Spring in Arizona brings plenty of all-star players to the desert, but they aren’t all found on a baseball diamond. Some of them are found in the kitchens of Arizona’s best restaurants and this weekend, you’ll find an all-star lineup of the Valley’s top chefs at Eight’s Check, Please! Arizona Festival at CityScape in downtown Phoenix.
Based on Eight’s award-winning, locally-produced dining show hosted by Chef Robert McGrath, the event will feature an impressive roster of Arizona’s culinary talent, along with samples from more than 25 local restaurants.
Get the stats on the all-star team of chefs slated to appear:
McGrath takes the manager’s role at the event, hosting the Culinary Leadership and James Beard Award Winners panel discussions.
Check, Please! Arizona. Eight, Arizona PBS’s #1 most popular program airs Thursdays and Saturdays.
- Nominated five times by The James Beard Foundation as “Best Chef in America: Southwest” HE WON THE HONOR in 2001.
- Created the Roaring Fork.
- Touted in Food & Wine as one of the Ten Best Chefs in America.
- Author of the popular cookbook, American Western Cooking from the Roaring Fork.
- Chef de cuisine at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin; executive chef of the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston; and chef/owner of Sierra Grill in Houston, and Brio Vista in Austin.
McGrath won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame in 2013.
Pizzeria Bianco, Bar Bianco and Pane Bianco locally; Union Jack’s in London
A James Beard Award-Winner in 2003 and creator of the “Best Pizza in the Country” according to publications like Bon Appétit and Vogue, as well as many celebrity aficionados. Bianco is currently on a mission to bring his organically grown Bianco DiNapoli Tomatoes to food-lovers everywhere.
- Bianco won the James Beard Foundation Honor of Best Chef in America: Southwest in 2003.
- Pizzeria Bianco named best pizza in the country by Bon Appétit, Vogue, and Rachel Ray
- Chef Bianco also travels to London to check in on his restaurant Union Jacks – created with Jamie Oliver.
- His latest endeavor is Bianco DiNapoli Tomatoes. Their mission is to bring you the very best tomatoes that Mother Nature and human ingenuity has to offer. Organically grown, hand selected, grown and processed in California.
Bianco recently birthed a Pizzeria Bianco in Tucson, and a daughter!
Nobuo at Teeter House, 622 E Adams St, Phoenix
Fukuda is a 2007 James Beard Award Winner. Originally hailing from Tokyo, Japan, he’s been delighting Arizona foodies with innovative Japanese cuisine for the past 30 years. At Nobuo, he is famous for his omakase dining experiences, which leaves the menu selection up to the chef.
- Chef Nobuo first gained recognition for his East-meets-West approach at Restaurant Hapa and went on to win the James Beard Award in 2007 when he opened his restaurant Sea Saw.
- At Teeter House, in Heritage Square, Chef Nobuo comes full circle, elevating (and sometimes re-inventing) Japanese cuisine, while offering the same wildly inventive omakase for which he’s famous.
The historic Teeter House is located in the must-see Heritage Square.
Christopher’s and Crush Lounge, 2502 East Camelback Road #102, Phoenix
A longtime Arizona culinary staple, who brings experience from around the world to his kitchen.
- Gross was awarded the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in America: Southwest” in 1995.
- He has become a dominating figure in the culinary world, consulting regularly for Club Med, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Cruise Lines, Disney and others.
- Featured on panels with Jacques Pepin and Julia Child at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.
- He and his recipes have appeared in numerous cookbooks, including the Julia Child PBS TV series and cookbook “In the Kitchen with Master Chefs.”
- He was a featured chef for the James Beard Foundation Dinner of the Decade, “A Salute to Peter Kump”; and the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games.
Gross has cooked for at least 3 presidents, and many other global leaders.
Crudo, 3603 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix
Campbell’s Crudo has received national acclaim and was named “Chef of the Year” by the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame.
- Chef Cullen Campbell, of Crudo, has quickly made an indelible mark on the Arizona dining scene.
- Since opening In April 2012, Phoenix Magazine named Crudo the #1 new restaurant in Phoenix and food critic Howard Seftel of Gannett’s Arizona Republic gave the restaurant 4.5 stars out of 5.
