The end of October means cooling desert air countered by the heating up of the local culinary scene with the 9th annual Tucson Culinary Festival.
This is your chance to see (and taste) first-hand why the local independent restaurants that comprise Tucson Originals take such fierce pride in giving people here non-chain dining choices.
This year’s Oct.27-30 festival revolves around margaritas, fine wines and barbecue served up by the 50 restaurants that belong to Tucson Originals, the restaurant organization that stages the event.
“We get to showcase every member and what they can do,” Tucson Originals President Pat Connors said. “It’s a destination weekend. People will be coming from out of town to make this event.”
Tucson Originals has mixed the salad up a bit for this year’s incarnation of their Tucson Culinary Festival. Some servings will be for families and others are adults only.
Family friendly is the theme of the closing event on Oct. 30, the Copper Chef Challenge and Barbecue at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. This pits defending Copper Chef Addam Buzzalini, executive chef at Maynards Kitchen, against Ryan Clark, executive chef at Lodge on the Desert.
“It’s our version of Iron Chef,” Connors said.
Canyon del Oro High School students will assist both chefs and will teach children the fine art of cupcake decorating. Junior chefs from other culinary programs will host competitions and demonstrations.
Food booths will allow people to sample cuisine from Originals restaurants.
It’s all adults for the festival opener, the Margarita World Championship on Oct. 27 at Maynards Market & Kitchen and for the Reserve and Grand Tasting back at Loews on Oct. 29.
“Fourteen bartenders will be making margaritas. Taste it and vote. There will be judges’ awards and people’s choice,” Connors said.
And yes, the Reserve and Grand Tasting is all about wine. The one-hour Reserve tasting features a small selection of premiere wines presented by the winemakers, and then follows the Grand Tasting with many more wines to sip.
Friday, Oct. 28, will be festivalgoer’s choice all over town. Organizers are calling the day “An ‘Originals’ Adventure.” The adventure is you choose your own Originals restaurant and go out to dinner or take part in the Dine Around and do a restaurant crawl.
“This is the first time we’re doing this,” Connors said. “Being involved in this sort of event takes a lot of work and a lot of food goes out the door. Let’s give the restaurants a break. Let’s send people to them for one evening. Everybody’s going to be doing something unique for that evening.”
Proceeds from the Tucson Culinary Festival will benefit Arizona’s Children Association, Diamond Children’s Medical Center and New Beginnings for Women and Children.
1. Coralie Satta - Chef/Owner,Ghini’s French Caffe
2. Ramiro Scavo, Executive Chef & Owner; Kelly Hadd, Owner - Pasco Kitchen & Lounge
3. Maria Mazon - Chef/Owner, Boca Tacos & Tequila
4. Ryan Clark - Executive Chef, Lodge on the Desert
5. Eric & Josh Mussman - Chef/Owners, Vero Amore
Photos: Alex Landeen