Second Helpings

News You Can Use: Here comes the holiday season. How can you make yours a little more memorable?

• The American Heart Association doesn't want you eating your heart out. So it's presenting a series of classes/dinners, presided over by some big-name Valley chefs. All the recipes adhere to the association's guideline dictating that 30 percent or fewer of the calories come from fat.

The schedule: December 7 -- Mark Tarbell (Tarbell's) and Chris Bianco (Pizzeria Bianco); January 11 -- Donna Nordin (Cafe Terra Cotta); February 1 -- Norman Fierros (Norman's Arizona); March 14 -- Charles Wiley (The Boulders); April 11 -- James Boyce (Mary Elaine's); May 9 -- Tony Hamati (Bravo Bistro); June 6 -- Razz Kamnitzer (Razz's).

The sessions are held at the Halle Heart Center, 2929 South 48th Street in Tempe, starting at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $55, with a $5 discount if you buy two or more. For more info or reservations, call 602-414-5359.

• Looking for a place to hold your Christmas party? The proprietor of the wonderful Coup Des Tartes has bought the car audio store adjacent to the restaurant and turned it into a "private event facility" called Rendez-Vous. It can accommodate from 15 to 40 people, and will offer different menus from the Coup Des Tartes files. A big plus: Like the restaurant, it's BYOB, so you can save a bundle on alcohol. For more info, call 602-212-1363.

• Got an extra $135 in your pocket? On November 9, you can dispose of it at T. Cook's, in the stylish Royal Palms Hotel. Several chefs are putting together a Friends of James Beard Benefit dinner. Among them: T. Cook's own Michael Hoobler, Mark Tarbell and Alessandro Stratta (formerly of Mary Elaine's, now heading Renoir at the Mirage in Las Vegas). The Beard Society's dinners are usually over-the-top gastronomic fests, and I expect this one to be no different. The $135 tag ($125 for members) includes tax and tip. For reservations call 602-8080766.

• Want an excuse to tour rich people's fancy homes and eat high-end fare at the same time? Book a spot in the 11th annual Tour de Noel, which runs four tours December 3 through December 5.

Presented by the American Society of Interior Designers, each tour makes stops at several homes, all decked out for the holidays by an ASID designer.

The December 3 tour features hors d'oeuvres and wine, presented by Norman Fierros, Vincent Guerithault and Patrick Poblete (Lon's at the Hermosa). The December 4 lunch tour is catered by Donna Nordin and Charles Kassels (Barmouche). That same day, dinner is compliments of Reed Groban (Scottsdale Princess) and Michael Hoobler. Brunch on December 5 is dished out by Vincent Guerithault and Skip Hause (Fabulous Food). For prices, info and reservations, call 480-951-2950.

Suggestions? Write me at or New Times, P.O. Box 2510, Phoenix, AZ 85002.


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