Arizona Food and Wine Experience
The Place: AZ Food and Wine Experience
When: November 7-8, 2015 (hopefully an annual event)
The Location: Scottsdale Fashion Square
By: Kelly Loubet
The first annual Arizona Food and Wine Experience took place November 7-8, 2015. From what I experienced and what’s been shared via social media… It seems like the biggest draw was Graham Elliot from TV’s MasterChef. Local chef celebs, like Mark Tarbell were also in attendance. All in all, it was actually a really well done event! I’ve been to many, many food and drink festivals. They’re usually a hot mess, but AZ Central did a wonderful job in putting together the Food and Wine Experience!
The lines were organized and the crowds managed well. There were even lovely restrooms! But we’re not here to talk about the amenities… let’s talk food (and drinks). The Food and Wine Experience wasn’t strictly about food and wine. There was food. And lots of it. There were also plenty of cocktails! My favorite happened to be the Woodford Reserve in the VIP area. You could order a taste of a classic Manhattan, complete with a cherry, or straight up on the rocks! The VIP area was probably the most disappointing part of the experience, so it was fantastic to see such a high class bourbon being offered to attendees.
There were a few levels of tickets available. General Admission tickets allowed attendees into a special tent hosted by AJ’s Fine Foods. I discovered that my favorite pasta sauce brand, Rao’s, was hosted in the tent, along with some yummy appetizers! The General Admission tickets also included a cigar tent and chef demos. Grand Tasting tickets allowed attendees into a special area to sample from 60+ local restaurants and over 100+ breweries, distilleries, and wineries! Yum! The VIP tickets allowed attendees to get settled an hour before the rest of the crowd + a special lounge area. It would have been nice to have made the lounge area feel like more than just a roped off sitting area. However, the Woodford was amazing.
If you check out the photo gallery at the top of this post… you’ll find some of my favorite moments! Gadzooks was especially yummy. I had no idea their menu was as broad as it is. I’ll be in for lunch sometime soon for sure! And the steak salad from The Vig was off the charts delicious. One of the few consumer products scattered among the food and drinks, was a small booth from Refresh Glass. They create drinkware, candle holders, and other gifts from rescued wine bottles!
As a foodie and a wino… I had an amazing time. And strangely enough, I wasn’t there on a media pass. It was my birthday weekend and my special someone gifted me VIP passes. We had a really wonderful time and I can’t wait to go back again next year.