- USA Today’s 10best.com wrote, “Sushi sensibility meets traditional Italian flavors at Crudo, Phoenix’s hip Italian cafe specializing in sashimi-style seafood,” while the LA Business Journal raved, “Crudo is a culinary oasis in the Arizona desert.”
- In April, 2013, Chef Cullen was invited to cook dinner at the prestigious James Beard House in NYC as well as named “Chef of the Year” by the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame.
Campbell is set to debut another restaurant this Summer. Stay tuned!
POSH, 7167 E Rancho Vista Dr #111, Scottsdale
Hebert honed his skills at the world famous Zuni Cafe and Cafe Kati in San Francisco and opened Cafe California in Japan. Upon returning to Arizona, he opened POSH, known for its “improvisational cuisine.”
- Chef Joshua Hebert became enamored with food at an early age. And he already was cooking professionally while in high school at a corporate Italian restaurant. But he had his sights set on fine dining.
- He spent five years as a line cook and sous chef at Tarbell’s developing his skills.
- He opened POSH Restaurant on New Year’s Eve 2008, and continues to receive accolades for his innovative approach. The Arizona Republic has named POSH one of the top 10 gourmet restaurants in the Phoenix area.
Hebert is a certified sommelier, and serves on the Arizona Restaurant Association board of directors.
Virtù Honest Craft, located in Old Town Scottsdale’s Bespoke Inn, Cafe & Bicycles, 3701 Marshall Way
With a focus on Mediterranean cuisine, seafood and pastas, Osso’s Virtù was a James Beard Award semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant and named in the 20 “Best New Restaurants” in the U.S. by Esquire Magazine.
- Chef Gio Osso’s already acclaimed restaurant, Virtù, was named one of the top 20 “Best New Restaurants” in the U.S. by Esquire Magazine and also was a James Beard Award semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant.
- Virtù Honest Craft is tucked inside Old Town Scottsdale’s Bespoke Inn, where his menu features contemporary cuisine inspired by his Mediterranean roots and global influences.
- At Virtù, the Machiavellian term for achieving excellence, expect a menu that changes almost weekly, featuring house-made pastas, superb seafood, new Mediterranean creations and rustic favorites.
The boutique Bespoke Inn also houses a boutique bicycle shop.
Game Time (Event Info)
What: Eight’s Check, Please! Arizona Festival Click to link to see the full list of participating restaurants.
Where: CityScape, 1 E. Washington Street., Phoenix
When: Sunday, March 22, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tickets: $79 through March 21st; $89 day of event. Click to purchase online
As an independent chronicler of all things downtown, DPJ takes a comprehensive approach to covering the urban living movement in Phoenix and, with this Conversation series, spotlighting the people who make it move.
“Customers are seeing that things are happening quickly here”
Steve Moore, the President & CEO of Visit Phoenix (formerly known as the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau) has spent his career luring convention business to his city. After 14 years at the helm of the convention business in San Antonio he was recruited to Phoenix in March of 2002 and has spent the last 13 years watching the explosion of growth in our downtown. He brings a unique perspective to the “future of downtown” conversations around the DPI board table in that he is uniquely focused on customers who are, for the most part, not from Arizona, and not familiar with what he calls “the new city” that is Phoenix.
Visit Phoenix is an umbrella organization for hotels looking to fill rooms and their target customers are convention and conference planners of all kinds. The competition includes cities that many planners are familiar with: Las Vegas, San Diego, Denver, Seattle, Salt Lake City and so on. Up until the last few years, Phoenix has largely been perceived as a resort destination and the convention center and hotel capacity in downtown was not competitive .
“Conventioneers like seeing young people downtown; it tells them that there’s a future here and maybe we should come back.”
My how things have changed! As Moore sees it, the “new downtown” is only about six years old because, in that short period of time, downtown has experienced a radical transformation. “There was a cacophony of activity that opened pretty close to the same time,” said Moore referring to the expanded convention center; hotel construction; the growth of a multi-faceted downtown research and higher education campus that includes ASU, U of A, and TGen; and the completion of light rail construction through the core that all came to fruition in and around 2009. “Cities don’t usually move that quickly,” said Moore. “People don’t mess around in Phoenix.” Looking out of his sixth floor conference room window on Van Buren and 5th Street he nods and says, “I see so much difference in just 12 – 13 years, sitting in my office and just looking out at what’s changed.”
