The Scottsdale Culinary Festival sounds monolithic, but the granddaddy among the Valley's culinary festivals is surprisingly multifaceted -- a dozen different events at 16 different restaurants and venues around town, ranging from casual tastings to semi-formal sit-down occasions.
Tuesday's Bubbles and Bliss at the W is sold out, but it's not too late to join the gala Friends of James Beard Dinner at the Westin Kierland (if you have $200, that is). Robert McGrath and Douglas Rodriguez are among eight participating chefs creating a six-course meal with wine pairings.
On Wednesday, the Chef Tribute Dinner at J&G Steakhouse ($125) features a four-course meal from chef Jacques Qualin, with food writer John Mariani in the house to talk about culinary trends. Barbara Fenzl, Nobuo Fukuda, Christopher Gross, Vincent Guerithault, Charles Wiley, Robert McGrath, Beau MacMillan, Janos Wilder, and Mark Tarbell will also be in attendance, mingling with guests.
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There's an On the Rocks cocktail party scheduled for Wednesday night, poolside at the Valley Ho ($40), and for Thursday night at the Mondrian ($40). Also on Thursday night, the Scottsdale League for the Arts presents the annual Culinary Hall of Fame Awards Dinner at the Wrigley Mansion ($150).
The Eat, Drink and Be Pretty party, to be held at Scottsdale Center for the Arts on Friday night ($60) will feature dancing and live music, a runway show presented by Dillard's, and food from a variety of spots -- everyone from Talavera to Buffalo Wild Wings.
Cooks & Corks and The Great Arizona Picnic runs Saturday ($75) and Sunday ($65) afternoon at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts and Scottsdale Civic Plaza, respectively -- the former is more of a traditional wine- and food-sampling soiree, with fancy eats, cooking demos, wine seminars, and celeb appearances from the likes of the Food Network's Robin Miller, chefs Rock Harper and Christina Machamer from Hell's Kitchen, and Bravo Top Chefs Lee Ann Wong and Stephanie Izard, while the latter is a bustling outdoor festival with live entertainment, demos, and an Iron Chef-style Challenge to the Chefs cooking contest between Aaron May, Jeff Smedstad, Tim Fields, and Wade Moises, with lots of casual nibbles (tasting coupons are $1 apiece). A ticket to Cooks & Corks gets you into the Picnic as well.
Several different restaurants, including Bourbon Steak and Il Terrazzo, will be serving special four-course Chefs' Wine Dinners on Saturday night ($125), while the InterContinental Montelucia will hold a Wine Country Brunch on Sunday. Sunday evening, the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale's Best of the Fest wraps up the whole event with five courses and wine ($175), courtesy of chefs Kevin Binkley, Lee Hillson, Michael Rusconi, Charles Wiley, Eric Howson, Scott Tompkins, Sean Kavanaugh, Noah Bekovsky, Mel Mecinas, Sean Griffin, and Eddie Matney.