This month, the James Beard Foundation Women of Arizona, a movement involving 15 female chefs (so far), will launch its first initiative in the form of a series of takeout tasting menus across metro Phoenix.
Each menu offers a starter, main course, and dessert from three local chefs, packaging different local restaurant offerings into one meal. The three-course dinner serves two people for $55. The series will run for three weekends — January 15 and 16, 22 and 23, and 29 and 30.
Participating restaurants and their respective chefs (and owners) include FnB and Charleen Badman, Songbird Coffee House and Erin Westgate, Maya's Cajun Kitchen and Maya Bartlett, 24 Carrots and Sahsa Raj, and 11 more.
As an example, group No. 5’s menu lists an appetizer involving crispy salted duck from The Cellar (Shannon L. Rush), followed by eight-hour pork, beef, and oxtail ragout-filled cannelloni from Nonna Urban Eatery (Valentina Huerta), and a buttered rum cake from The Breadfruit & Rum Bar (Danielle Leoni).
Participants may choose one of the five offered menus, placing their order by 10 p.m. the Wednesday prior for pickup or delivery the following Friday or Saturday night. Pickup locations and more details are listed on the menus themselves.
Some background on JBFWomenofAZ: It's a group encouraged by the national collaboration Let’s Talk, part of the James Beard Foundation Women's Leadership Program. Let's Talk was founded by Rohini Dey, Ph.D., owner of Vermilion in Chicago and a trustee of the James Beard Foundation.
"We are jointly promoting our sustainable success through the pandemic and beyond, proudly working together to boost small business, learn from each other, and to share and create opportunities," reads the JBFWomenofAZ website. "We are stronger together!"
Female chef participants have been meeting on Zoom in previous months to organize the alliances in different cities. So far, the collaboration has spanned 10 cities and involves more than 200 women restaurateurs.
"Chicago started it off, and other cities have followed suit with women-led food festivals, tasting menus, holiday gift baskets, and the like," says chef Lori Hassler of The Farish House. "You can see how each state’s group has taken their own direction and been really creative. This is our first event, and we hope to grow and foster some new events and promotions."
Meaning yes, January's menu series is just round one.
For more information, or to order starting January 9, see the JBFWomenofAZ website.