On Sunday, March 22, some of the Valley's top chefs and favorite restaurants will come out for Eight's Check, Please! Arizona Festival. The event, which is a fundraiser for Eight Arizona PBS and is co-sponsored by New Times, will feature dozens of restaurants that have been featured during the seasons of the popular television show.
Gates will open at 11 a.m. at CityScape in downtown Phoenix, and tickets are still available starting at $79. In addition to including food and drinks, tickets include access to a schedule of entertainment from some of our local celebrity chefs. Here are the five parts of the event you really don't want to miss.
Culinary Leadership Discussion Panel Who: Josh Hebert, Posh; Cullen Campbell, Crudo; Gio Osso, Virtù Honest Craft; Robert McGrath, moderator When: 11:45 a.m. Where: Southern Wine & Spirits Stage
This new addition to this year's lineup features three of the leaders of the Valley's culinary scene. Chef Josh Hebert, of Posh restaurant in Scottsdale, has been living and cooking in Phoenix for more than a decade and headed up several kitchens in town before opening his own restaurant in 2008. He'll be joined by chef Cullen Campbell of Crudo, who honed his skills at well-known Valley restaurants including La Grande Orange and Atlas Bistro before opening his own modern Italian restaurant. The panel will be rounded out by Gio Osso of Virtu Honest Craft, which was named one of the best new restaurant's in the country by Esquire and the James Beard Award Foundation in 2014.
Nobuo Fukuda (cooking demonstration) When: Noon Where: Chow Bella Stage
For the second year in a row, chef Nobuo Fukuda will take the stage for a cooking demonstration at the Check, Please! Arizona Festival. Last year, not only did the chef show the audience how to prepare a dish, he also provided helpful cooking tricks and explained where to find the ingredients used in the preparation.
Christopher Gross 'Wine Tour' When: 12:30 p.m. Where: Southern Wine & Spirits Stage
Christopher Gross' knowledge about both wine and food is nothing short of encyclopaedic, and last year we loved the chance to join in on this informal wine tasting with the chef. As wine pourers wandered through the crowd giving small samples of each of the featured wines, Gross lead the audience on an exploration of both New and Old World varietals. It's worth catching whether or not you get to have a sample since Gross' descriptions of each wine are as entertaining as they are educational.
Behind the Scenes of Check, Please! Arizona with host Robert McGrath When: 12:45 p.m. Where: Southern Wine & Spirits Stage
It's likely that you're a fan of Eight's Check, Please! Arizona television show if you're at the show's annual festival. And as such, it only makes sense that you'd love a chance to hear the show's host, James Beard Award-winning chef Robert McGrath, lift the curtain and give some insight in the behind the scenes action. Bonus: You'll also be able to audition for the show during the festival.
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James Beard Award Winners Panel Who: Robert McGrath, moderator; Nobuo Fukuda, Nobuo at Teeter House; Christopher Gross, Christopher's Restaurant & Crush Lounge; Chris Bianco, Pizzeria Bianco, Pane Bianco, Bar Bianco When: 1:30 p.m. Where: Southern Wine & Spirits Stage
For true food geeks, this will be the highlight of the day's entertainment. After all, it's not every day you get to see some of the Valley's most decorated chefs come together to talk shop. Last year, the chefs fielded lots of questions from the crowd, and even gave their thoughts on what it takes to win a coveted James Beard Award.