Spring in Arizona brings plenty of all-star players to the desert, but they aren’t all found on a baseball diamond. Some of them are found in the kitchens of Arizona’s best restaurants and this weekend, you’ll find an all-star lineup of the Valley’s top chefs at Eight’s Check, Please! Arizona Festival at CityScape in downtown Phoenix.
Based on Eight’s award-winning, locally-produced dining show hosted by Chef Robert McGrath, the event will feature an impressive roster of Arizona’s culinary talent, along with samples from more than 25 local restaurants.
Get the stats on the all-star team of chefs slated to appear:
McGrath takes the manager’s role at the event, hosting the Culinary Leadership and James Beard Award Winners panel discussions.
Check, Please! Arizona. Eight, Arizona PBS’s #1 most popular program airs Thursdays and Saturdays.
- Nominated five times by The James Beard Foundation as “Best Chef in America: Southwest” HE WON THE HONOR in 2001.
- Created the Roaring Fork.
- Touted in Food & Wine as one of the Ten Best Chefs in America.
- Author of the popular cookbook, American Western Cooking from the Roaring Fork.
- Chef de cuisine at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin; executive chef of the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston; and chef/owner of Sierra Grill in Houston, and Brio Vista in Austin.
McGrath won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame in 2013.
Pizzeria Bianco, Bar Bianco and Pane Bianco locally; Union Jack’s in London
A James Beard Award-Winner in 2003 and creator of the “Best Pizza in the Country” according to publications like Bon Appétit and Vogue, as well as many celebrity aficionados. Bianco is currently on a mission to bring his organically grown Bianco DiNapoli Tomatoes to food-lovers everywhere.
- Bianco won the James Beard Foundation Honor of Best Chef in America: Southwest in 2003.
- Pizzeria Bianco named best pizza in the country by Bon Appétit, Vogue, and Rachel Ray
- Chef Bianco also travels to London to check in on his restaurant Union Jacks – created with Jamie Oliver.
- His latest endeavor is Bianco DiNapoli Tomatoes. Their mission is to bring you the very best tomatoes that Mother Nature and human ingenuity has to offer. Organically grown, hand selected, grown and processed in California.
Bianco recently birthed a Pizzeria Bianco in Tucson, and a daughter!
Nobuo at Teeter House, 622 E Adams St, Phoenix
Fukuda is a 2007 James Beard Award Winner. Originally hailing from Tokyo, Japan, he’s been delighting Arizona foodies with innovative Japanese cuisine for the past 30 years. At Nobuo, he is famous for his omakase dining experiences, which leaves the menu selection up to the chef.
- Chef Nobuo first gained recognition for his East-meets-West approach at Restaurant Hapa and went on to win the James Beard Award in 2007 when he opened his restaurant Sea Saw.
- At Teeter House, in Heritage Square, Chef Nobuo comes full circle, elevating (and sometimes re-inventing) Japanese cuisine, while offering the same wildly inventive omakase for which he’s famous.
The historic Teeter House is located in the must-see Heritage Square.
Christopher’s and Crush Lounge, 2502 East Camelback Road #102, Phoenix
A longtime Arizona culinary staple, who brings experience from around the world to his kitchen.
- Gross was awarded the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in America: Southwest” in 1995.
- He has become a dominating figure in the culinary world, consulting regularly for Club Med, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Cruise Lines, Disney and others.
- Featured on panels with Jacques Pepin and Julia Child at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.
- He and his recipes have appeared in numerous cookbooks, including the Julia Child PBS TV series and cookbook “In the Kitchen with Master Chefs.”
- He was a featured chef for the James Beard Foundation Dinner of the Decade, “A Salute to Peter Kump”; and the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games.
Gross has cooked for at least 3 presidents, and many other global leaders.
Crudo, 3603 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix
Campbell’s Crudo has received national acclaim and was named “Chef of the Year” by the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame.
- Chef Cullen Campbell, of Crudo, has quickly made an indelible mark on the Arizona dining scene.
- Since opening In April 2012, Phoenix Magazine named Crudo the #1 new restaurant in Phoenix and food critic Howard Seftel of Gannett’s Arizona Republic gave the restaurant 4.5 stars out of 5.
- USA Today’s 10best.com wrote, ”Sushi sensibility meets traditional Italian flavors at Crudo, Phoenix’s hip Italian cafe specializing in sashimi-style seafood,” while the LA Business Journal raved, “Crudo is a culinary oasis in the Arizona desert.”
