The Arizona Barbecue Festival is set to kick off tonight in Old Town Scottsdale with the VIP dinner. Thirteen Valley chefs, including Matt Carter (Zinc Bistro, Mission), Iron Chef winner and Food Network star Beau MacMillan (elements), James Porter (Petite Maison), Aaron May (Mabel’s on Main, Overeasy, The Lodge), Silvana Esparza (Barrio Café) and more, will be put into teams to create top barbecue dishes. The VIP dinner wil take place under a tent in Scottsdale Southbridge and the meal will be paired with fine wines and spirits. Tickets to the VIP Dinner are $150 and include all four meals, wine and spirits, live entertainment and a goodie bag.
On Saturday, the main tasting event takes place. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., festival-goers can purchase $2 samples (half of which goes to charity) of the competitive barbecue. They can also enjoy live music, an on-site farmer’s market, cooking demos by celebrity chefs, a beauty pageant, an expo of green exhibitors and barbecue equipment and enter a Texas Hold-Em Contest. There’s even plenty for the little ones in the Kid’s Zone. General admission to Saturday’s main event is $10 (free for kids under 12); access into a VIP tent is $50. Select proceeds from all profits from the Arizona Barbecue Festival and VIP dinner will benefit Operation Homefront, a non-profit that provides aid to the families of enlisted American military. www.azbbqfestival.com.