And why is Downtown Phoenix Inc. an important organization to Moore? For Moore the impact of DPI is in its ability to get everyone in the same room to have ongoing dialogue about the future of the city, and the tremendous job DPI has done in activating downtown. Additionally, he sees tremendous benefit in having weekly communications from David Krietor and his team. Receiving reliable, aggregated information on everything happening in downtown is an important tool for Visit Phoenix to push out key and timely information to their clients and visitors to their site. He noted that many of the people who use the Visit Phoenix site are locals researching fun things to do with visiting relatives and friends, in addition to the meeting planners who are his target customers.
So what’s his strategy for selling our “new downtown” and raising awareness that Phoenix is a uniquely convention location? “It’s simple,” says Moore. “Seeing is believing. We need to get our customers here. They need to walk downtown and see it first-hand.”According to Moore, it’s all about orienting an audience that doesn’t live here.” Which means, in addition to the outsiders that he’s courting as clients, the millions of people who live in Phoenix and have not yet experienced the new downtown.
“Twelve years ago, I didn’t have to stop for people crossing the street. Now I have to stop all the time, and I love it.”
He wants to show prospective clients that downtown is “approximate, and like a campus with real nice ‘dorms’ (the hotels) across the street.” He is keen on having them walk at street level so they become more aware of their senses. “Convention planners are not staying inside as much as they used to,” says Moore. “Instead of hosting a golf or tennis tournament, convention planners are looking for social responsibility opportunities for their attendees. They are more focused on giving back to the communities who host them.” And Moore wants that street level experience to stimulate their senses and convey a real sense of place. And he also notes that as a part of the downtown campus experience, “conventioneers like seeing young people downtown; it tells them that there’s a future here and maybe we should come back.”
For Moore and his clients, our downtown is one of our city’s largest lobbies. “We see each other, we are out walking the streets. We want to make visitors aware of their senses when they leave the convention center and walk out on our streets.” He laughs, saying “Twelve years ago, I didn’t have to stop for people crossing the street. Now I have to stop all the time, and I love it.”
As for the specific challenges ahead for downtown and Visit Phoenix? “More hotel rooms,” says Moore. “That, and we need to have marketing resources in place for quite a while.” He is clearly confident about his ability to sell Phoenix as a conference destination well into the future, noting that “customers are seeing that things are happening quickly here – this is a business climate that does move forward and a very pro business community.”
The mural in the above image was painted by El Moises
As you probably know by now, this weekend is the 27th annual Art Detour event. It’s a free, two-day arts celebration in downtown. Started back in the late 80’s by a group of artists who invited people into their working art studios, it has grown and evolved over the years and now includes individual artist studios, pop up art spaces, galleries, and arts-friendly shops, restaurants and bars. Everyone throws out the welcome map. Many spaces are easily accessible along a route that is serviced by Artlink’s free circulating trolleys, however, there are wonderful spaces that take just a tad extra effort to find and we’re here to help you navigate your own “Detour” off the beaten path and into the Warehouse District.
CityScape, 1 E. Washington St.
CityScape is our jumping off point for this adventure. This pedestrian complex covers two blocks bounded by 1st Ave. and 1st St. between Washington and Jefferson. A central hub for downtown Phoenix, you’ll find restaurants, shops, open air seating, as well as an Artlink Information Hub stop staffed by friendly, knowledgeable Downtown Ambassadors, where you can pick up a Detour map and get any questions answered. The Warehouse District is just a few blocks south of CityScape, so you can either walk, or grab a GRID bike from one of the several GRID stations in and around CityScape. If you are a GRID member, you can reserve a bike online.
It is in the Warehouse District that Art Detour first got started, and there are well established artists who still call it home. Additionally, ASU recently moved their ASU School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts to the Warehouse District, bringing even more creative energy to this part of town.