- In April, 2013, Chef Cullen was invited to cook dinner at the prestigious James Beard House in NYC as well as named “Chef of the Year” by the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame.
Campbell is set to debut another restaurant this Summer. Stay tuned!
POSH, 7167 E Rancho Vista Dr #111, Scottsdale
Hebert honed his skills at the world famous Zuni Cafe and Cafe Kati in San Francisco and opened Cafe California in Japan. Upon returning to Arizona, he opened POSH, known for its “improvisational cuisine.”
- Chef Joshua Hebert became enamored with food at an early age. And he already was cooking professionally while in high school at a corporate Italian restaurant. But he had his sights set on fine dining.
- He spent five years as a line cook and sous chef at Tarbell’s developing his skills.
- He opened POSH Restaurant on New Year’s Eve 2008, and continues to receive accolades for his innovative approach. The Arizona Republic has named POSH one of the top 10 gourmet restaurants in the Phoenix area.
Hebert is a certified sommelier, and serves on the Arizona Restaurant Association board of directors.
Virtù Honest Craft, located in Old Town Scottsdale’s Bespoke Inn, Cafe & Bicycles, 3701 Marshall Way
With a focus on Mediterranean cuisine, seafood and pastas, Osso’s Virtù was a James Beard Award semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant and named in the 20 “Best New Restaurants” in the U.S. by Esquire Magazine.
- Chef Gio Osso’s already acclaimed restaurant, Virtù, was named one of the top 20 “Best New Restaurants” in the U.S. by Esquire Magazine and also was a James Beard Award semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant.
- Virtù Honest Craft is tucked inside Old Town Scottsdale’s Bespoke Inn, where his menu features contemporary cuisine inspired by his Mediterranean roots and global influences.
- At Virtù, the Machiavellian term for achieving excellence, expect a menu that changes almost weekly, featuring house-made pastas, superb seafood, new Mediterranean creations and rustic favorites.
The boutique Bespoke Inn also houses a boutique bicycle shop.
Game Time (Event Info)
What: Eight’s Check, Please! Arizona Festival Click to link to see the full list of participating restaurants.
Where: CityScape, 1 E. Washington Street., Phoenix
When: Sunday, March 22, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tickets: $79 through March 21st; $89 day of event. Click to purchase online
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GRID BIKE SHARE RELEASES FIRST QUARTER PERFORMANCE METRICS
Nearly three months after debuting, Grid Bike Share released its first-quarter performance metrics. The numbers demonstrate the system is growing and quickly gaining popularity in Phoenix.
“I’m a proud member of Grid Bike Share and these statistics only reinforce what we expected when we started the program,” Mayor Greg Stanton said. “These bikes are not only a fun, quick way to get around town, but they show that Phoenix is a progressive city. Being multi-modal — having light rail, and walkable, bike-friendly streets — is key to attracting new businesses and employees.”
The system initially launched with 100 bicycles and 27 bike-share stations. Within the first quarter, the fleet of bicycles was more than tripled and the number of stations was almost doubled.
Grid Bike Share also continues to remain the largest system in the U.S.with smart-bike technology. This technology allows Phoenix residents and visitors to conveniently reserve and return a bike from public bike racks in addition to Grid stations. It also allows riders to track usage-time, mileage, carbon offset, calories burned and gas savings. During the first quarter, the system helped offset an estimated 11,700 poundsof carbon and its riders together burned 530,100 calories.
The system also registered 2,250 members. An estimated 11,000 trips and approximately 14,075 miles were traveled via the bright-green bicycles. The largest spike in trips occurred over the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day weekends and the bike-share stations located in downtown adjacent to the Phoenix Public Market and CityScape generated the most trips.
“The swift growth of Grid Bike Share is to be commended. It also clearly demonstrates the need to connect our multimodal city and strengthen our transportation infrastructure,” said Councilwoman Thelda Williams who chairs the City Council Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. “Bicycling, streets, buses and light rail are all components in a connected system that work together to efficiently get people where they need to be in a convenient way.”
Plans are underway to double the system in size to 500 bicycles and 50 stations by the next quarter. Grid Bike Share also will soon be expanding into Mesa and Tempe to make it a true regional transportation system.
As you probably know by now, this weekend is the 27th annual Art Detour event. It’s a free, two-day arts celebration in downtown. Started back in the late 80′s by a group of artists who invited people into their working art studios, it has grown and evolved over the years and now includes individual artist studios, pop up art spaces, galleries, and arts-friendly shops, restaurants and bars. Everyone throws out the welcome map. Many spaces are easily accessible along a route that is serviced by Artlink’s free circulating trolleys, however, there are wonderful spaces that take just a tad extra effort to find and we’re here to help you navigate your own “Detour” off the beaten path and into the Warehouse District.
