Epicure-all

If you have a full wallet and an empty stomach, you can empty the former and stuff the latter silly at this year's Scottsdale Culinary Festival, which runs through Sunday, April 16, at various venues around Scottsdale. You've already missed the Culinary Student Competition Awards Dinner on Wednesday, April 12, and as of this writing the Culinary Hall of Fame Dinner, slated for 7 p.m. Thursday, April 13, at Marquesa at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort, 7575 East Princess Drive in Scottsdale, is sold out, as is "Le Tour Culinaire," a black-tie "trolley tour of the Valley's finest dining establishments," scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 15, starting at The Ranch on Camelback Mountain, 5700 East McDonald in Paradise Valley.

At this writing, however, everything else is still available. Here are some highlights:

Mayors' Cup Culinary Challenge: The favorite chefs of mayors from around the state put out a spread at 7 p.m. Friday, April 14, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Cocktail attire; $50 a person.

Cooks & Corks: Celebrity chefs demonstrate their techniques at this wine-tasting event, scheduled from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 15; and the same hours Sunday, April 16, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. The cost is $25 per person in advance, $30 the day of the event.

Great Arizona Picnic: Admission is free, and a tasting coupon is just a buck -- yeah, like anybody would go and not taste -- at this massive tasting of goodies from some of the Valley's top restaurants, slated from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 15; and from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, April 16, at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, Civic Center Boulevard between Second Street and Indian School. Live musical entertainment is scheduled all day both days at this family event.

Southwest Festival of Beers: More than 200 specialty brews are featured at this big-time beer garden, from 1 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 15; and from 1 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 16, at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, Civic Center Boulevard between Second Street and Indian School. Also on the schedule are "cooking with beer" demonstrations and live music. The cost is $5, and includes a souvenir mug. Designate a driver, that's all I ask.

Wine Country Brunch: The products of eight wineries are showcased with appropriate food from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, April 16, at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort, 7575 East Princess Drive in Scottsdale. The cost for this resort-attire event is $45; this is usually a sellout.

Challenge to the Chefs: Admission is free to this event, part of the Great Arizona Picnic, in which four Valley chefs are presented with an identical basket of ingredients and try to come up with the best impromptu dish. It's scheduled for 5 p.m. Sunday, April 16, at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, Civic Center Boulevard between Second Street and Indian School.

Best of the Fest: In the weekend's finale, eight of the Valley's top chefs create a five-course dinner for two tables of 10, starting at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 16, at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort, 7500 East Doubletree Ranch Road in Scottsdale. The cost is $125 per guest.

Myself, I like that new Chicken Caesar sandwich at Burger King.

The Scottsdale Culinary Festival continues daily through Sunday, April 16. Call 480-945-7193 or go to www.scottsdaleleague-arts.org for ticket information and other details.

 
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