By Marilyn Hawkes, Photos courtesy of Phoenix Cooks
If you’re staying in town over Labor Day weekend and looking for a fun way to beat the heat, check out Phoenix Cooks!, a food and drink extravaganza featuring close to 40 restaurants and resorts and a robust sampling of beer, wine and spirits.
Hosted by iHeartMedia, the 13th annual Phoenix Cooks! event takes place 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2 at Westin Kierland Resort and Spa. Organizers expect about 3,000 people to attend the culinary event.
Many of the participating restaurants are located in the Scottsdale Airpark area, including Deseo at Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, nékter Juice Bar, North Italia, The Greene House, Tanzy Restaurant and Tommy Bahama Restaurant.
Attendees can look forward to sampling chefs’ specialties and sipping on a variety of beverages from Breakthru Beverage, Hensley Beverage Co., Huss Brewing, Deep Eddy Vodka and others. As in past years, Phoenix Cooks! will offer a designated driver ticket for folks who don’t imbibe alcoholic drinks but still want to enjoy unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, food and stage presentations.
Phoenix Cooks! will feature a dueling chefs competition, in which local culinary luminaries will be given a mystery ingredient and then vie to make the best dish. “The friendly cooking competitions are always fun because all the chefs in this town really actually like each other, which is not always the case in most cities,” says Beckett’s Table and Southern Rail’s Justin Beckett, who will compete this year. “Any time you can get a group of like-minded people in the same room to celebrate food and the chefs in this town, I’m all in.”
Also on the program: live, interactive cooking demonstrations every half-hour showcasing some of the Valley’s top cooking talent. Christopher Gross of Christopher’s Restaurant & Crush Lounge will be on hand for the festivities.
This year, the annual culinary event benefits Special Olympics Arizona (SOAZ).
“Special Olympics Arizona is proud to be part of the Phoenix Cooks! event,” says Tim Martin, SOAZ president and CEO. “The support we receive will help provide inclusive sports, adaptive athletic competitions, health education and screenings, leadership training, youth development, and disability awareness for adults and children with intellectual disabilities.”
iHeartMedia is also happy to lend a hand to Special Olympics. “Special Olympics Arizona is an important organization that helps individuals with intellectual disabilities in creating their own gateway to empowerment, competence, acceptance and joy,” says Kelly Manders of iHeartMedia. “We are very proud to be partnering with them for this event.”
For those who want to celebrate the waning days of summer with a staycation, Westin Kierland Resort & Spa offers a Phoenix Cooks! package that includes a two-night stay (Friday and Saturday nights), all the resort’s amenities and two tickets to Phoenix Cooks! Rates are $319 for single occupancy, $399 for double occupancy; both require a two-night stay. Visit kierlandresort.com for more details.
Phoenix Cooks! tickets cost $85 in advance and $100 at the door, and include food and beverage sampling and stage demonstrations. Designated driver tickets are $60. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit phxcooks.com.