On Thursday, January 23, 150 guests, five chefs, and their kitchen teams gathered at Phoenix Art Museum for the Ripe Awards, hosted by the museum's Men's Art Council.
Hungry guests arrived early. Everything served for tasting was worth trying, but standouts of the evening included "Solomon a Gundy and Fried Breadfruit" from The Breadfruit's Danielle Leoni, "Braised Veal Breast" from Jesse Hansen at Proof, and "Octopus Salad" from Gio Osso of Virtù.
A nice touch: Each chef brought most of his or her top kitchen teams to keep things moving along.This year's Ripe event was about 10 percent awards show, 10 percent celebration, and 80 percent tasting event.
Stations were easy to navigate, and in addition to menu offerings from the five winners, there were adult beverage tastings available from Arizona Distilling Company, Arizona Stronghold, Dos Cabezas, and Aridus. All were up to snuff, but for $70 a head (the event's media team at AWE Collective graciously extended media passes), we would have preferred perhaps a full glass of something included in the ticket price.
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The hosts encouraged the chefs to chat up the guests, but they were busy plating (no mass pre-plating here) and the room was filled with music from the band, which made it hard to carry on a conversation for too long. But no one went home hungry.
The nitty gritty on the awards: Museum representatives compiled a group of 20 nominees. The nominees were then narrowed down to five winners by Arizona Republic writers Karen Fernau and Jennifer McClellan and two representatives from the Phoenix Art Museum and Men's Arts Council. The event benefited the Men's Arts Council of Phoenix Art Museum; the council is a client of AWE Collective (formerly SALT, which also represents or has previously represented Virtù, The Breadfruit, and Beckett's Table), who helped plan and promote the event on behalf of the museum.