(Photo courtesy of Tucson City of Gastronomy)

Dining in the Desert: 5 Chefs, 4 Courses & Wine with the Setting Sun

October 16, 2023
By Tucson Foodie

From 5 – 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 28, the nonprofit Tucson City of Gastronomy (TCOG) will host “Dining in the Desert,” an evening of outdoor fine dining in a natural desert area under the setting sun and full moon rise.

The dinner will take place at the Juan Santa Cruz Picnic Area on North Kinney Road.

What to Expect

Jonathan Mabry, TCOG’s Executive Director, described how the event will be a unique culinary experience and help the organization in its work.

“We have designed a feast for the senses, with five top chefs using heritage ingredients of our region, award-winning local wines, live violin music, wild animal demonstrations by the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and moonlit views of the desert,” he said.

Hors d’oeuvres and a four-course dinner will be prepared by five renowned local chefs, including four of Tucson’s official Chef Ambassadors. The meal will be accompanied by four award-winning wines presented by acclaimed Southern Arizona winemaker Kent Callaghan.

“The funding raised by this event will help us increase the impacts of our work to address the goals of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Program, strengthen the local food economy and food system, and increase appreciation of our region’s food heritage and culinary assets,” Mabry added.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum will display live wild animals and educational materials about desert foods. Funds raised by this event will support TCOG’s efforts to maintain and leverage the UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy designation of Tucson and its southern Arizona foodshed to broadly benefit the community.

This outdoor fine dining event will feature a menu showcasing seasonal fall flavors and terroir of the Sonoran Desert, and the creativity and skills of several of Tucson’s Chef Ambassadors.

TCOG Board President Janos Wilder stated, “This is a one-of-a-kind experience combining the beauty of the Sonoran desert with a full moon rising, the bounty of heritage ingredients that the desert supplies, and a chance  to meet some of the wild animals that live here.”

Participating Chefs

The featured chefs, each preparing a different course, are connected to TCOG through the Chef Ambassador and Restaurant Certification programs, and three are founding members of the Gastronomic Union of Tucson.

They will include Mat Cable (Chef/Owner of Fresco Pizzeria & Pastaria and First We Eat Catering and Confections, and Co-owner of Zio Peppe), Sarah Lamberth (Executive  Chef at Davis-Monthan AFB), Wendy Gauthier (Executive Chef of Lodge at Ventana Canyon), Obadiah Hindman (Executive Chef of Mountain Oyster Club), and Devon Sanner (Chef/Co-owner of TCOG Certified Zio Peppe).

Wines will be provided by Kent Callaghan (Owner/Winemaker at Callaghan Vineyards, TCOG Certified Artisan), whose wines have received many accolades and awards and have been served four times at the White House.  

Tickets are limited and $125 per person.  

For more information and to purchase your tickets, visit eventbrite.com.

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