CityScape, 1 E. Washington St.
CityScape is our jumping off point for this adventure. This pedestrian complex covers two blocks bounded by 1st Ave. and 1st St. between Washington and Jefferson. A central hub for downtown Phoenix, you’ll find restaurants, shops, open air seating, as well as an Artlink Information Hub stop staffed by friendly, knowledgeable Downtown Ambassadors, where you can pick up a Detour map and get any questions answered. The Warehouse District is just a few blocks south of CityScape, so you can either walk, or grab a GRID bike from one of the several GRID stations in and around CityScape. If you are a GRID member, you can reserve a bike online.
It is in the Warehouse District that Art Detour first got started, and there are well established artists who still call it home. Additionally, ASU recently moved their ASU School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts to the Warehouse District, bringing even more creative energy to this part of town.
First stop on your Warehouse Detour:
Once you’ve chosen whether to grab a bike or apply shoe leather for this adventure, head south on 1st Avenue or Central to Jackson Street (two blocks south of CityScape). Once you reach Jackson, head west to the IceHouse.
The IceHouse at 429 W. Jackson.
If you’ve never been to the IceHouse, you must go. Once active as a ice storage facility in the days before refrigeration, it houses various artist studios, along with exhibition and performance spaces. With its thick slabbed walls and concrete rooms, it is unlike any building you’ve ever been in and well worth the trip. Its large rooms, tall ceilings, and unique feel have made it a popular wedding destination.
After you’ve explored the nooks and crannies in the IceHouse, head back east to the Jackson Street Studios.
Jackson Street Studios, 15 E. Jackson, #206 – Linda Ingraham Mixed Media Photography
The Jackson Street Studios building has been home to many renowned Arizona artists, including Linda Ingraham, who has been in her second floor studio for more than twenty years. A critically acclaimed artist, her work includes evocative images of botanicals, figures and surreal landscapes, as well as art-inspired jewelry that Linda describes as “Bohemian Elegance.” Linda is warm and welcoming and her studio is full of beautiful finished work, as well as works in progress.
After you’ve explored Jackson Street Studios, hop on your bike for the next leg of your Warehouse Detour. If you’ve been walking up to this point, you may want to grab a bike from one of the nearby stations for this part of the adventure. Head south on 3rd Avenue to Grant Street and east to the Step Gallery/Grant St. Studios at the aforementioned ASU School of Art and Design.
Step Gallery/Grant St. Studios, 605 E. Grant
The Step Gallery serves as both an MFA thesis exhibition space and a proposal-driven, student run gallery. In the renovated warehouse building known to locals as the Levine Machine, this unique art space is worth exploring both inside and out.
Head back over to 3rd Street and cycle north back to CityScape, where you can hop a trolley to discover the rest of the Art Detour spaces. For the more intrepid urban explorer, use your Detour map to continue your bike adventure to Roosevelt Row to the north or over to the Grand Avenue arts district to the west.
Please note that both Roosevelt Row and Grand Avenue will be hosting their own neighborhood festivities during Detour this year: Roosevelt Row will be hosting the PAINT PHX block party, with music and a beer garden, on 5th Street on Saturday, and the No Festival Required outdoor screening of Stop Making Sense, on the west wall of Monorchid. On Sunday, Grand Avenue will present Detour de Grand, again featuring “bikes, beer and bands” along with open artist studios and galleries.
Whether you choose to connect the dots for a great Detour adventure on Saturday, Sunday or both days, there will be plenty of outdoor art adventures to discover at this weekend’s Art Detour 27.
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Third Annual Eight’s Check, Please! Arizona Festival Set for Sun., March 22, 2015, 11am-3pm
Show-Inspired Event Delivers Eclectic Collection of Independents all in one place
While the Emmy Award-winning television hit, Eight’s, Check, Please! Arizona continues unabated, its culinary cousin, Eight’s Check, Please! Arizona Festival continues on its own glorious path for a third straight year of pleasing fans of local, independent eateries, celebrated once again, Sun., March 22, 2015, 11am-3pm at CityScape in downtown Phoenix.
Check, Please! Arizona is one of the most popular locally produced programs on Eight, Arizona PBS. And Eight will again transform CityScape into a haven for food adventurists, a one-stop exploration of Arizona’s independent restaurant collective that ranges from every-day hamburger haunts to five-star gourmet establishments.
