars Locash and Caylee Hammack will perform along with local talent Jim Bachman & the Day Drinkers, Blaine Long, Drew Cooper and Jacob Morris. Festival goers can enjoy the “For the Love of BBQ” Lounge, VIP tent, Kid Kick Back Zone or other areas.

“This is an incredible musical line-up,” said Landon Evans, owner of HDE Agency. “We are thrilled to partner with iHeart and KNIX to be able to bring this star-studded festival to Chandler for one of our largest events of the year.”

Tickets are on sale now and range in price from $15 for General Admission up to $150 for VIP. To purchase tickets or get more information for the largest BBQ event west of Texas head to their website. Tumbleweed Park is 745 E. Germann Rd. in Chandler.

New restaurants join the line-up for Arizona Restaurant Week

If you score a reservation for the 13th year of Arizona Restaurant Week you’ll be lucky you did as its one of the most popular culinary events on the Arizona food scene. Spring 2020 ARW starts Friday May 15th until Sunday May 24th where foodies can try new dishes at favorite restaurants or visit a new restaurant. Over 40 restaurants have signed to date with 7 restaurants making their debut on the list.

Twice a year (Save the date Sept. 18th- 27th 2020) the Arizona Restaurant Association hosts ARW to showcase chefs and culinary accomplishments of restaurants big or small. Each restaurant prepares a 3 or 4 course menu exclusively for the week for only $33 or $44. Several restaurants include wine or cocktail pairings for an up charge.

Returning and new restaurants

New to this year’s line- up include….Josephine, Sel, Meritage Urban Tavern, The Dressing Room, House Brasserie & Tuck Shop Kitchen and Bar. They join those returning ….Los Sombreros, Alexi’s Grill, Arrowhead Grill, Salty Sow, Urban Margarita & ZuZu Restaurant to name few.

“We are so proud that Arizona Restaurant Week continues to be such as a popular and well-attended event that our locals and out of town visitors look forward to each Spring and Fall,” says Arizona Restaurant Association president and CEO Steve Chucri. “ It is our privilege to have a hand in bringing Arizona’s culinary excellence to the forefront for 10 delicious days and to give our local restaurants a platform to present some unique and creative dishes that aren’t always offered on their daily menus. We feel this gives chefs a chance to really showcase their creativity in new ways.”

To see the full list of restaurants visit the Arizona Restaurant Week website. The list is being updated daily and menus will be uploaded once finalized.

 

 

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.

 

Billy Ray Cyrus and award winning chefs headline Sunset Sessions

Update: Sunset Sessions concerts & culinary festival cancelled due to flooding. Car auction proceeding as planned.

A new culinary experience comes to town along with Billy Ray Cyrus when the Mecum Collector Car Auction parks at State Farm Stadium. The Sunset Sessions are during the evening of Friday & Saturday, March 13th and 14th and will feature Phoenix chef Anthony Serrano enlisting celebrity chefs to prepare delicious dishes for the 2 two night event.

The theme for Friday is “The Melody of Sonoran Flavors” that will feature farm to table dishes native to Arizona. Saturday you’ll be “Rock ‘n’ Tacos” feasting on unique tacos and sliders made with American Wagyu beef from Hassell Cattle. Joining chef Serrano will be Derek Upton who has worked with Chef Justin Beckett and cooked for celebrity clients. David Duarte has cooked in Italy and professional BBQ’r Josh Dae will be cooking. Chefs Suzanne Clark and Pete Sivano, editor and publisher of Girls Can Grill chef Christie Vanover and Kita Roberts a.k.a. Girl Carnivore round out the culinary team.

Billy Ray Cyrus
Chef Anthony Serrano

“Partnering with the best collector car auction company in the world and creating this exclusive culinary and music event is a can’t-miss opportunity for the Phoenix area community,” said Jim Freudenberg, Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at the Innovative Group, which is partnering with Mecum Auctions to produce this new event. “We are bringing the world’s top culinary event to the Valley of the Sun and providing the finest unlimited menu of food, libations and music.”

Billy Ray Cyrus and how to get tickets

Billboard Award winning band Lifehouse will take the stage Friday night and country music star Billy Ray Cyrus on Saturday. Gates open at 6 p.m. with live music starting at 6:15 and the headliners on stage at 7:30.

Tickets are $150-$350 and include entrance to the auction and unlimited food and drinks. VIP experience with private suites and personal chef interactions are available. State Farm Stadium is at 1 Cardinals Dr. Glendale 85305.

 

A drier Sunday at Devour Culinary Classic to end Devour Week 2020

Sunday brought out a mix of sun and clouds but no rain for the final event of Devour Week 2020. The second day of Devour Culinary Classic had a different line up of restaurants and resorts showing off their culinary expertise. Live art, DJs, a Mardi Gras Drum March and the natural beauty of the Desert Botanical Garden made sure the Devour Culinary Classic continues to be one of the best culinary festival in Arizona and throughout the southwest.

Enjoy the images and be sure to see more on my social media channels Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  A few of Saturday’s many highlights can be found here.

Bao down at the upcoming Arizona Bao & Dumpling Festival

Update: Festival postponed, no make up date set yet.

Asian street food continues to gain popularity around the valley with the announcement of the Arizona Bao & Dumpling Festival on March 21st 2020. From 12:30 – 5 p.m. at Dr. A.J. Chandler Park festival goers can taste the popular filled bao and dumplings along with other Asian foods, Boba and desserts until their hearts desire. You’ll be able to shop at marketplace, visit with local artists and play games in between tastes and sips.

Bao
Happy Buns Coconut Bao

Tickets are now on sale for this family friendly event with General Admission tickets only $8 plus tax & fees. There are a limited amount of Early Admission tickets at 11:30 a.m. are $13 ++. Children aged 7 – 12 are $4 and under 6 are free with a paid adult. Admission is separate from food and drink purchases.

Dr. A.J. Chandler Park is in historic downtown Chandler at 3 S. Arizona Ave. 85225.

Verde Valley Wine Festival is back for its 5th year Mother’s Day weekend

There’s no better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than with a glass of wine or two with dear old mom. You can purchase tickets for you and your mom for the 5th annual Verde Valley Wine Festival, Saturday May 9th 2020. Four Eight Wineworks presents the festival that will host 20 Arizona wineries along with local breweries, distilleries, food trucks and restaurants. The festival takes place at Clarkdale Town Park from 12 – 5 p.m. Each year the festival donates part of the proceeds to a local non-profit, this year’s festival benefits The Arizona Vignerons Alliance and the Arizona Winegrowers Association. Participating wineries, food trucks and other vendors is will be announced soon.

“Wine’s economic impact on our state demands more resources to defend, protect and grow this incredibly delicate, yet robust industry in Arizona,” said David Baird, festival director and co-owner of oDDity Wine Collective. “Guests fly in from all over the world to attend this festival. For many people, the first time they understand the depth of Arizona wine is at our festival. We’re honored to be a conduit for that magic.”

General Admission tickets for the Verde Valley Wine Festival are available on-line for $35 in advance and $45 at the festival. VIP tickets are $125 and get you early entry at 11 a.m., access to the VIP Lounge, additional tastings and a swag bag. Platinum VIP tickets are $199 and include dinner and live auction on Friday May 8th. Festival goers are encouraged to spend the night and accommodations for glamping are available on the website.

Clarkdale Town Park is at 1001 Main St. Clarkdale.