The two-day Devoured culinary festival debuted Saturday at Phoenix Art Museum, where food enthusiasts sampled foods and wines, watched cooking demonstrations and attended seminars. The museum’s sculpture garden was set up in much the same manner as last year’s West of Western culinary festival, which as supplanted by Devoured.
There were a several nice improvements from last year’s fest. Most notably, the wine-tasting tables have been moved from inside the museum and are now scattered among the food tents, making it easier to sample wines and foods together.
My first stop was J&G Steakhouse, where the Phoenician Resort steakhouse was serving tuna tartare with avocado, spicy radish and ginger marinade. Nice presentation, but not exactly inspiring.
Heirloom, chef Michael DeMaria‘s restaurant in north Scottsdale, offered artisan fusilli pasta with carrot-and-chicken Bolognese and parmesan. Not-so-nice presentation.
Rita’s Kitchen, located at Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, didn’t exactly wow me with a chicken quesadilla. They also had fresh guacamole and tamarind aqua fresca.
Things started to get interesting at The Parlor, where bruschetta was topped with a chickpea puree or an olive tapenade.
It’s kinda simple, but banana caramel French toast from Arcadia breakfast spot Over Easy hit the spot. Sweet, rich and delicious.
Besides his Over Easy, chef Aaron May was representing his Mabel’s on Main in Old Town Scottsdale.
His Mabel’s offering: more tuna tatare, this time with avocado and blood orange.
Another Phoenician restaurant, Relish Burger Bistro, stepped up with beef sliders, as well as crab cake sliders with chipotle cole slaw.
Crescent Moon, from the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale, delivered yet more tuna tatare, this time served in small tacos.
I did, however, really like Crescent Moon’s other giveaway: chorizo and mole pizza. Nice and spicy.
I love the pizzas and sandwiches at Cibo in Phoenix, but I wasn’t much impressed by spoonfuls of burrata and speck on chopped arugula. There also were gnocchi in a white cream sauce.
Poblano hummus made for a pleasant stop at Green, the fabulous Tempe vegetarian eatery.
Green also brought its famous “spicy buffalo wings” – actually made with mushrooms but just as good as the real thing. No one believes it until they try them.
While most restaurants identified their dishes on plain cards, Green was a little more hip.
Next stop was Phoenix’s Gallo Blanco, where I tried carne asada tacos and shrimp ceviche.
Chef/owner Doug Robson also enticed with chocolate chip and white chocolate chip/macadamia nut cookies from his Hillside Spot in Ahwatukee.
Silvana Salcido Esparza, a nominee for this year’s James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest, got the festival’s most remote tent for her Barrio Cafe.
The Phoenix restaurant dished out cochinita (pork) pibil and shrimp pibil.
A masked luchador works on a large painting at the Barrio tent.
Phoenix sushi favorite Hana Japanese Eatery scored with chicken meatballs it calls Hana Tsukune and pieces of seared walu (“white tuna”).
MJ Bread put out barbecue beef sliders …
… while tent-mate Tammy Coe Cakes dunked chocolate-coconut lollipops into chocolate glaze and served with coconut-tapioca pudding.
Scottsdale’s Roka Akor had two winners with its butterfish tataki and ribeye from its robata grill.
Chef Wade Moises was manning his Pasta Bar tent …
… where options included orecchiette puttanesca, gnocchi with tomato ragu and cavatelli with lemon butter.
Scottsdale newcomer Modern Steak did ahi tuna poke – why do steakhouses insist on showcasing raw tuna? – and a beet salad.
Matt Carter (Zinc, The Mission, Nine/05) was one of five chefs who gave cooking demos.
Olive & Ivy, one of Modern Steak’s Sam Fox siblings, seems to roll out veal-and-spinach ravioli at every festival. But I always seem to like the Scottsdale restaurant’s desserts, and a small Guinness cupcake with Guinness icing was no exception.
Yet another Fox restaurant, True Food Kitchen, did edamame dumplings and kale salad.
Former Wall Street Journal restaurant critic Raymond Sokolov answered people’s questions during one of the day’s seminars.
Arcadia Farms brought its usual – pulled pork on a corn cake.
Tarbell’s had a crew of a half-dozen just to scoop sloppy joe sliders with aged cheddar. But I didn’t see chef Mark Tarbell all day.
Fossil Creek Creamery didn’t splurge on the size of its goat’s milk fudge samples, but they did taste great.
Cheese maven Lara Hardwick, on the other hand, handed out nice-sized pieces of several different cheeses …
… as well as thinly sliced charcuterie from her Petit Fromage shop.
Scottsdale’s Taggia offered a crab-and-ricotta ravioli.
District chef Nathan Crouser was a hit at last year’s fest with his playful takes on comfort foods.
He created one of my first-day favorites – mini cheesy corn dogs made by battering pieces of Schreiner’s cheese dogs.
District also served red velvet whoopie pies.
Sam Pillsbury (on right) was one of several Arizona winemakers pouring their wines.
Phoenix’s Cheuvront Restaurant and Wine had salmon pate topped with caviar and served on crostini.
Phoenix’s Chelsea Kitchen had shrimp ceviche and brussels sprout salad.
Curry lamb sliders from Phoenix’s Fez were flavorful.
This year’s festival featured more comfortable seating, but it still was hard to get.
Switch did something a little different with its beef-and-veal meatloaf, serving it Wellington-style with house-made ketchup. I would have liked it better if it wasn’t cold.
Ticoz offered grilled shrimp and “guacammus” tostadas.
The most colorful dish of the day had to be Arizona sweet shrimp with yellow tomato gazpacho, cilantro pesto and smashed avocado from the Arizona Biltmore’s Frank & Albert’s.
Maizie’s Cafe‘s Chili Roja de la Casa.
Chef Christopher Gross (right) chats in front of the Christopher’s Crush tent.
Gross catered to the sweet tooth with his fabulous gateau Marjolaine.
Prado chef Claudio Urciuoli apparently had a cold head.
Prado dished out a mix of baby artichokes, olives, parmesan and balsamic vinegar.
Last stop: Postino Wine Cafe had a selection of its popular bruschetta.