First stop on your Warehouse Detour:
Once you’ve chosen whether to grab a bike or apply shoe leather for this adventure, head south on 1st Avenue or Central to Jackson Street (two blocks south of CityScape). Once you reach Jackson, head west to the IceHouse.
The IceHouse at 429 W. Jackson.
If you’ve never been to the IceHouse, you must go. Once active as a ice storage facility in the days before refrigeration, it houses various artist studios, along with exhibition and performance spaces. With its thick slabbed walls and concrete rooms, it is unlike any building you’ve ever been in and well worth the trip. Its large rooms, tall ceilings, and unique feel have made it a popular wedding destination.
After you’ve explored the nooks and crannies in the IceHouse, head back east to the Jackson Street Studios.
Jackson Street Studios, 15 E. Jackson, #206 – Linda Ingraham Mixed Media Photography
The Jackson Street Studios building has been home to many renowned Arizona artists, including Linda Ingraham, who has been in her second floor studio for more than twenty years. A critically acclaimed artist, her work includes evocative images of botanicals, figures and surreal landscapes, as well as art-inspired jewelry that Linda describes as “Bohemian Elegance.” Linda is warm and welcoming and her studio is full of beautiful finished work, as well as works in progress.
After you’ve explored Jackson Street Studios, hop on your bike for the next leg of your Warehouse Detour. If you’ve been walking up to this point, you may want to grab a bike from one of the nearby stations for this part of the adventure. Head south on 3rd Avenue to Grant Street and east to the Step Gallery/Grant St. Studios at the aforementioned ASU School of Art and Design.
Step Gallery/Grant St. Studios, 605 E. Grant
The Step Gallery serves as both an MFA thesis exhibition space and a proposal-driven, student run gallery. In the renovated warehouse building known to locals as the Levine Machine, this unique art space is worth exploring both inside and out.
Head back over to 3rd Street and cycle north back to CityScape, where you can hop a trolley to discover the rest of the Art Detour spaces. For the more intrepid urban explorer, use your Detour map to continue your bike adventure to Roosevelt Row to the north or over to the Grand Avenue arts district to the west.
Please note that both Roosevelt Row and Grand Avenue will be hosting their own neighborhood festivities during Detour this year: Roosevelt Row will be hosting the PAINT PHX block party, with music and a beer garden, on 5th Street on Saturday, and the No Festival Required outdoor screening of Stop Making Sense, on the west wall of Monorchid. On Sunday, Grand Avenue will present Detour de Grand, again featuring “bikes, beer and bands” along with open artist studios and galleries.
Whether you choose to connect the dots for a great Detour adventure on Saturday, Sunday or both days, there will be plenty of outdoor art adventures to discover at this weekend’s Art Detour 27.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee Announces Record Statistics for Downtown Phoenix and Verizon Super Bowl Central Festivities
Downtown Phoenix hosted more than one million visitors in the 12-block outdoor fan campus anchored by Verizon Super Bowl Central in the five days leading up to Super Bowl XLIX, it was announced today by the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee. In addition, hotel occupancy in the Valley for Thursday, January 29 through Sunday, February 1 was 40% above the same time period last year, with occupancy peaking on Super Bowl Saturday at 96% and the highest RevPAR ever recorded for metro Phoenix’s hotels for a single day, according to the Smith Travel Research.
“We exceeded our expectations, with 1,015,000 visitors from around the world and the region turning out in downtown Phoenix to celebrate the spirit of Arizona and Super Bowl XLIX,” said Jay Parry, President and CEO of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee.
“The number of people in Phoenix for these events was unprecedented, and I believe we soon will see tangible economic results for the city, the region and the state,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said.
At Verizon Super Bowl Central, the center of the festivities, free fan entertainment of 34 national recording artists, local bands and community groups played at the Pepsi Hyped for Halftime Stage, culminating with The Roots on Saturday, January 31. During the five-day period, 24,709 Pepsi products were purchased at Verizon Super Bowl Central. The Grand Canyon Experience Presented by NB | AZ averaged 250 climbers per hour on Super Bowl Sunday. Verizon kept visitors’ devices charged for free throughout the entire week via biometric scanning technology.
