Scottsdale Culinary Festival's Best of the Fest 2014: Beautiful Tablescapes, Memorable Food

Categories: Events

Lauren Saria
Chef Matt Carter of Zinc Bistro prepared a smoked veal New York with black truffle and grilled baby corn.
The weeklong Scottsdale Culinary Fest came to an extravagant end last night at the annual Best of the Fest dinner held at the Scottsdale Hyatt Regency. The event brought out eight of the Valley's top chefs who each prepared a coursed dinner for two tables of guests. It's a sort of unofficial competition between the restaurants to put together impressive and elaborate tablescapes that either reflect the restaurant or the chef's menu of the night.

See also: 10 Best Culinary Events in Metro Phoenix

Lauren Saria
Our favorite tables came courtesy of Wright's at the Biltmore.
We were assigned to dine at one of the tables assigned to chef Matt Carter of The Mission, Zinc Bistro, and The House Brasserie. For the evening Carter represented Zinc Bistro, the stylish French restaurant located at Keirland Commons in Scottsdale. Carter's six course dinner was paired with an impressive lineup of wines from O'Connell Family Wines.

Of all the Scottsdale Culinary Festival events, Best of the Fest is a hands-down favorite. Unlike some of the other festival events, which offer plenty of entertainment and fun but lose points on quality of the food, this dinner focuses on the chefs, the wine, and still promises a memorable time. The community-style tables mean you're almost guaranteed to meet new people while you share a delicious meal.

Carter's menu started with a dish of foie royal, a creamy mousse of foe gras, topped with frais de bois (wild strawberries), fried capers, strawberry aigre doux, and crispy shallots. The combination of rich foie, salty shallots, and sweet strawberries played perfectly against the oatmeal crisp. It was a playful way to start the meal, albeit also a slightly complicated one.

Lauren Saria
Carter's second course of foie royal.

Location Info


Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch

7500 E. Doubletree Ranch Road, Scottsdale, AZ

Category: General

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I think a good column would ask if we are overloaded with food festivals. For the past eight years my girlfriend (now wife) and I have gone to the Great Arizona Picnic as part of the Scottsdale Culinary Festival. Always a good time, great food and just hours of fun and sun with friends. This year was really sad. Seemed like far fewer restaurants overall and a bunch of non-festival worthy entrants like Port of Subs, Rubio's and a couple of other odd fits. Even Roka Akor phoned it in with a bratwurst (???) and they are the kings of the food festival! The vibe was definitely not there this year. I attribute it to the fact there is a food event every other weekend and events like this lose their steam as the attending public and restaurants just aren't that excited.. Between Devoured, the Taco Festival and BBQ Festival it's hard to get excited for the picnic at Scottsdale Culinary festival these days. Taking breaks to check out the Masters at Blue Moose is definitely a fun tradition, but I think this one needs a reboot for next year.

Never look a gift horse in the mouth could also mean never turn away the money of a sponsoring guest....but drink is as important as food at these events so it might be time to put Barefoot wines out to pasture. If it's the only wine sold by my neighborhood get it.

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