In its third year, the event is crowned with a gathering of Arizona’s James Beard Foundation award-winners, among them, Emmy Award-winning host of Eight’s Check, Please! Arizona Robert McGrath, plus Christopher Gross, Chris Bianco, and Nobuo Fukuda.
In addition, as Arizona’s culinary scene continues to advance in global sophistication, the 2015 version of the event will also showcase overlays by Arizona’s chef talent, including a second panel of top Valley chefs, in addition to a lineup of cooking demonstrations by local chefs on two stages, provided by SubZero/Wolf, and a tour of favorite wines by Chef Christopher Gross, including tastings and tips for food pairings.
The festival will also be adding several new restaurants to the lineup this year from Check, Please! Arizona’s five seasons on-air, as well as featuring many returning favorites including:
- Switch Restaurant & Wine Bar
- The Wild Thaiger
- Haus Murphy’s
- Frasher’s Steakhouse & Lounge
- The Salt Cellar
- Flavors of Louisiana
- Rancho Pinot
- Cowboy Ciao
- Jewel of the Crown
- Cucina Tagliani
- San Tan Brewing Company
- Thee Pitts “Again”
- Hob Nob
- Phoenix City Grille
- Red, White and Brew
- Betty’s Nosh
- Avanti Restaurant
- MacAlpine’s Restaurant & Soda Fountain
- TEXAZ Grill
Tickets are available at www.azpbs.org/checkplease/festival. General admission in advance is $79; at the door tickets are $89. Tickets include food, wine and beer sampling as well as panel discussions, cooking demonstrations and guest lectures. NOTE: Last year, the event sold out.
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Art d’Core Gala Celebrates Downtown Phoenix
Second Annual Event Features Mayor Stanton and Kicks Off Art Detour 27
The gala – hosted by nonprofit, Artlink – will highlight upcoming events in the spring arts season and kick off the 27th annual Art Detour, a two-day celebration of art in downtown.
“We’ve worked hard to create a downtown that’s vibrant, walkable and livable – a community where education, the arts and commerce thrive,” said Stanton. “Artlink has been on the forefront of activating this community in a way that enhances the urban experience and engages artists and entrepreneurs.”
“There are many events on the downtown Phoenix calendar, but the Gala is unique,” said David Krietor, Downtown Phoenix Inc. President and CEO. “The energy in that room is undeniable and a testament to how far downtown has come.”
In addition to serving as the formal kick-off of Art Detour 27 (March 7 – 8, 2015), the Art d’Core Gala will unveil three distinctive art pieces inspired by local neighborhoods along the Valley Metro Rail line.
Decorating the Crescent Ballroom will be three, 9’ banners created by Arizona artists representing the neighborhood character of the McDowell, Roosevelt and 12th Street station areas. The featured artists include Lucretia Torva (McDowell), Jeff Jones (Roosevelt) and Robert Jackson (12th Street). They worked with the local community to create these pieces, which will hang at light rail stations
“Visual and performing arts set the stage for this one annual party that celebrates our urban attitude,” said Catrina Kahler, Artlink Inc. Board President. “The event brings together a diverse gathering of artists, entrepreneurs, and the business community in a celebration of the downtown we love and support.”following the event. The effort was made possible through a Reinvent Phoenix grant and in participation with Valley Metro.
The program portion of the evening will be opened by a special performance by Phoenix Theatre. The stage design will feature a creative, virtual tour of downtown Phoenix through the lens of visual effects designer, Matt Castleberry. DJ Sean Watson will perform in the Ballroom following the program.
Attendees will also enjoy local food and drink specials created by Crescent Ballroom. The event is complimentary; RSVPs are required.
What: Art d’Core Gala
When: Saturday, February 21, 2015. Doors open at 6 p.m.; program begins at 7 p.m.
Where: Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. 2nd Ave., Phoenix
RSVP: artlinkphoenix.com #artlinkgala
Attire: Creative, formal attire is encouraged
The Art d’Core Gala is hosted by City of Phoenix Mayor’s Office, Downtown Phoenix, Inc. and Artlink Inc. and sponsored by APS, Phoenix Convention Center, Valley Metro, Ernst & Young LLP, City of Phoenix Aviation Department and Support Sky Harbor, with additional support from The Arizona Republic, CityScape, Arizona Commission on the Arts, Crescent Ballroom and Phoenix Ale Brewery.
For more information or to RSVP, visit artlinkphoenix.com.
Image courtesy of Christopher “BOATS” Oshana.