My Weekend At Devour PHX, One Of Phoenix's Hottest Food Festivals

My Weekend At Devour PHX, One Of Phoenix's Hottest Food Festivals

How a college student can hack expensive food festivals.

My Weekend At Devour PHX, One Of Phoenix's Hottest Food Festivals
Photo by Alexis Kwan

When you run in a circle of foodies, you experience your city's culture through a completely new lens. I had heard about the Devour Culinary Classic festival months ago as a high-end, food-lover's weekend of tasting the best that Phoenix chefs have to offer. Did I mention it's hosted by the Desert Botanical Garden? It's truly a picturesque event for the wealthiest of Scottsdale and Phoenix to enjoy and with one-way tickets starting at over $100, as a college student, I figured I would have to sit this one out.

Near the end of January, I heard someone in my office mention that the festival was coming up and that they were looking for volunteers. I have heard about music festivals giving free admission to volunteer workers before but I wasn't sure what a classy, culinary festival would offer. They had a Google Form hidden on their website for volunteers. In exchange for a 9-5 shift volunteering on one day, you could enjoy the festival as a ticket-holding guest the alternate day. What that really means is in exchange for helping teach guests about composting and handing out wine glasses all day, I got to sample dishes from Phoenix's most acclaimed chefs for free.

The way my schedule worked, I got to enjoy Saturday's talent line-up of restaurants that are normally way out of my price range (I'm talking money) and work all day on Sunday.

Here's what I ate:

Chorizo Burger from Otro Cafe

Smoked Chula Swordfish Belly from Chula Seafood

Scallop with Mango Salsa from Stock and Stable

Potato Chip with Sour Cream Panna Cotta (aka fancy chips and dip) from Stock and Stable

Various Artisan Popcorn with Italian Hot Chocolate from Kettle Heroes

Chicken Marsala with Foie Gras Ravioli from Fat Ox

Whipped Ricotta Gelato from Fat Ox

Mole and Duck Quesadilla from the Mission

Char Siu Pork with Radish Slaw from Welcome Diner

Carnitas Taco from Taco Chelo

Golden Milk Latte from Phoenix Public Market

Mac N Cheese Taco from Social Hall

Pork Belly and Polenta from Aioli Burger

Arroz Negro (Lobster, shrimp, calamari, mussel, chorizo, with Saffron aioli) from T. Cooks

Salted Mexican Chocolate Tart from Province Urban Kitchen and Bar

Uni (Sea Urchin) with Caviar from Roka Akur

Brisket from Roka Akur (the line was 20 mins long for a tiny slice of this)

Raspberry Gelato Popsicle Doc's Artisan Ice Cream

Citrus Flourless Cake with Sea Salt from Eat by Stacey Weber

Chicken and Waffle from Unknown

Lobster Roll from Unknown

Everything got a little hazy near the end. We were there right at 11:30 a.m. when it started and stayed until about 3 p.m. when chefs were starting to run out of everything (which is great considering the event ends at 3:30 p.m.). I got to talk to a lot of chefs about how long their restaurants had been open and many were as excited as I was to experience their first Devour. There were a few stops I wish we had gone to before they ran out but next year I'll have to make a more strategic plan of where I want to go and when.

The volunteering experience was pretty basic. I handed out wine glasses to guests coming in for about 2 hours and then switched over to helping guests sort their waste (trash, recycle, and compost). The volunteer managers were very nice and catered Oreganos for us at lunch. Some of the really nice volunteer managers let us sneak tastes from the restaurants showcasing that day. My advice to myself for next year would be to help with set-up volunteer shifts instead of full-day shifts. I would've rather worked in the morning of both days and gotten to experience the whole weekend as a guest instead of working a full day and only experiencing the other.

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