Over 13,000 fans visited Verizon Power House for a variety of football-themed activities utilizing the latest interactive technology. Visitors learned about NFL Mobile from the League’s best players and felt the intensity of the game through cutting-edge virtual reality technology that provided fans with a once-in-a-lifetime point-of-view experience. At the end of the experience, fans walked away with personalized content and a portable charger to stay charged throughout Verizon Super Bowl Central.
Verizon’s 3 week #WhosGonnaWin campaign culminated with a nightly social media driven projection mapping lightshow overlooking Verizon Super Bowl Central reflecting which team more fans thought would win Super Bowl XLIX.
Another notable success were the efforts made by the Host Committee, City of Phoenix and the NFL to divert the amount of trash going into local landfills through the Kick the Waste initiative. Verizon Super Bowl Central was the first reduced-waste event of this size associated with the Super Bowl and resulted in a 73% diversion rate from land-fill to recycling. A first in the city’s history, the initiative will serve as a benchmark for future high profile events.
“For Arizona, hosting Super Bowl XLIX was an overwhelming success. The members of our community, Valley stakeholders, corporate and tribal partners, and local businesses should be incredibly proud of how we rallied together to host this record breaking event and showcase all that Arizona has to offer on the global stage. Our state will be experiencing the positive impacts for years to come,” commented Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee Board Chair David Rousseau.
Other statistics for Super Bowl activities that positively impacted Arizona include: More than $2 million was donated to 27 local non-profit organizations by the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, Host Committee partners and the NFL. Approximately 400,000 children were impacted by community efforts around the Super Bowl. 170 trees were planted in public parks throughout the region. 33,000 new and gently used sports equipment items and books were collected through Super Kids-Super Sharing event. 23,782 pounds of electronics were collected at an E-Waste Recycling Rally presented by Verizon.
Images courtesy of the Arizona Super Bowl.
Construction is well underway for the Arizona Center for Law and Society, the new home for the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in Downtown Phoenix. In anticipation of the move from Tempe, we met with Dean Douglas Sylvester at the Valley Overlook lounge in the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown to talk about what the new campus will mean to students, faculty and the downtown community.
Located on the fourth floor of the hotel, the Overlook provides an expansive, birds-eye view of downtown and looks directly into the site where the new law school building is rising out of the ground. As we looked over the progress below, we talked with Dean Sylvester about both the opportunities and challenges of relocating to this more urban environment and how this new site signals a new era of increasing public engagement.
Sylvester joined ASU as an associate professor in 2002 and has watched the university grow and evolve during the last decade of change under Michael Crow’s leadership. He moved to the metro Phoenix area from Chicago, and talked a little about his early first impressions of downtown.
“I remember coming down here on my first week. I was coming from Ahwahtukee, so I gave myself an hour and a half to get here. Of course, I ended up getting here about an hour early,” he said, laughing to himself. “I went, ‘well that’s no problem, I’ll just find a Starbucks.’ But, I couldn’t find a Starbucks, so I literally spent the next hour just walking around this entire area where ASU is now. At that time, it didn’t seem like a place you would seek out, but now…now it’s unbelievable.” With a sweeping gesture, Sylvester points to all of the ASU program buildings that permeate our core, saying “All of this is clearly the biggest change since I’ve been here.”
We asked him to reflect on the key opportunities that having the law school downtown will offer to students and professors. “I think for students and alumni, it’s an unequivocal improvement in a lot of different ways. At the moment Tempe is great and part of a larger research institution, and you have all the things that a great university has to offer. What you don’t have is courts, businesses, and the political center of the state and the city, right down the street. Getting our students as close to employers and getting the law school as close to alumni as we can is going to make a huge difference in the level of connection we have and the level of connections are students can make to everybody else.”
From the faculty’s perspective, it’s a bit more challenging because, as Sylvester points out, there are a lot of people who’ve been in Tempe for a long time. They’ve built relationships on the Tempe campus, and many of them have organized their lives around being in Tempe. Yet, now that the building is going up, he’s already seen a growing interest in the downtown location from previously uncertain faculty.
