Greetings Foodies! Welcome to my recap of the Check, Please! Arizona Festival. The event took place yesterday, Sunday March 22nd 2015 at CityScape in downtown Phoenix Arizona. The event is in its third year and featured 25 restaurants and beverage purveyors. Among them were Frashers, Switch Wine Bar, Durant’s and Cowboy Ciao. In addition to enjoying the food and beverages, there were also demos and panels for the guests to experience.
We started the morning with Chef Jason Peterson’s (of Switch Wine Bar) demo. While discussing the way food evokes memories, he made Drunken Shrimp and Hoe Cakes for the audience. I recently had the opportunity to meet Chef Peterson at Devoured Phoenix and was excited to see that he was also at this event. He said something that really struck a chord with me when he was asked about substituting ingredients. He said, “There’s no wrong way to make a recipe, just different ways.” This was really great to hear and is something that I will take with me when I cook.
Following the demo we walked around the event and enjoyed some of the food. It seemed that pulled pork and meatballs were a theme of the day. Fortunately, that wasn’t all there was and there were several stand outs:
- Durant’s Tenderloin with Chimichurri Sauce on a Green Chile Biscuit. Durant’s tied with Cowboy Ciao’s Pork Belly. Both were incredibly flavorful and surprisingly so given they were bite size.
- Amy’s Baking Company was a pleasant surprise. While we enjoyed their baked goods, it was on our second pass by that we noticed they were serving other food. Their Curry Chicken Salad was a cool and refreshing change pace from the hot food served by most restaurants.
- Frasher’s Green Chile Mac and Cheese was great because unlike most recipes, theirs had sweet corn which enhanced the flavor immensely.
- Taste of Louisiana was exactly as their name described. We tried the Jambalaya and Shrimp Etouffee. They were both great and it was nice to discover a good source for Cajun food in the valley.
As great as the food was, the highlight of day for me was getting to meet four James Beard Award winning chef. Chef Robert McGrath the Host of Check, Please! Arizona, Chef Chris Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco, Chef Nobuo Fukuda of Nobuo at Teeter House and Chef Christopher Gross of Christopher’s and Crush Lounge. To be in the presence of these four together was inspirational, insightful and educational. Their unique personalities made for a great panel. Chef McGrath said it best when he said, “Being awarded a James Beard Award is humbling. It makes us work harder to honor that recognition.” The chefs discussed everything from their thoughts on supporting local purveyors to fried bologna to their perfect last meal.
Overall, despite the heat, the event was a lot of fun! Getting to try food from restaurants around the valley is always a treat as was meeting a lot of great chefs. I can’t wait to see what is in store for next year! Until next time!
Enjoy What You Eat!