Next Sunday you'll find us at the second annual Check, Please! Arizona Festival at CityScape in downtown Phoenix. The event, hosted by PBS Eight (and co-sponsored by Chow Bella) will feature dozens of local restaurants and chefs, as well as an impressive lineup of panel discussions, cooking demos, and more. There's going to be a lot to eat, drink, hear, and see -- and here are the five things we won't want to miss.
Lester Gonzalez of Cowboy Ciao Chef Demonstration 11:15 a.m. on the SubZero Wolf Stage
We can't help liking Cowboy Ciao's executive chef Lester Gonzalez, who's been with the Scottsdale restaurant for more than a decade. Gonzalez, who's got a knack for crafting eclectic but approachable cuisine, trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale and started his career at Cowboy Ciao as a line cook. He's one of the humblest chefs we know and we can't wait to see what he'll be making at the event.
Robert McGrath: Chef Demonstration 11:30 a.m. on the Safeway Grilling Stage
Last year, we were impressed by Robert McGrath's super-smooth demo, which offered plenty of laughs and entertainment in addition to helpful cooking tips. McGrath has been nominated for the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef: Southwest award five times and also hosts the PBS Eight show, during which local restaurants get reviewed by citizen critics.
Christopher Gross: Wine Seminar 12:30 p.m. on the Chow Bella Stage
Gross has been in the business for decades, winning numerous awards and recognition, including a James Beard award and the Robert Mondavi Culinary Award of Excellence. At the festival, the chef will be sharing his knowledge of wines -- and pouring some too, so you can drink while you learn.
James Beard Award Winner Panel Discussion 1:30 p.m. on the Chow Bella Stage
Back for a second year, this panel event will bring together three of the state's James Beard Award-winning chefs for a discussion about the business, food trends, and more. The event will be hosted by Robert McGrath and will feature chefs Christopher Gross and Nobuo Fukuda. Last year, the topics of discussion included fine dining and the economy, seasonality, and the economics of food trends. We can't wait to hear the chefs weigh in on even more issues at this year's event.
There's a super lineup, but here are five within our five: the restaurants we will be sure to hit up first! We're particularly looking forward to sampling offerings from Vogue Bistro in Surprise (since we'll be honest, we don't go out to Surprise as much as we'd like) and Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe, a true Phoenix classic. The lineup also includes Chow Bella favorites Citizen Public House, Rancho Pinot, and Lon's at the Hermosa.
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The Check, Please! Arizona Festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at CityScape in downtown Phoenix on Sunday, March 30. Tickets cost $69 in advance or $79 at the gate. They can be purchased online and include all food and drink samples, panel discussions, and demos.
For more information visit the Check, Please! Arizona Festival website.