Devour Culinary Classic – Celebrate a Decade of Delicious

Writer Shoshana Leon
Photography Courtesy of Devour Culinary Classic

Arizona is home to many amazing food and wine festivals, and more are added every year. The Devour Culinary Classic is one of the Valley’s most celebrated and most popular, highlighting local culinary talent, cuisine and suppliers.

Devour celebrates its tenth anniversary this year with a week of foodie fun in February, culminating in its award-winning weekend tasting extravaganza, showcasing the best bites and libations from across the state.

Local Focus
The idea for Devour was created by Kimber Lanning, founder of Local First Arizona, and Craig Demarco, cofounder of Upward Projects, which owns several Valley restaurants, including Postino, Windsor and Joyride Taco House.

“National media was focused on Scottsdale at the time, and we wanted to create an event that paid more attention to the Phoenix culinary scene. We wanted an event that was focused on building support and momentum for Phoenix pride,” said Lanning.

The objective of Devour is to support and promote Arizona’s food community and culture.

“I think we’re special because we are so focused on Arizona talent,” said Lanning. “That was our goal 10 years ago, and that’s still what we do. We work to bring in judges and food writers from around the country to showcase all that we have here.

“Our focus is on shining the spotlight on Arizona’s vibrant culinary talent, which is nationally competitive but often overlooked. Devour is putting Phoenix on the map of the best dining destinations in the country.”

Local foodies are longtime supporters of Devour.

“People coming to Devour feel like they’re part of the food scene and are helping to grow it. They know the chefs and cheer them on. Devour is where the chefs can take chances and interact with the people who support them year-round,” said Lanning.

In addition to supporting local culinary talent, Devour supports the community with proceeds benefitting the efforts of three local non-profit organizations: Local First Arizona, which promotes and supports a sustainable Arizona economy and local businesses; Desert Botanical Garden, advancing excellence in education, research, exhibition and conservation of desert plants; and the Arizona Business Committee for the Arts, which helps expand artistic and cultural opportunities, and promote cultural awareness through festivals and educational events.

A Weeklong Culinary Celebration
Devour is more than a weekend food festival. Devour hosts several events throughout the week that highlight Arizona’s best food and beverage talent.

The fun kicks off on Sunday, Feb. 17 at the Devour Bartending Competition. Top Arizona mixologists showcase their talents and attendees can cheer for their favorite bartenders. Experts judge the creative libations to select Arizona’s Star Bartender.

Also Feb. 17 is Devour’s Seven Chefs Dinner featuring some of Arizona’s most celebrated chefs serving a multi-course menu highlighting Arizona flavors. The Seven Chefs, also known as the Arizona Seven, is a group of local chefs and friends who have cooked at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City.

Bernie Kantak, chef/co-owner of The Gladly and Citizen Public House hosts the event at The Gladly. Talent for the 2019 Seven Chefs Dinner includes Justin Beckett of Beckett’s Table and Southern Rail, Scott Holmes of Little Miss BBQ, Stephen Jones of The Larder + The Delta, Doug Robson of Gallo Blanco and Otro Café, Jacob Cutino of the Cutino Sauce Company, and Courtney Velador of Super Chunk Sweets and Treats and New Wave Market.

This second annual Devour the World event celebrates the international flavors of Phoenix with food and beverage samples from restaurants showcasing cuisine from around the world. Devour the World takes place Thursday, Feb. 21 at the Japanese Friendship Garden in downtown Phoenix. Participating restaurants include Hana Japanese Eatery, El Chullo Peruvian Restaurant and Bar, Andreoli Italian Grocer and many more Arizona restaurants specializing in international cuisine.

The week culminates with the Devour Culinary Classic Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 23 and 24 at the Desert Botanical Garden, where guests can sample cuisine, wine, beer and spirits from a variety of local chefs, restaurants and suppliers.

Individual tickets are available for each of these events. Tickets must be purchased for each day of the Devour Culinary Classic’s weekend tastings. Guests can purchase the Tasting Package which includes one-day admission with access to tastings, beverage garden and demos, and a commemorative wine glass. The VIP Package offers the opportunity to meet the event’s VIP chefs, exclusive access to the VIP lounge, swag bag and early admission to the event.

Local Talent
As a culinary event designed to highlight local talent, the Devour Culinary Classic features food and drink samples from Arizona’s most acclaimed chefs and most exciting restaurants.

Saturday’s featured restaurants include Chula Seafood, Talavera, T. Cook’s, Ghost Ranch, Fat Ox and many more. Sunday’s featured restaurants include Deseo, Clever Koi, Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails, House of Tricks and Different Pointe of View.

Saturday and Sunday tastings also feature VIP chefs. Saturday’s VIP chefs are James Beard nominee Silvana Salcido Esparza, owner of Barrio Cafe and Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva, and Tamara Stanger of the acclaimed Cotton and Copper restaurant in Tempe.

Sunday’s VIP chefs are Christopher Gross, James Beard award winner and celebrated Valley chef who recently joined Geordie’s Restaurant at the Wrigley Mansion, and Lori Hashimoto of the award-winning, family-owned Hana Japanese Eatery.

“This year for Devour’s tenth anniversary, there will be more chef demonstrations and more wine pairings thanks to the Arizona Vignerons Alliance who are bringing in several national critics for an amazing panel discussion on Arizona wines,” said Lanning. “There will also be an educational component focused on heritage foods, and a commemorative recipe book featuring 10 of Arizona’s greatest chefs.”

If you want to support local culinary talent and the community while sampling some truly amazing food and beverages with local flair, spend some time at Devour and learn what keeps people coming back year after year.

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