“I do believe that what will end up happening is that we’ll forge new connections,” he added. “Additionally, we’ll hire new faculty that have never been in Tempe, who’ve only been in downtown, and they will look to different groups and constituencies.”
Dean Sylvester emphasized the opportunities the downtown campus will provide for community engagement. “As a public law school, we have a real commitment to the public and to be engaged in the community wherever we can. I think we already are incredibly engaged, but the idea that a lot of our faculty in their work and in their research are looking more to the public sphere rather than just to fellow academics is not ultimately a bad thing. When you start to adjust your thinking you start to see all the opportunities that downtown will provide.”
In Sylvester’s view, timing has been a significant plus for the law school moving downtown. “One of the things that would have made it a lot more difficult back in 2006 or 2007, was that almost nobody else [from ASU] was down here. I think Public Policy was here, but now the campus itself is so much more alive. And it’s not just an urban downtown feel here, there is a bit of a campus feel, so you have that duality, which is awesome.”
Now is a challenging time for law schools overall throughout the country. Sylvester pointed out that applications to law schools nation-wide are at their lowest level since 1973 and there are almost thirty percent more law schools now. So, on one hand it could seem like an odd time to build such a large facility, when law schools could be perceived as having less relevance than they’ve had in the past. But Sylvester sees it as a tremendous opportunity to rethink law school to make it even more relevant to today’s world.
“We don’t need to educate as many lawyers as before, but what we need to do is educate the very best lawyers. We need to educate them in a way that their value is not just in large firms, representing large institutional clients, but rather in public engagement and service. So, the challenge is really an opportunity to become more relevant.”
And how does Sylvester define “relevance” for the school?
“A relevant law school is basically defined by three concepts. One is it has to be incredibly student-centered. You can’t be purely focused on faculty and research. These are incredibly important things, but if you’re not focused on students of all kinds – not just those who are there to become lawyers but master students, people interested in the history of the law – then you’re not relevant to the very people you’re there to engage. That’s your mission…to educate.”
The second concept that defines relevance for Sylvester is the law school’s ability to “engage this community in issues that matter to them.” He hastens to add, “That doesn’t mean that our phenomenal faculty who think about deep concepts of jurisprudence or legal history are somehow irrelevant, they’re intensely important, but you need to be conscious about how you engage the community.” Sylvester is proud of what ASU already does and believes it will only do more.
“Our students and faculty donate over 100,000 hours a year to free legal services to the Valley,” he said. “It’s about a 10 million dollar economic benefit and once we move downtown, we’ll see those opportunities grow. That will make us relevant.”
The third element to make this new downtown school relevant is the building itself. It was a foundational question in creating the appropriate design to engage and inform the surrounding community. “So the building is wide open in a lot of ways,” said Sylvester. “Entire walls basically disappear, so that people can come in, enjoy the shade, have a cup of coffee, and while sitting there perhaps watch our video screens and become informed about the news of the day in law, or the history of law, or the importance of law in their lives.” He adds, “I think the real problem that lawyers ran into is that we stopped thinking about how law is such an incredibly positive role in everybody’s life, every day. Law is ultimately structural. It provides the framework 99% of the time for people to move forward in their lives. We make the law relevant by revealing to people how we help, as lawyers , in your life, every single day.”
In line with ASU’s belief in grounding the school in the community has been the creation of the ASU Alumni Law Group, a groundbreaking program modeled on a teaching hospital structure, where you have permanent employees who supervise young associates with real clients. He’s quick to point out that these are not student lawyers. Associates have graduated from law school, have been admitted to the bar, and have to apply to work at the firm for a two to three-year stint. It’s a nonprofit law firm that serves paying clients. The services aren’t free, but they are considerably less than the going rate. This one-of-a-kind program provides legal services to everyday Arizonans in family law, estate planning, criminal defense, civil litigation and small business, which underscores ASU’s commitment to community engagement.
As we looked down at the new school taking shape below, Sylvester noted that construction is on schedule to be completed in May 2016, with move-in scheduled for that summer in time to be open for 2016 fall classes. The underground parking lots are nearly done and next we’ll be seeing the steel framework rising out of the ground. We look forward to seeing how the move to downtown will make ASU’s respected law school even more relevant for the 21st century.