On Friday night, hundreds of food-loving Phoenicians headed to the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North to celebrate the kick-off of this year's Scottsdale Culinary Festival at the Cooks and Corks event.
More than a dozen local chefs participated in this year's event, serving top-quality dishes with ingredients such as freshly shaved truffles and seared scallops. To complement the food, Hensley Beverage Company provided a nice range of beers, wines, and spirits from all over Arizona and the world. We were invited to join in on the action at this year's event.
See also: 10 Best Culinary Events in Metro Phoenix
The venue alone makes Cooks and Corks a pretty impressive event. Held outdoors on the Four Seasons Garden Terrace, Cooks and Corks gives diners a chance to take in impressive views of the Valley and Pinnacle Peak before sunset; after dark, there's the whole resort property to explore, complete with cozy fireplaces and candlelit corners.
Upon arrival guests were given a plate and allowed to roam the event freely. Each restaurant offered one or two small dishes while drink vendors poured glasses of wine or offered samples of spirits.
Some of our favorite dishes of the night included chef Matt Taylor's Italian cheese, chorizo, and broccoli rab stuffed tortellini. The smoky dish came in a rich chorizo broth and was topped with a crisp piece of pork cheek. We also loved the lechon empanada with Peruvian beans from Deso's chef Roberto Madrid. The combination of crispy pork and the pastry shell made for a satisfying bite.
Scallops were a popular choice for the event, with several chefs searing scallops to order at the event. Thought the made-to-order bites took a longer to prepare, these dishes made the event feel a little more luxe. The Four Season's restaurant Proof served our favorite scallop dish: seared diver scallops with paella risotto and sofrito.
The drink offerings were nicely varied with a good selection of beers, wines, and spirits. We skipped the familiar choices like Stella Artois and Goose Island brews, in favor of trying a few Arizona wines from Grand Canyon Brewing Company and Arizona Stronghold.
Some of the most interesting drink options of the night came from out-of-state distilleries, which brought several products each for attendees to try. We enjoyed the rye whiskey and double barrel bourbon from Tennesse's Prichard's Distillery and the fruity-then-spicy Twelve Five Rye Whiskey from Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery.
Local band The Lark and Key provided the perfect soundtrack to the night, playing classic and pop songs throughout the night -- and adding a smooth, jazzy twist.
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For years Cooks and Corks was an annual event during the week-long Scottsdale Culinary Festival but for the last two years the event has been revised as a stand-alone evening held months before the rest of the festival events. The net proceeds from the event still benefit the Scottsdale League for the Arts, which also hosts the Scottsdale Culinary Festival and The Friends of James Beard Benefit Dinner.
It may not be the city's most impressive culinary event, but Cooks and Corks stands out as a grand evening that appeals to a specific crowd. The beautiful setting, limited number of guests (and participating chefs) makes this an exclusive night of fancy food and drink.