Friday at Devoured: Palette to Palate

​To kick off this year's Devoured PHX Culinary Classic the Phoenix Art Musuem hosted Palette to Palate, a pairing of chefs, artists, and spirits, in the great hall of the museum for a crowd willing to spring for the $45 (plus fees) ticket. 

The attending chefs were: Silvana Salcido Esparza of the Barrio Cafe, James Porter of Petite Maison, Aaron Chamberlain of St. Francis, and the Guerilla Gourmet himself, Payton Curry. Guests meandered from table to table sampling gourmet bites, local wines, and possible bidding on a painting or two in the silent auction.

Chef: Silvana Salcido Esparza (Barrio Cafe) Artist: Lalo Cota Tequila: Don Julio 

Each chef had a table set up where they plated small amounts of food, paired with a wine from a an AZ vineyard, except Barrio Cafe's Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza. The queen

​ of Comida Chigona paired her food with a tequila tasting and had the low rider margaritas flowing. With Lalo Cota's artwork and hand built taco trike nearby, Chef Silvana offered up a roasted corn cocktail with chile, white cheese, and packed a ton of flavor. Also flavorful at her table was the shrimp and coconut ceviche, although the hard bite of coconut was a textural jolt amid the perfectly cooked shrimp.

In addition to the restaurant's famed 
"low rider" margarita, there were tastings of Don Julio Blanco with a bit of pineapple sprinkled with chile, and Don Julio Anejo served with a cinnamon dusted orange segment.

more palate tingling bites after the jump

Chef: James Porter (Petite Maison) Artsit: Randy Slack Wine: Dos Cabezas Wineworks

Located between two large colorful paintings by artist Randy Slack, Chef James Porter's table was equipped with a row of little donut makers, looking much like a row of waffle makers. From this small appliances came glorious fennel pollen donuts on which Chef topped with salmon fricasse and lemon creme fraiche. 

The donut melted when it hit the tongue and the creme fraiche added a bright note that made the rest of the flavors pop. People were lined up to snatch one of these savory donuts as fast as the comedic chef could set them out. A woman next to me admitted she was going in for her fourth one of the evening. Dos Cabezas Wineworks El Norte 2009 Syrah blend worked surprisingly well with the salmon and helped to pick up notes of the delicate fennel pollen rather than to drown them out.

Chef: Aaron Chamberlin (St. Francis) Artisit: James Angel Wine: Arizona Stronghold Vinyards  

Chef Aaron Chamberlain and his crew served slices of beet cured organic farm raised Scottish salmon with Honeybell tangelo and creme fraiche. While I have eaten my share of cured salmon, this was the first time I had seen or heard of beet cured salmon. The result made for an exquisite texture and color. Stronghold Vineyards's Tazi, a blended wine comprised mostly of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc paired well with the dish. 

​The tartare/Pringle bite paired well with Pillsbury Wine Co.'s Wildchild White Crop Circles dry white field blend comprised of Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasia, and Muscat. Wine maker Sam Pillsbury was there to pour the samples. 

Geoffrey Gersten's whimsical yet surrealistic depictions of animals and his own self-portraits met well with the food from the valley's Guerilla Gourmet.

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Michelle Martinez