Excitement in Arizona’s restaurant industry was high this week despite current events as The James Beard Foundation announced this week the finalists for the 2020 James Beard Awards. When semifinalists were announced earlier in the year and before the coronavirus epidemic Arizona had 10 in the running to be finalists. When the winners are announced on September 25th, 4 nominees will be representing Arizona.
After FnB’s Charleen Badman won the 2019 Best Chef: Southwest it should come as no surprise to many that 3 others have the chance to bring home the award this year.
The 2020 nominees are….
Silvana Salcido Esparza of Barrio Cafe (Phoenix) for Best Chef: Southwest.
Chrysa Robertson of Rancho Pinot Grille (Scottsdale) for Best Chef: Southwest.
Jeff Smedstad of Elote Cafe (Sedona) for Best Chef: Southwest.
Pizzeria Bianco (Phoenix) for Outstanding Restaurant.
Good luck to all.
Winners will be announced via the foundations Twitter feed.
Arizona’s first luxury resort, Castle Hot Springs has re-opened for its first full season. Originally opened in 1896, the 210 acre property will be opened from October til late June offering guests the opportunity to detach from the digital world while rejuvenating and healing in the resorts 120 degrees thermal hot springs. Hiking, horseback riding, foraging and star gazing are a few of the many activities guests can enjoy at the iconic resort and its surrounding desert and mountains.
Harvest, Castle Hot Springs signature restaurant
Castle Hot Springs is home to Harvest, the signature restaurant and farm offering crop driven cuisine. Executive chef Christopher Brugman’s menu rotates daily based on what’s available at the resorts one acre farm. The farm and greenhouse are overseen by resident agronomist Ian Berger. He oversees over 150 fruits and vegetables native to the desert along with the properties groves that are home to 36 types of citrus trees. Included in the farm are over 35 varieties of heirloom tomatoes.
Working together Brugman and Berger choose ripe fruit and vegetables for each days menu. What they don’t grow they get from local vendors to fill in the gaps. Harvest also adheres to zero waste and sustainable guidelines. Guests can participate in daily foraging and learn about “flavor farming” that covers the sweet and savory tastes through a foods color. Dishes such as Coconut Carrot Bisque and Tandoori Octopus Grilled over Juniper Wood have been on the menu. The culinary team also has an in-house pickling program and creates concoctions such as Brugman’s Onion Ash.
Food & Beverage Manager and Sommelier Thomas Burris has created a beverage program to complement Brugman’s cuisine. Signature cocktails such as the Trade Secret and Lady & The Tramp also use ingredients sourced from the property. Trade Secret is made with rosemary infused vodka, Elderflower and pink grapefruit. The savory Lady & The Tramp combine Pecorino Romano infused vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup and fresh basil leaves. Castle Springs Lithium Lager is made exclusively for Harvest and uses natural elements of the resorts hot springs.
The resort is at 5050 E. Castle Hot Springs Rd. Castle Hot Springs AZ. 85342. For more information and to make a reservation head to their website.
As I type Ocean 44 Chief Executive Chef Marc Lupino is on his way back to Scottsdale after a quick fishing trip to Alaska. Lupino left Wednesday for Cordova to fish the Copper River for King Salmon before the fishing season opens for commercial fishing.
This unique opportunity has Lupino and a small group of people fishing Thursday into Friday before returning to Scottsdale. Once he returns he will prepare the fish for guests Friday evening. It doesn’t get much fresher than that, especially for a restaurant so far from the Copper River.
Once in the kitchen the fish will be braised in spring water, butter and lemon. Can’t make it in tonight, the fish will be on the menu in coming weeks as more fish are caught.
Celebrating the Copper River King Salmon
This annual event as the fishing season opens has restaurants anticipating the arrival of this rich and flavorful fish. Restaurants in Seattle celebrate it’s arrival as Alaska Airlines delivers thousands of pounds of the fish Friday morning.
The airline’s “Salmon Thirty Salmon” even displays a 129 foot image of the wild caught salmon.
2019 is expected to be better than 2018 for the salmon harvest.
Ocean 44 is at 4748 N. Goldwater Blvd. Scottsdale 85251.
It’s hard to believe we’re closer to the end of our busy season here in Phoenix than the beginning. In the next month spring training fans and winter visitors will head home to wait out the hot Arizona spring and summer. Restaurants will cut back their hours of operation and food festivals will go on hiatus for a few months. Don’t worry foodies we still have 10 days in May of Arizona Restaurant Week to look forward to. Save the date of Friday May 17th – Sunday May 26th and make your reservations soon.
Arizona Restaurant Week is when many local restaurants entice new and returning customers with unique 3 course prix-fixe tasting menus for $33 or $44. It’s a great reason to visit a new restaurant or favorite one.
“Arizona Restaurant Week has become one of the most popular dining events in the state,” says Arizona Restaurant Association president and CEO, Steve Chucri. “We are proud to have a hand in sharing our state’s culinary chops with residents and visitors alike, and give our local restaurants a platform to showcase their amazing talents through a fun and creative outlet.”
Many Phoenix restaurants participate as well as restaurants from around the state including Tucson and Flagstaff. Restaurants are being added daily to the list as are their menus being submitted. Here is a short list of a restaurants participating.
Mother Bunch Brewing Co.
The Keg Steakhouse + Bar
The Melting Pot
Four Peaks Brewing Company
Thirsty Lion Gastropub
The Canal Club
Buck & Rider
If you’re a long-range planner save the date of September 20th – 29th 2019 as Fall Arizona Restaurant Week has been announced.
Arizona restaurants don’t lack for diversity with many ethnic and specialty foods and restaurants available. With fine dining restaurants dwindling Casa Terra will bring vegan fine dining to the forefront when it opens in January 2019. Well known vegan chef and author Jason Wyrick opens Arizona’s first vegan fine dining restaurant in downtown Glendale.
Wyrick’s menu will be plant-based regionally focused Mexican and Mediterranean fare with a fusion twist. His food preparation will include classic and modern cooking techniques offering flavorful meals appealing to all.
According to Wyrick, “I’ve done a lot in my career as a chef, and the one thing that truly inspires me is exploring vegan cuisine and sharing it with people. For the past decade, I’ve had countless requests to open a restaurant. I’ve realized for a while that despite being one of the largest cities in the country with a burgeoning food scene, Phoenix doesn’t have a plant forward fine dining restaurant, and we need one. Casa Terra had to be the next step in my culinary journey.”
The menu at Casa Terra
Wyrick will serve only dinner with his seasonal menu of small plates, wood fired pizzas and sharable entrees. Because of the wide variety of choices Casa Terra offers Wyrick encourages exploring a variety of dishes. The exhibition kitchen will offer guests a glimpse of the food preparation. A few of the dishes include….
· Charred Padrón Peppers: Calabrian chile caramel, candied ginger, sesame seeds, and Aleppo chiles. · Jicama Crudo: escabeche, avocado puree, orange segments, garlic chips, lemon zest, sea salt, and basil-chile oil. · Tapas Tacos: handmade tortillas, pibil mushrooms, shredded smoked seitan, and almond and chile de arbol salsa.
Thin crust wood fired pizza
· Margherita: marinara, mozzarella, local olive oil, local basil and cracked pepper. · Salted Agave and Local Apple: fleur de sel, Aleppo chile, salted ricotta, pomegranate seeds, and herbs. · Carnitas with Mojo Pepita Sauce: almond queso fresco ricotta, tequila shallots, and chile threads.
· Smoked Mushroom Cazuela: trumpet and oyster mushrooms in a cazuela, arroz, split peas, apples, garlic chips, cippolini pico and mole amarillo. · Saffron Chorizo Risotto: Nicoise olives, stewed peppers, asparagus, gold leaf, yerba buena. · Housemade Gnocchi: sweet potato, Merguez sausage, and preserved lemon pesto.
· Coconut Flan with Mezcal-Apricot Preserves: citrus zest, mole negro and candied pine nuts. · House Churros: piloncillo cajeta, spicy pecans, and bourbon-vanilla ice cream. · Mexican Chocolate Torte: espresso ganache, gold leaf, spiked cream and raspberry coulis.
Fun and creative cocktails will be offered as will a thoughtfully prepared wine list for pairing with your meal.
Casa Terra will be open Sun. – Thurs. from 4-9 p.m. and Fri. & Sat. from 4-11 p.m. and will be at 6835 N. 58th Dr. Glendale 85301. (623)680-7468. For more visit their website.
As the weekend is here and plans are being made for baseball games, food festivals and more I’m still reminiscing about last weekends Devour Culinary Classic . Moving to the Desert Botanical Garden for the first time it looked to me that all was good on Sunday when I got a chance to go.The great weather, spacious & pretty DBG, great food and people made for a winning combination. There was also a little competitive spirit on both days as 8 judge’s walked through all 10 tasting zones tasting food from many if not all the restaurants participating.
The judges picked these dishes as their winners on Saturday.
Excellence in Presentation
Arancini no.1 – Pan Fried rice balls with mozzarella and green peas
Arancini no. 2- Pam fried rice balls with mozzarella and lamb
Hopefully those that are reading this bought their tickets for next weekends AZCentral.com Food & Wine Experience since I posted the announcement back in July. If not, now is the time as my readers can save $10 off tickets for the 3rd annual AZCentral. com Food & Wine Experience presented by Cadillac using the promo code at the bottom of this post.
Since the announcement Martha Stewart confirmed she will be in attendance at the popular event.
Schedule of food and wine events.
First a quick review of schedule events of the 2-day food festival on November 4th & 5th at Salt River Fields.
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.
During the Grand Tasting over 60 local restaurants will be sharing tastes of their cuisine that have put them on the culinary map. Here are a few of the restaurants and chefs that will be serving up their special dishes.
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
$10 off tickets
To get your $10 off your tickets click here and enter the promo code “Insta10“.
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.