Check, Please! Arizona Festival at CityScape Was a Hot Hit; Celeb Chefs Informed and Entertained

Check Plz -- long shot crowd.jpg
Channel 8 hosted its first-ever Check, Please! Arizona Festival at CityScape on Sunday and despite the ridiculous temperatures (100 degrees, but it felt hotter), everybody seemed to have a good time.

See also:
-- Check, Please! Arizona Festival at CityScape, 04/28/13 (Slideshow)
-- Chef Kevin Binkley a Finalist for James Beard Award
-- Chris Bianco Opens Full-Blown Pizzeria Bianco at Town & Country

Hosted by Chef Robert McGrath, Check, Please!, which debuted in 2010 and features local restaurants reviewed by citizen critics, is Channel 8's most popular program. So why not build a food festival around the Arizona restaurants featured on the show? It could've been such a dud (cynical me worried it would be) but miraculously the event came off remarkably well -- although I'd definitely recommend a few changes for next year.

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Oysters from Tarbell's
Most of the festival took place right on the street. Central Avenue -- which bisects the two monolithic sections of CityScape -- was blocked off between Washington and Jefferson, and food booths lined both sides of the street from one end to the other. Twenty-two restaurants participated, including America's Taco Shop, Cornish Pasty Co., Coup Des Tartes, Durant's, Four Peaks (who came with beer! Yay!), MacAlpine's Soda Fountain, and Thee Pitt's Again. Chef-driven restaurants were represented by Amuse Bouche, Eddie's House, Lon's at the Hermosa, Petite Maison, Tarbell's, and Vogue Bistro.
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Chicken liver mousse at Petite Maison

It was an interesting and unusual mash-up -- nothing like the inbred exclusivity of Devoured (populated by air-kissing foodies who know each other) and nothing like the generic, for-the-masses boredom of the Great Arizona Picnic at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival. I was surprised to find that I loved splitting my time and taste buds between oysters on the half shell at Tarbell's and a hot dog at Pittsburgh Willy's.
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Tacos al pastor at America's Taco Shop

I didn't try everything (being way more interested in the seminars, and I'll get to that in a minute), but I can tell you what I liked of the eight or nine things I did eat: the juicy-spicy barbecued hot link at Mrs. White's, the meat loaf slider on a brioche bun with smoked bacon, onion aioli and roasted tomato glaze at Amuse Bouche and the buttermilk pie (a crunchy-creamy perfect-size bite) at Phoenix City Grille. Everything I tried was good, but I wanted seconds of these three.

Location Info



1 E. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe

808 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Amuse Bouche Gourmet Bistro & Catering

17058 W. Bell Road, Surprise, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Phoenix City Grille

5816 N. 16th St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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Chow Bella gives solid coverage to the food scene, thanks for that. Too bad you had to take a cheap shot at the Great Arizona Picnic and the Scottsdale Culinary Festival -- our week of events rivals any culinary experience, and the proceeds go to charity -- to the tune of $3.5 million and counting since '02. Our weekend Picnic is one of 12 events, and our GAP chef roster (McGrath won our AZ Culinary Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award and judged at our Burger Battle) will light your grill -- Payton Curry, Iron Chef Jose Garces, Brian Malarkey to name a few. We're a true charity, and our 50 members volunteer all year to produce a fine week of events for Arizona arts charities -- our Tiki Hideway, Beer Garden, chef demos, Skyy Bar, Tequila Deck, local bands, and awesome restaurants don't bore many. Long live the Scottsdale Culinary Festival!


@office69 Scottsdale Culinary Fest sucks.  If you didn't throw it, you might think the same thing

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