On Sept. 1, restaurants across the state will reveal their menus for the fourth annual Arizona Restaurant Week, marking the start of a veritable marathon of food-centered events throughout the season.
Whether you desire to hob-knob with the Valley’s foodie elite or just want to sample some good grub you wouldn’t ordinarily have the access or the money to manage, here’s a guide to filing up your fall culinary calendar.
More than 50 Valley chefs and restaurants share tricks of the trade — and fine food — in classes, demos and cooking face-offs on four cooking stages. There’s also a Latte Art Throwdown for local baristas.
DETAILS >> 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 3. JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, 5350 E. Marriot Drive, Phoenix. $80 in advance or $95 at the door, includes unlimited food, wine, beer and spirit samples. Classes are an additional $10 per person in advance. Proceeds go to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. www.phoenixcooks.com
Arizona Restaurant Week
More than 100 eateries across the state offer a three-course dinner menu for $20-$40 per person (typically, that excludes drinks, tax and gratuity, but each restaurant is different). New to the roster this year are Northern Arizona dining options. Find a list of restaurants and menus online, and call your restaurant of choice for a reservation.
DETAILS >> Sept. 17-25. (602) 307-9134, Ext. 116, or www.arizonarestaurantweek.org
Sixth annual Dine Out With the Chefs
More than 20 well-known Valley chefs dish out delectable eats at this 6-year-old fundraiser for Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Five new restaurants have been added to the roster this year, joined by 18 returning favorites. The party includes mingling with the culinary masters, live music by the Nicole Pesce Trio, tastings of wines and tequilas, and cooking demos with chef Laura Slama.
DETAILS >> 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 2. Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 E. Second St. $55-$60 in advance or $70 at the door; proceeds benefit SCPA programs and youth education and outreach initiatives. (480) 499-8587 or www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org
TASTE. Chandler’s Culinary Festival
This third annual soiree intended to show off the flavors of Chandler offers bites from more than 30 eateries and food purveyors. New for 2011 are the air-conditioned Spirit Lounge, Craft Beer Lounge and Wine Lounge. Each will house music, cooking demos, and tastings, seminars or classes for an additional $10 per person per lounge.
DETAILS >> Noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 15. Dr. A.J. Chandler Park, 3 S. San Marcos Place. $45, includes unlimited food samples and 12 beverage sample vouchers. Partial proceeds benefit the Downtown Chandler Community Foundation. www.tastechandler.com
Arizona Taco Festival
Amateur and pro taco-makers put forth their best beef-, pork-, chicken- and fish-pinched-in-a-tortilla creations at this annual event with mariachi music, beer donkeys, tequila tastings and wrestling matches between luchadores, or Mexican wrestlers. There are also margarita and pepper-eating contests.
DETAILS >> 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 15. Scottsdale Waterfront, 7125 E. Via Soleri Drive. $10 admission, plus $2 per taco. Select proceeds benefit Anne Rita Monahan Foundation for ovarian cancer research. (480) 466-5409 or www.aztacofestival.com
Bakers and pastry chefs offer up a smorgasboard of cupcakes at this sweet event, where you’ll find a Kids Corner decorating station, a cupcake-eating contest and, new this year, a VIP reception staged an hour before the main event. Last year’s inaugural love-in sold out.
DETAILS >> 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 30. Hotel Valley Ho, 6850 E. Main St., Scottsdale. $20 for adults, $50 for VIP entry, $5 for children age 10 and younger. Ticket sales begin online near the end of September. Proceeds benefit Central Arizona Shelter Services. (480) 363-2859 or http://cupcakelovein.com
Chandler Chuck Wagon Cook-off
Named one of the best cook-offs in the country by American Cowboy magazine, this family event features teams cooking bread, beans, meat, potatoes and dessert from authentic 1880s-era chuck wagons stocked with ingredients typical of the period. Judges choose winners, but vittles are up for grabs starting 9 a.m. Nov. 12 for $10 a plate — if you can get one before they sell out. Those with smaller appetites can get samples for $2 each. There’s also live music from Pioneer Pepper and the Sunset Pioneers, a slew of old-timey demos and activities, and six campfires where you can hear stories and cowboy music and purchase marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers for DIY s’mores.
DETAILS >> 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 11 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 12. Tumbleweed Ranch at Tumbleweed Park, 2250 S. McQueen Road, Chandler. Free admission. (480) 782-2717 or www.chandleraz.gov/museum
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