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James Beard Foundation's Taste America Tour Returns to Phoenix Later This Month

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Later this month, the James Beard Foundation's third annual Taste America Tour will arrive in the Valley, bringing top local restaurants and chefs together for a weekend of epic proportions

The headlining event is a multi-course dinner held at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa for the second year in row. But the weekend also includes a kick-off reception on Thursday night and a day of programming on Saturday with cooking demonstrations, book-signings, and more.

The festivities start on Thursday, September 24, with the Taste of Fox Restaurant Concepts Reception held at Culinary Dropout at The Yard at Farmer Arts District in Tempe. The event will showcase five restaurant concepts from two-time James Beard Awards Outstanding Restaurateur semifinalist Sam Fox. Featured restaurants will include The Henry, Flower Child, Culinary Dropout, North Italia, and Little Cleo’s Seafood Legend, and each concept will serve small plates and cocktails from 7 to 9 p.m. 

Then Friday night brings the weekend's top event: a blowout dinner featuring Taste America All-Star Michel Nischan and a handful of local stars. The lineup for the dinner this year, which will be held on Friday, September 25, includes: 

  • Taste America All-Star Taste America All-Star Michel Nischan* (JBF Humanitarian of the Year and founder of Wholesome Wave)
  • Local Star Chris Bianco (Pizzeria Bianco; Phoenix)
  • Local Star RoxSand Scocos McCreary
  • Host Chef Todd Allison (T. Cooks at Royal Palms Resort and Spa; Phoenix)
  • Kevin Binkley (Binkley’s Restaurant Group)
  • Matt Carter (Zinc Bistro; Scottsdale)
  • Rochelle Daniel (The Restaurant at L’Auberge de Sedona; Sedona)
  • Mel Mecinas (Talavera at Four Seasons Resort; Scottsdale)
  • Mark Tarbell (Tarbell’s Restaurant Group; Phoenix)

Chefs Kevin Binkley, Matt Carter, Rochelle Daniel, Mel Mecinas, and Mark Tarbell will start the night with a reception featuring small bites and cocktails at 7 p.m. Dinner, which will start at 8, will be prepared with three James Beard Award-winning chefs, Michel Nischan, Chris Bianco, RoxSand Scocos McCreary, and host Chef Todd Allison of the Royal Palms. 

Here's the menu for the dinner event: 

RECEPTION

KEVIN BINKLEY
Flash Frozen Prosciutto / Melon

MATT CARTER
Guinea Hen / Oyster / Chilmole / Agave Vinegar

ROCHELLE DANIEL
Foie Mousse / Plum Jam / Candied Peanut / Cress

MEL MECINAS
Nespresso Rub Venison Loin / Foie Gras /  Celery Root Blini

MARK TARBELL
House-Made Ricotta / Roasted Butternut Squash / Crispy Sage

DINNER

FIRST COURSE / TODD ALLISON
Pickled Heirloom Golden Beets / Crows Dairy Goat Cheese / Watercress / 

Cranberry Pistachio Pesto / Barrel Aged Sherry Bourbon

SECOND COURSE / CHRIS BIANCO
Hand-rolled Garganelli (Arizona durum) / Heirloom Tomato Passata / Smoked Ricotta

ENTRÉE / MICHEL NISCHAN
Seared Wild Salmon / Ancient Grains / Wilted Greens

DESSERT / ROXSAND SCOCOS MCCREARY
Croque en bouche / Rose’s Italian Cheesecake
Warm Whiskey Torte Ramekins
Assorted Cookies — Gingersnaps / Sephardic Jewish Sesame /Chocolate and 
Dried Cherry / Coconut Macaroons / Lacey Oatmeal
Assorted Chocolates – Truffles / Marjoline / Kit Kat
Assorted Candies – Lollipops / Hazelnut Brittle / Pecan Pralines

Finally on Saturday, September 26, you'll be able to head to Sur La Table at Kierland Commons in Scottsdale for a day of free programming. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. the store will host a series of events including cooking demos by Michel Nischan at 10 a.m. and cookbook author and teacher Barbara Fenzl at noon. Throughout the day there will also be book signings, tastings from local producers and artisans including AZ Queen Bee and Super Chunk, and more. Reservations for the events will be recommended and will open two weeks prior the event.

Tickets to the Taste of Fox Restaurant Concepts Reception  cost $100 per person and tickets to the Taste America dinner on Friday night begin at $275 per person. The James Beard Foundation donates a portion of the evening’s proceeds to the Taste America Scholarship Fund.

To purchase tickets to either event or to make reservations for Saturdays programs, visit the James Beard Foundation's Taste America Tour website.                            

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