Top 5 Favorite Events at the 2013 Scottsdale Culinary Festival

Over 100 restaurants, dozens of chefs, 20 events, countless wine and spirit selections, and 35,000 hungry guests? It must be the Scottsdale Culinary Festival.

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Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the Scottsdale Culinary Festival, the longest running festival of its type, happens Tuesday, April 9, through Sunday, April 14 at various locations around the Valley. And with so much going on -- from luxurious dinners, themed cocktail parties, chef demonstrations, and tasting venues -- getting the most bang for your festival buck can feel a bit overwhelming.

Here's five of our favorite events to help guide the way. We'll be there. Will you?

Burger Battle 6:30 - 9:30 p.m., Thursday, April 11 Scottsdale Stadium, 7408 East Osborn Road, Scottsdale Cost: $55 per person

Burger fans can take a bite of 16 burgers from 16 chefs and restaurants (think Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers, Culinary Dropout, Lenny's Burger, RnR, and Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar) and vote on their favorite for the People's Choice Award (there's a Judges Award as well). Plus, your Burger Battle tickets include Leinenkugel's beer, soft drinks, fries, dessert, and live music -- all in the friendly confines of Scottsdale Stadium.

Chocolate and Wine Experience 7 - 10 p.m., Wednesday, April 10 Talking Stick Resort, 9800 East Indian Bend Road, Scottsdale Cost: $50 per person

You and your sweet tooth will appreciate this event, where the Valley's top chocolatiers expertly pair their creations with wines from around the world. Look for B Naked Chocolates, Cowboy Ciao, Epicurean Foods, Sassi, and Tracy Dempsey Originals to be among the participants.

Wine Country Brunch 11 a.m. - 2 p.m., Sunday, April 14 Scottsdale Resort and Conference Center, 7700 East McCormick Parkway, Scottsdale Cost: $65 per person or $55 per person for a table of 10

Mimosas, some of the Valley's top restaurants, sunshine -- it doesn't get any better for brunch lovers than this event. Who's got the best brunch? That's for you to decide when you sample brunch-y bites from restaurants like Amuse Bouche, Tryst Café, and Village Tavern then vote on your favorite.

Great Arizona Picnic Noon - 9 p.m., Saturday, April 13 Noon - 6 p.m., Sunday, April 14 Scottsdale Civic Center, 3939 North Drinkwater Boulevard, Scottsdale Cost: $10 per person, general admission (Tickets for food, beverages, and specialty tent areas are not included in Picnic admission.)

The signature event of the Festival translates to a kind of non-committal culinary romp of tasty bites from over 50 Valley restaurants plus cooking demonstrations, "Cocktail Culture" from the Valley's top mixologists, and live music. Pony up a little more green and score vodka-infused drinks and tequila creations, sample from over 200 varieties at the Southwest Festival of Beers, and gain access to the VIP tent.

Chef Wine Dinners 6:30 p.m., Saturday, April 13 Various Valley Restaurants Cost: $125 per person

Rub elbows with award-winning chefs at some of the Valley's top-notch restaurants (think Roka Akor, Talavera at the Four Season, J&G Steakhouse, Distrito, and Il Terrazzo at the Phoenician) for a series of exclusive four-course dinners and wine pairings. To keep things intimate, dinners are limited to 24 attendees per restaurant.

The Scottsdale Culinary Festival is the primary fundraiser for the Scottsdale League for the Arts. Since 2002, the League has donated over $3.5 million to the arts in Arizona.

For additional events, information, or to purchase tickets, go the Festival's website.

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld