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Mar 3, 2009 08:23 AM

West of Western 2009

I'm surprised no one has brought up West of Western yet. I've never been, and am flinching a bit at the $75 price tag for 1 day of food and wine. Is it worth it? The food only tickets are $67, so it seems the food and wine is a better value. Any tips on what day, or what time to go to avoid lines but have the best experience?

List of Chefs attending:

Chef Carolyn Ellis
Arcadia Farms
Chef Brandon Crouser
Chef Joshua Riesner
Atlas Bistro
Chef Marc Hennessy
BLT Steak, Camelback Inn
Dwayne Allen
The Breadfruit

The Clarendon Hotel
Chef Brian Peterson
Chef Peyton Curry
Chef Nathan Crouser
District, Sheraton Phoenix Downtown
Master Baker Judy Palmer
Ganache This!
Chef Steven Zimmerman
ICON, Wyndham Phoenix
Chef Victor Casanova
Il Terrazzo, The Phoenician
Chef Michael O'Dowd
Kai, Sheraton Wild Horse Pass
Chef Lisa Giungo
Lisa G Cafe Wine Bar
Chef Forest Hamrick
LV Bistro, Fairmont Scottsdale
Chef Smail Yaakoubi
Meritage, JW Marriott Desert Ridge
Chef Deborah Knight
Chad Withycombe
Mucho Gusto
Chef Clint Woods
Olive & Ivy
Chef Patrick Peeters
Peeters Belgian Pastries & Chocolates
Chef Paul Carter
Master Baker Ben Hershberger
The Phoenician
Chef Carlos Marquez
Pinata's Mexican Restaurant
Chef Anthony DeMuro
Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resorts
Chef Joshua Herbert
Chef Claudio Urciuoli
Prado, Montelucia Resort & Spa
Chef Greg LaPrad
Master Baker Jeffery Yankellow
Simply Bread
Chef Aaron May
Sol y Sombra Spanish Kitchen & Lounge
Chef James Siao
Taggia, Firesky Resort
Chef Mel Mecinas
Talavera, Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale
Chef James Porter
Tapino Kitchen & Wine Bar
Chef Lionel Geuskens
Trente-Cinq 35
Chef Michael Stebner
True Food Kitchen
Chef John Sharpe
The Turquoise Room
Chef Brian Archibald
Tuscany, JW Marriott Desert Ridge
Chef Olashawn Hasadinratana
The Wild Thaiger

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  1. Based on my experience last year, I think the best way to avoid long lines and to maximize the number of tastes is to get there relatively early in the session, say around noon. The lines tend to grow as the day goes on and some exhibitors might start to run out of food before the end of the day. On the flip side, I'd advise not getting there too early, because some of the vendors might not be completely set up at the official start time.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hohokam

      Will you be attending this year?

      1. re: yamalam

        I thought I was, but it looks like a last-minute change in travel plans might keep me away this year.

    2. Ah, thanks for posting the list of attending chefs. I ran down it, and I can remember clear as day which ones were gracious and enthusiastic, chatting up fans, handing out tips and produce, and joshing around with their staffs; and which ones behaved as if this were the last place on earth they'd like to be. My restaurant to-do list changed *remarkably* after my day at the festival last year. So my tip would be -- go on the day that has the chefs you're most interested in. Some of them will disappoint you, but some of them may make a great impression.

      I thought it was well worth it. We will probably skip this year, and I'm sad about it.

      Further advice: if you do food + wine, pace yourself. Hit a few food booths and then go in and try a few wines. Get some more food and more wine and then spend an hour looking around the museum. Get more food and a dash of wine, or if you're the DD, start sobering up before the drive home.

      1. We had a nice time last year, although experienced some of the disappointments of booths empty/chefs running out of food; we went Sunday afternoon. I also thought it was a bit awkward that you could only drink wine inside, while the food was served in the garden, so you couldn't stroll and sample the food with a glass of wine to accompany (I overheard a few chefs question this too). I did enjoy the free wine seminars, and the silent auction. I was surprised that not many people bid, but I won a couple of great prizes (a gift certificate to Quiessence, and a huge basket of local goodies from the downtown farmer's market). We have some guests visiting from Boston that week, so we won't be able to make it this year.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Rubee

          I am one of the volunteers who work the event every year. It is unfortunate about the wine/food separation, but we've got to comply with the Phoenix Art Museum's rules. They do, first and foremost, want to keep their art, grounds, etc. in good shape. They had a bunch of rules, but have been very gracious hosts. Any comments on 2009? We feel we did a better job this year than last. 2008 was the first year held at the Phx Art Museum.

          1. re: tamalyn

            actually its a city of phoenix thing. it was the same way, food on one side, wine the other, when west of western was at the arizona center

            1. re: winedubar

              I am pretty sure the separation of food and wine was an art gallery rule... I just attended Forks & Corks in the Esplanade in PHX a couple weeks ago. They had food and wine at each booth....THAT was convenient. :)

            2. re: tamalyn

              I had a fantastic time! Loved everything and there was more than enough food and wine to go arround... seemed most restaurants were closing up arnd 3:30 on Sunday, I thought it went till 4?

              Great time though

              1. re: drewb123

                Glad to hear you had fun!! we hoped we were covering most of our little goofs without anyone noticing. :) It's tough for the restaurant folks to know how much food to bring. They do run out, on occasion. The festival was supposed to end at 4 pm, but people do start packing it in early if they've run out. Last pour in the wine table was scheduled for 3:30.

          2. As it turned out, I couldn't make it this year.

            I was just perusing Howard Seftel's recap, and was pleased to read that fewer exhibitors phoned it in this year. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who thought that Mark Tarbell's apple balls (Seftel says they were chocolate dipped; I remember caramel) made for a cringeworthy contribution, especially given the hoopla at the time over his then-recent Iron Chef America victory.

            I hope I can make it next year and that the upward trajectory continues.

            1. This was our 4th year attending, and we really enjoy the event. Its much more fun (although also costly) than say the Scottsdale food festival. Each booth was from a great restaurant - Taco Bell is not an exhibitor :) I also agree with getting there early - a bit after opening so everything is up and running but no long lines. The location at the art museum is great since you can take a break from the food and go inside to see the art. (When the event was at the AZ center, we went to see a movie in the middle..)