Many people think of Arizona as a southwestern state that is mostly desert, few mountains, sparsely populated, and no home-gRown protein and produce. Those who think that are wrong, very wrong. Recently, we explored Arizona with our boots literally on the ground. Arizona is a very abundant state with large certified organic farms, dairies, distilleries, breweries, and yes, wineries.
What brought us to Arizona, you may ask: The lovely Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia hosted the James Beard Foundation and five renowned chefs from all over the nation for the inaugural Desert to Dish culinary event.
Our car arrived at this resort nestled at the base of Camelback Mountain, in the exclusive enclave of Paradise Valley. The Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia is your own oasis inspired by Spain’s Andalusia region.
Walking the property, it is very reminiscent of a picturesque Andalusian village featuring arching entryways, tranquil fountains and floral walkways. If its pampering you desire, we found an array of rejuvenating experiences at the award-winning Joya Spa, where we relaxed and decompressed in Scottsdale's only Hammam spa. It didn’t take long until we dove into one of the three pools, where stunning mountain views got us in the right mood to explore the restaurants and libation offerings for us to sip and savor. The Montelucia shows off its critically acclaimed restaurants including Prado or you can retreat to an elegantly appointed guest room perfect for stargazing on your private patio. No matter what brings you to Scottsdale, the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia is perfect premier destination for luxury and romance, relaxation and recreation. In our case, it was the James Beard Foundation and Desert to Dish.
The sun was setting just behind the mountain and it was time for us to meet the chefs for the first time. Underneath a sky blanketed in stars we arrived at the reception in the kitchen and herb garden. Resort executive chef Michael Cairns welcomed us with a lovely evening of chef tastings, wine pairings, handcrafted cocktails, and craft breweries all sourced from Arizona. Enjoying the night on the lawn we mingled with the Desert to Dish chefs and local purveyors who we would become very close with over the next few days.
Mornings at this world-class resort bring us a feeling of peace and rejuvenation. This morning however will begin an experience that we will remember for a very long time. We would spend the day teamed up with an incredible chef as we scoured the countryside sourcing ingredients for a dinner with the James Beard Foundation.
Chef Michale Carins, executive chef at the Omni Montelucia introduced us to our chef partners for the weekend. Chef Brain Luscher (The Grape Restaurant, Dallas); chef Jason Porter (Seven Glaciers Anchorage, Alaska); chef Joe Magnanelli (CUCINA Urbana + Enoteca San Diego); chef Joey Beato (Community Tavern, The Portage, Chicago); and chef Brandon Foster (Vesta Dipping Grill, Denver). Introductions over, we joined a chef and headed out to find the best products available from the local purveyors.