DOC’S EXCLUSIVE REPORT ON THIS SPECTACULAR EVENT:

A BIRTHDAY PARTY, WINE AND FOOD GALA AT THE ARIZONA BILTMORE

She’s 90, as cheerful and irreverent as ever and permanently viewed as a genuine part of important Americana. Julia Child is not just another household word but part of our cooking and kitchen vernacular, and the placement of her kitchen as part of the Smithsonian’s permanent exhibition gives enormous credence to the hundreds of celebrity salutes coming her way which all seem to say that this grand lady is the single most important influence on the popularity of gourmet cooking for mainstream America.

On August 1, twenty restaurants across the country threw a birthday party to celebrate the Grand Dame’s birthday, and I was privileged to attend the crème-de-la-crème gathering at Wright’s, the renowned epicurean restaurant in the fabulous Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix. Graciously emceed by the incomparable Barb Fenzl who authored the “Southwest the Beautiful Cookbook,” with special guest celebrity Chef Julian Serrano who recently garnered “ 2002 Best Chef of the Southwest,” from the James Beard Foundation, the gala also served as a high level fund raiser for Ms. Child’s favorite charity, the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

While not officially part of the Arizona Biltmore’s 3rd Annual Food and Wine Weekend, the birthday bash was beautifully timed to launce this stellar event and many of the celebrants—myself included—stayed over to enjoy three days of culinary excellence combined with wine education and sampling that has, in my opinion, no parallel anywhere. This is the way you present expertly prepared foods from the cultivated talents of great chefs and gently lead those who aspire for a higher lifestyle into the delicate art of properly pairing each dish with a suitable wine.

Memorable food and wine celebrations are difficult at events where the crowds seem more suited to a rock concert. The Arizona Biltmore weekend remains intimate while growing in popularity as their reputation for excellence spreads throughout. Within this rare framework of intimacy, I was easily able to meet almost everyone and made new friends and priceless memories. Also, this was another opportunity to be with two of the most respected wine educators on this planet, my dear friends, Michael Green and Philip Di Belardino, legends both.

Max ReidelOther highlights made this food and wine event distinctive. Live broadcasting (this was a real public relations coup, something I’ve never witnessed at any wine and food event) in the middle of all the action was provided be the local Clear Channel Radio affiliate KFYI, expertly co- hosted by two genuine rising stars in broadcasting, Michele Larson and Steven Gregory. While all the seminars were notable for effectiveness and originality, the crystal stemware lecture and demonstration by the esteemed artisan Maximilian Riedel was an eye-opener even for the most seasoned wine enthusiast. Young, articulate and handsome, Mr. Riedel convinced me that acceptable wine merits being enjoyed from a crystal glass. And no one makes them finer than Riedel.

Over a few days, I joined with friends old and new to celebrate the wonderful contributions of Julia Child and, thanks to the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, renewed my belief that chefs, winemakers and those who enjoy their heaven-inspired products provide us with a taste of paradise.

This was the perfect weekend in an oasis. You must plan to join me at the Arizona Biltmore next year.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Visit www.arizonabiltmore.com and get all the details for attending this fabulous weekend next year!

 

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