40 Years of Philanthropy, Food and Fun

Writer Shoshana Leon
Photography Courtesy of Tavits Photography and Tim Fuchs

The Scottsdale Culinary Festival, one of the longest running food festivals in the country and the signature fundraising event for the Scottsdale League for the Arts, celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2018. Over time it has expanded from a weekend food festival to several culinary fundraising events throughout the year. Through these events, the Scottsdale League for the Arts has raised more than $4.5 million to support the arts in Maricopa County since 2000.

“The evolution of the Scottsdale Culinary Festival is truly a decades-long story of cooperation, partnership and charity between the Scottsdale League for the Arts, Scottsdale Arts and the City of Scottsdale,” said Dr. Glenn Azzari, who was recently named president of the Scottsdale League for the Arts. “Our membership is continually asking how we can keep pace with the times, whether it is by adding events, expanding offerings or making changes so that our guests can enjoy culinary philanthropy in a fun way.”

The Scottsdale League for the Arts is a nonprofit organization that provides grants to artists, art programs and arts education across Maricopa County. The proceeds from its culinary events fund its grants program and culinary arts scholarships. The Scottsdale League for the Arts’ 2017 grant recipients include Fountain Hills Community Theater, Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, the Phoenix Film Foundation and Valley Youth Theatre.

The Scottsdale League for the Arts was formed in 1978 as the Men’s League of the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts with a mission to raise funds for capital improvements to the Performing Arts Center. The Scottsdale Culinary Festival started as a way to raise funds for these improvements. At that time, it was an indoor event with a few local restaurants and vendors. The event has grown to become one of Arizona’s most popular festivals with more than 35 restaurants and 25,000 attendees annually. In the past several years, the Scottsdale League for the Arts has added more culinary fundraising events to increase its impact and reach in the community.

“We offer an exciting menu of culinary fundraisers that draw all types of guests,” said Azzari. “Cooks + Corks in November is an upscale tasting event featuring some of the Valley’s most prestigious chefs and world-class wine pairings. In December, the Brunch Club hosts the Valley’s tastiest morning featuring the all-stars of the local brunch scene.”

The sixth annual Cooks + Corks event will take place on November 2 at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. Some of Arizona’s finest chefs will create sophisticated bites paired with fine wines enhanced by live music and stunning desert views. Participating restaurants include T. Cook’s at the Royal Palms, Deseo at the Westin Kierland, Jewel’s Bakery and Café, LONS’s at the Hermosa Inn, Fat Ox, the Arizona Biltmore, Dahl Restaurant Group, and Proof and Talavera at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. Beverages will be provided by Cellar 433, Moet & Chandon, Tobin James Cellars, Terradora di Paolo and Press Coffee Roasters. VIP admission includes a champagne welcome, gift bags, an exclusive lounge area, and early access to food and wine tastings.

Now in its second year, the Brunch Club event will take place at Mountain Shadows on December 1. The event will feature brunch bites from Valley chefs paired with cocktails, champagne and beer in a fun setting with a lively DJ and breathtaking mountain views. Last year’s menu included green chili pork chilaquiles, banana ricotta pancakes and brioche French toast. More information on participating restaurants and tickets for this year’s event will be available at thebrunchclubaz.org.

The Scottsdale League for the Arts hosts happy hour fundraisers on the third Thursday of each month at restaurants around the Valley where supporters can gather to enjoy food and drink specials. Attendees also have the opportunity to win raffle prizes.

These fundraising events lead up to the 2019 Scottsdale Culinary Festival, which will take place April 13-14 on the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall. Weekend activities include food and beverage tastings, competitions, cooking demonstrations, family activities and live music, showcasing the Valley’s culinary talent and suppliers.

“We have seen multiple generations of families, groups of friends and thousands of people from all over the Valley attend the festival over the years,” said Azzari. “It’s the smells, the tastes, the sounds and the wonderful shared experiences that people remember. The Scottsdale Culinary Festival creates memories that last for years and we pride ourselves on giving our attendees the best possible experience.”

Volunteers are critical to the success of the Scottsdale League for the Arts and its culinary fundraising events. “The Scottsdale League for the Arts is a 100% volunteer organization. We are always looking for new restaurants, volunteers and members who value our mission of culinary philanthropy,” said Azzari. “Our events are successful because of a diverse group of energetic people who commit time, energy and funds to support the arts and arts education locally through the tastiest fundraisers in Arizona.”


Cooks + Corks

Friday, November 2

6:30 p.m./VIP access at 5:30 p.m.

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

10600 E. Crescent Moon Dr., Scottsdale


The Brunch Club

Saturday, December 1
11:00 a.m.

Mountain Shadows
5445 E. Lincoln Dr., Paradise Valley


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