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.
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.