Over the last 37 years, the annual Scottsdale Culinary Festival has earned a reputation as one of the Valley's don't-miss food and drink events. Usually, the week-long celebration of local restaurants and chefs means seven days of eating, drinking, and trying not to burn out on all the fun.
But this year, the festival organizers have switched things up. Rather than cramming all the events into such a short period of time, this year's festivities will be spread out over the next few weeks.
From a burger battle to private dinners with the city's top chefs, here's a guide to what the 2016 Scottsdale Culinary Festival has to offer . For more information about any of the events or to purchase tickets, visit the Scottsdale Culinary Festival website.
Thursday, March 24
Make your way to Scottsdale's Hotel Valley Ho to taste how 15 metro Phoenix restaurants prepare one of the most American dishes out there, the burger. Some of the participating restaurants include Aioli Gourmet Burgers, Hopdoddy, Black & Bleu American Grill, Zinburger, and The District. Burgers will be awarded a people's choice award and a judge's choice award — and New Times food editor Lauren Saria will be among the judges this year. A ticket includes unlimited burger tastings, fries, Leinenkugel’s beer, dessert, and live music.
Friends of the James Beard Foundation Benefit Dinner
Thursday, March 24
Seven different James Beard award-winning chefs will gather at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa to prepare a multi-course meal paired with wines from Napa Valley's Barnett Vineyards at this upscale event. Individual tickets cost $225 and a table of 10 costs $2,100.
Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame
Monday, March 28
Held at Scottsdale entertainment venue Livewire, this year's Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame honors some of Arizona's top culinary talent. Categories include Chef of the Year, Brewer of the Year, Best Upcoming Chef, Restaurateur of the Year, Food Truck of the Year, Mixologist of the Year, Food Writer of the Year, and Winemaker of the Year. This year's Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is Christopher Gross, chef of Christopher's & Crush Lounge. Tickets cost $10.
Happy Hours Around the World
Thursday, April 7
One of this year's new events is Happy Hours Around the World. During this booze-filled fest at The Saguaro hotel, you'll enjoy food and drinks from Scottsdale's eight sister cities including Interlaken, Switzerland; Alamos, Mexico; Haikou, China, and Marrakech, Morocco. Once your "passport" is full, you'll get complimentary tickets to the Scottsdale Culinary Festival. Tickets cost $50 in advance or $60 at the door.
Eat, Drink & Be Pretty
Friday, April 15
Food and fashion collide at the annual Eat, Drink & Be Pretty event at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Sip beers, wines, and signature cocktails, and taste culinary creations from more than 25 metro Phoenix restaurants. You also can enjoy a live runway show featuring creations from the region's top designers, indulge in spa treatments, and listen to live music. General admission tickets cost $85 in advance or $100 at the door.
Southwest Festival of Beers
Saturday, April 16 and Sunday, April 17
At the weekend-long Southwest Festival of Beers, guests can enjoy more than 200 beers from 40 breweries. Participating local breweries include Fate Brewing Company, Huss Brewing Company, San Tan Brewing Company, and Bad Water Brewing. Beer garden admission, which costs $40, includes a beer tasting mug and live music. Tickets also include admission into the Scottsdale Culinary Festival and 20 beer samples but does not include food.
Scottsdale Culinary Festival
Saturday, April 16 and Sunday, April 17
The two-day Scottsdale Culinary Festival, held at the Scottsdale Civic Center, will feature food from top Scottsdale restaurants in addition to a Culinary Experience Tent where attendees can watch chef demos, student cooking challenges, and discussions from culinary leaders. Guests can indulge in food from 40 restaurants, drinks from 30 craft breweries, and live music from 20 bands. At The Epicurean Expo, attendees can check out the latest in cooking and kitchen gadgets. Featured restaurants include Sushi Roku, The Muffin Girl, Roka Akor, Delice Bistro, Caketini, and Squid Ink. Tickets cost $10 for general admission.
Chef Dinner Series
Saturday, April 16
On Saturday, April 16, you can head to several top metro Phoenix restaurants to experience a four-course meal paired with choice libations. The only currently announced restaurant is Lon's at the Hermosa, where chef Jeremy Pacheco will pair dinner with wine from France's Domaine de la Vougeraie. Tickets cost $125. Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. and is limited to 24 guests.
Best of the Fest
Sunday, April 17
The festival's last event features eight chefs serving up five-course, wine-paired dinners prepared table side. The chefs will serve just two tables each to give diners a personal experience. Featured chefs include Joshua Hebert of Posh, Mel Mecinas of Talavera, Dushyant Singh of The Camby Hotel, Christian Brady of the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch, Juan Solorio of the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale’s Southwest Bistro, and Jeremy Pacheco of Lon's at the Hermosa.
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