Celebrities at Arizona Festival, Featuring 30+ Restaurants & Wineries


Now in its second year Eight’s Check, Please! Arizona Festival hosting a renowned celebrity chef lineup showcased in wine seminars, cooking demonstrations and a rare discussion panel by Arizona’s James Beard Award winners. The festival adds more culinary hotspots in preparation for the food and drink transformation to hit CityScape, closing down Central Avenue in the heart of downtown Phoenix.

The Arizona Festival foodie event is set for Sun., March 30, 2014 from 11am-3pm which will include a day full of celebrity chefs and restaurateurs who will do cooking demonstrations, wine seminars and the foodie favorite, the James Beard Award winner discussion panel. Three stages will set the scene for the scheduled showcases, the SubZero/Wolf Chef Demonstration Stage, the Safeway Grill Master Stage and the Chow Bella Stage.

Celebrity chefs include: Check, Please! Arizona host and James Beard Award winner Robert McGrath, who will moderate the discussion panel and share his unmistakable charm and culinary insight in a cooking demonstration; James Beard Award winner and chef, Nobuo Fukuda is also set to participate in the discussion panel and deliver his exotic cooking knowledge sure to impress every food lover; as well as James Beard Award winner and chef, Christopher Gross who is also participating in the discussion panel as well as a wine seminar, showcasing his more than 40 years of experience in the wine and food world.

In addition to celebrity chefs offering a number of unprecedented insights, more than 30 of Arizona’s favorite independent dining spots are set to dish out their specialties, in addition to wineries and craft breweries. A singular opportunity for fans at the CityScape event is the chance for guests to audition for the fifth season of the TV show Check, Please! Arizona, which airs on Eight, Arizona PBS.

Robert McGrath. True to his role as Check, Please! Arizona show host, Chef McGrath will lead the panel discussion once again. McGrath was awarded the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest in 2001 and has been nominated for the prestigious award five times. McGrath has earned national acclaim for nearly two decades touting a long list of awards including “Ten Best Chefs in America” by Food & Wine magazine in 1988 and “One of the Best New Restaurants in America,” Esquire magazine in 1991.

Christopher Gross. Most recently acclaimed for his Christopher’s & Crush Lounge (which has been named one of the top 10 New Restaurants in the U.S. by Gayot.com), Christopher Gross received the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest in 1995.   He has been named one of America’s 10 Best New Chefs by Food & Wine magazine; and also was the first chef in Arizona to receive the Robert Mondavi Culinary Award of Excellence. Gross has been featured on numerous panels with Jacques Pepin and Julia Child at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colo.  And, for some fans, most noteworthy of all is Gross’ inclusion in the book and PBS television series “In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs” — Julia being Julia Child, the grand dame of culinary pursuits.

Nobuo Fukuda. Most recently acclaimed for Nobuo at Teeter House (which earned a five-star rating by The Arizona Republic, a “Best Of” award by Phoenix New Times, among other rave reviews and awards), Nobuo Fukuda has been dishing out his inventive, Japanese-inspired cuisine in Arizona for more than 30 years.  In 2002, Chef Fukuda opened the Japanese tapas bar Sea Saw earning him the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest in 2007. Winning accolades from all major local publications, Nobuo Fukuda was touted as “Chef to Watch” by Esquire magazine columnist John Mariani; and earned a spot on the “Best New Chefs of 1999” list by Food & Wine magazine.

Renee Blodgett
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
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