Get out your calendars, folks. And your credit cards.
You've paid your dues through the most boooring part of summer, and now you can finally treat yourselves with tickets or reservations for some exciting culinary events coming up in the next month or so.
It's just the beginning of the culinary/social calendar, and there's already so much to look forward to between early September and early October. (And yes, there's plenty to come after that.)
1. Everything starts next week with the fifth annual Phoenix Cooks!, taking place at the Westin Kierland Resort on September 5. Tastings, classes, cooking demonstrations, a "dine around" event, and a raffle are included in the festivities.
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2. Corks and Chords is happening September 12 at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale. Wine and food tastings, live acoustic music, and a silent auction are part of the evening soiree, whose proceeds will benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
3. Following last year's successful debut, Arizona Restaurant Week returns September 19 to 26, with three-course dinner menus available for $29 per person or $58 per couple. The list of participating restaurants is huge -- and includes some of the Valley's best -- so it's a good way to check out old faves and new spots alike. Reservations are already filling up, though, so plan ahead.
4. This is the very first year for Chandler's own culinary festival, TASTE, with dozen of participating restaurants and beverage purveyors throwing a grand party right in the middle of historic San Marcos Plaza, on October 3. Along with the tastings, there will be live music performances. A portion of the event proceeds will benefit the Downtown Chandler Community Foundation.
5. Dine Out With the Chefs comes back to Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts for its fourth consecutive year on October 4. Along with food tastings presented by some of the Valley's most recognizable chefs, beer and wine tastings, live music, and raffle prizes, wine expert Jennifer Hashim-Buckey will give a presentation on winegrowing and grape varietals, and writer Pamela Swartz will sign copies of her book Dine Out Phoenix: Where to Eat from Chic to Unique.