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Foodie news roundup for the week of March 13.

Found each Saturday in the heart of Downtown Phoenix, the Open Air Market at Phoenix Public Market celebrates spring by welcoming Chef Danielle Leoni from The Breadfruit & Rum Bar on March 18 as part of the Shop with the Chef series at 9 a.m. Known for her avant-garde approach to blending local farm-fresh ingredients with tropical traditions, this ardent supporter of the local farming community will start her culinary field trip by visiting select farmers to discuss what’s growing, then she’ll demonstrate how to pick the best produce and prepare her market finds into a delicious dish to be shared with bystanders.

The first day of spring is right around the corner–which only means one thing for Italian ice lovers: the countdown is on to Rita’s First Day of Spring Free Italian Ice Giveaway on Monday, March 20. Stop by any local Rita’s for the chance at a free Italian ice.

On Thursday, March 23, James Beard award-winning chefs from around the country will prepare a multi-course meal complete with carefully selected wine pairings. Experience this once-in-a-lifetime collaborative dinner in the company of true artisans at one of the Valley’s finest resorts, The Westin Kierland Resort and Spa. Tickets to The Friends of James Beard Benefit Dinner are $225 per person or $2,100 for a table of 10. The dinner starts at 6 p.m. All net proceeds raised will support the non-profit Scottsdale League for the Arts in its effort to promote the arts and arts education organizations in the Phoenix metropolitan area. For more information and to purchase tickets online, visit http://scottsdalefest.org.

Kneaders is opening its 14th store in the Valley on March 17, which will be in North Phoenix. This opening also marks the 19th in the state. Visitors to the new location will be treated to free Chunky Cinnamon French toast on March 17 and 18. Proceeds from the weekend’s sales will be going to North Canyon High School.

Andaz Scottsdale is hosting its second Storytellers Dinner on March 22, as part of an ongoing culinary series that brings together local partners for a special evening featuring a curated menu and lively conversation as the resort’s new signature restaurant, Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen.  Executive Chef Adam Sheff and the mixologists of Weft & Warp Art Bar will be joined by Casamigos Tequila expert Grace Jahn. Tickets are available for purchase for $85 (which includes tax and gratuity, a welcome cocktail reception and four-course dinner). Guests can reserve their seat by calling 480.214.4622.

Ocean Poke Co. (pictured) in Phoenix (3619 East Indian School Rd.) opens March 27 with a week of festivities:

March 27 and 28: 50 percent off your bowl

March 29 and 30: Buy one bowl, get one free (equal or lesser value)

March 31: A percentage of proceeds will benefit Phoenix Children’s Hospital

April 1: Free Cali Bowl or $8 off any other bowl, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more fab foodie news, become a fan on Facebook or follower on Twitter @AZFoothillsfood and Instagram @AZFoothills.

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