2010 Taste of Chandler Culinary Festival Re-cap
On Saturday, October 2nd, PhoenixBites had the opportunity to attend the 2010 Taste of Chandler Culinary Festival. This event was advertised as “a gourmet food and wine tasting event that features Chandler’s finest. The idea and concepts have been created to showcase local businesses, local restaurants, benefiting local charities, and maintaining community involvement and outreach.”
Upon arrival we were too busy becoming intoxicated by the decadent smells in the air to be bothered by the ominous clouds closing in on the mostly open-air event. After a quick walk around to survey the layout, we immediately made a game plan – slow & steady! One of the trickiest aspects of reviewing this event was the large number of restaurants participating. When you couple that with the generous “tasting” portions being doled out, it looked a little daunting, but we were working so we soldiered through.
Our 2010 Taste of Chandler Culinary Festival experiences:
This was our first stop, and what a way to start! We were welcomed with 2 types of Gourmet Soft Tacos. Amy enjoyed the Portobello Pablano taco and I the delicious Shrimp taco. Both items were peppered with onions, bacon and avocado. I thoroughly enjoyed my taco and found that the bacon was a lovely accompaniment.
Whole Foods featuring Desert Smoke BBQ
Here, we were greeted by WonderChef Tony Morales, the creator of Desert Smoke BBQ. One of the greatest treats of Taste was that many of the restaurant tables were being led by the managers and/or head chefs. This was such a personal touch, being able to speak directly with these individuals provided a great representation of the restaurants. Chef Tony was by far the leader in this category. He was friendly, informative and actually quite funny. He was personally serving up Smoked Turkey Sliders, nestled on a small mound of Whole Foods Coleslaw and a bakery fresh bun. The turkey had been smoked for 6 hours and was delicately dressed with Chef Tony’s own Sweet and Spicy BBQ sauce. It was nothing short of delicious! We were also served a “shot” of Pumpkin Cider, which was rich, spicy and brought back childhood memories of playing in fallen leaves.
The friendly crew served up a full plate of 2 kinds of hummus (regular and jalapeño cilantro), pita triangles, chicken and a baklava roll. I feel compelled to state that Pita Jungle is a personal favorite of mine and I was overjoyed by the variety of items they were offering. I had not previously tried their Jalapeño Cilantro Hummus, but I can guarantee that it will be on my plate the next time I visit one of their locations.
Right about this time the aforementioned ominous sky opened up amidst some pretty intense winds so we sought shelter in the swanky VIP tent. It was painstakingly decorated with glass votives, tablecloths and roses on each table. There was a steady stream of cooking demonstrations by instructors from SCI’s Le Cordon Bleu as well as a few restaurants serving up their delicacies.
The Living Room
Here we were offered up 3 types of Bruchetta. We opted for the traditional. It was fantastic noting that the Balsamic Vinegar drizzle added that little something that put it over the top.
Coach & Willies
Serving up their Signature Lobster Bisque, and I have to say I have found my new winter comfort food. The bisque displayed a very subtle kick that was surprising and most welcome. I contemplated sneaking back for seconds!!
I was so excited to try this food after seeing them on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. We were actually served by Chef and owner Eve Collins, that felt fancy. We received a layered combination of Cuban Black Beans, Jerk Fried Rice and Machaca. The way the dish was presented complimented the flavor profiles nicely. There was a very light hint of kick that worked well with the cilantro infused rice.
As the rain let up we ventured back out to the larger food tents.
These folks drew in diners by having a belly dancer performing in front of their table. There we were served a stuffed pepper, pita bread, a gyro bite, Greek salad and spicy hummus. The hummus was just spicy enough to not be overwhelming and the generous gyro bite was outstanding.
I have struggled with what to say about this table. I, personally, did not have a positive experience with the sushi I was served. I would like to say that I am sure that the experience I had is not indicative of the quality of products Siracha puts out. I am tentative, but certainly willing to give them another shot.
Shimogamo provided such a delicious treat with their Spicy Tuna Roll, Albacore Sushi and Panko roll. Not to mention the fact that two of the servers were dressed in full Japanese attire and looked lovely.
Von Hanson Meats & Spirits
Von Hanson Meats & Spirits were serving their in-house smoked sausages. We tried the Smoked Maple Sausage and it tasted just like a Sunday morning!
The Urban Tea Loft
We were immediately greeted by Glynis and Eric LeGrand, the purveyors of the restaurant. They were so friendly and full of information, from the teas they have, their hour and their special Sunday brunches. I cannot wait to attend one of their brunches, they made it sound amazing. We had their house-made vanilla and cinnamon gelato after being drawn in by their Lavender infused Lemonade which was ridiculously good. By the time we had gotten to their tent they had ran out of most everything, which has to be a testament to how good the food was. Earlier they were serving Tea Braised Slow Roasted Pork with Collard Greens and Mac & Cheese.
Of course, with their being so many restaurants featured at the even, we were not able to sample all their wares but here is what the remaining restaurants were dishing out:
AJ’s Café at the Crowne Plaza San Marcos Golf Resort served Rigatoni di Mare, Chicken & Sausage Alfredo with Linguini, Meatballs Penne pasta with Marinara.
Angel Sweet Gelato served up Super Dark Chocolate, Mango, Mix Berry, Lemon, Mint and Coffee Gelato.
Cathy’s Rum Cake Caterers had samples of their Fall Collection.
Chandler BBQ Co. was to serve their Signature Pulled Pork Sandwich, Beef Brisket and Baby Back Ribs – though I have to say we checked out their tent after the initial rain and wind storm and there was no one there.
D’Vine Wine Bar & Bistro was present and serving Gourmet Stuffed Mushrooms, Arugula Salad paired with Marham Chardonnay and Kenwood Pinot Noir.
El Zocalo featured their Ceviche.
Floridino’s Pizza and Pasta served Pizza Muffins and Gourmet White Pizza Muffins.
The Hungry Monk provided Drumstick in a Bourbon Sauce.
In Pockets was my last treat of the night and I had a decadent Pink Champagne cupcake. Amy opted for the delicious Red Velvet Cupcake. They also had Lemon and Chocolate Ganache flavors.
Kiley’s Sports Grill had Honey and Salt & Pepper Wings.
Kokopelli Winery & Bistro were serving their Kokopelli wines.
La Fonda Mexican Restaurant provided Mini Chicken and Beef Chimichangas with Red, Green and Fundido Sauce.
Latitude Eight Thai Grill served Spring Rolls and Thai Iced Tea.
Majerle’s Sports Grill provided Chili Pepper Garlic Boneless Wings and Brownie Sundaes.
Paletas Betty brought out Paletas Frozen Ice Pops.
Pittsburgh Willy’s had Gourmet Hot Dogs.
San Tan Brewing Co. brought out Conchinita Pork Pibil topped with Chopped Onions and Fresh Cilantro served with a Flour Tortilla, Rice and Beans.
Serrano’s Mexican Resturants had Beef and Chicken Chimis, Guacamole, Sour Cream with Salsa and Chips.
Tasti D Lite provided Soft served French Vanilla Frozen Yogurt with their Signature Rainbow Sprinkles.
All in all, this was an incredible event, with so many delicious items to sample, and an incredible way to familiarize ones self with great local eateries. We are both so thankful to have been able to be a part of the 2010 Taste of Chandler and are marking the 2011 Taste on our calendars!