Desert to Dish: Chef's Kitchen Welcome Reception
In partnership with the James Beard Foundation, the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia recently hosted the first annual Desert to Dish. This three-day event took place on Thursday, October 22nd through Saturday, October 24th. Modeled after the popular Fish to Fork culinary weekend held at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort in Florida, Desert to Dish aimed to put a spotlight on the culinary wealth of Arizona's farms, dairies, and purveyors. In addition, a Master Sommelier and five acclaimed chefs from across the country were involved in a special series of dining experiences, a tour of Arizona farms, seminars and classes, and a Sonoran Showdown competition.
The festivities kicked off with Omni Scottsdale Resort's Executive Chef Michael Cairns' Chef's Kitchen Welcome Reception on Thursday evening. Under twinkling lights, we mingled with Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer who was giving a seminar on Saturday, and visiting chefs Brandon Foster of Vesta Dipping Grill in Denver, Joey Beato of Chicago’s Community Tavern, Joe Magnanelli of San Diego’s CUCINA urbana and of Cucina enoteca, Brian Luscher of The Grape and Luscher’s Red Hots in Dallas, and Jason Porter of Seven Glaciers in Anchorage, Alaska.
As we sipped on wine and cocktails, we grazed on the delicious food, including crispy fried cheese curds from the Arizona Cheese Company with buttermilk ranch dip, artichokes with caramelized onions and manchego cheese, shrimp cocktail with candied jalapenos and chile vodka, seared scallops with lemon risotto and pomegranate seeds, and potato and chorizo croquettes:
Salmon with cucumber and preserved lemon salad, sesame-soy tuna with wasabi caviar and ginger sake, and filet with cauliflower puree and mushroom ragout:
Executive Chef Michael Cairns of the Omni Scottsdale welcomed us as he spoke about the intent of this culinary extravaganza: "One, we are trying to raise money for the James Beard Foundation, and two, to thank the farmers, the purveyors, the wine makers, the distillers, and brew masters that work so hard every day. Especially for us in the food and beverage industry, without them we really don’t exist. I really just want to thank everybody for coming. I know the chefs are excited, and the farmers are excited. This is going to be a great weekend and we're going to have a lot of fun."
General Manager Frank Ashmore was likewise as enthusiastic as he thanked Chef Cairns. "We're here celebrating agritourism and all the wonderful things Arizona has to offer. Every great team needs a great quarterback, and this would not be possible without the vision of Chef Michael Cairns. Welcome to our family and welcome to our home."
Desert to Dish schedule of events (click for recap and photos):
Thursday, October 22nd: Chef's Kitchen Welcome Reception
Friday, October 23rd: Farm Excursions and Supporting Culinary Dreams Reception
Saturday, October 24th: Master Culinary Classes and Sonoran Showdown finale.
I received a complimentary media invitation to this event.