Twenty-eight years ago, James Beard Award-winning chef Christopher Gross had a novel idea for charitable fundraising – find a host, ask 10 chefs to supply, free of charge, a multi-course dinner and wine for 10 people, including the tables, silverware, plates, tablecloths, decorations and servers. Gross couldn’t find a home for his idea until he met a professional fundraiser for the American Liver Foundation, who liked the concept, and Flavors of Phoenix was born. The event has since expanded to 30 cities nationwide, Gross says.
This year’s Valley event will take place at Westin Kierland Resort & Spa on May 23 and features more than 30 of the Valley’s best chefs, including Gross of Wrigley Mansion and chef co-chairs Matt Carter of The Mission, Fat Ox and Zinc Bistro and Chris Masco of Westin Kierland.
The evening begins with a cocktail reception and silent auction, followed by dinner in the Grand Ballroom crafted by the host chefs. “The chef prepares everything tableside and actually serves the guests and pours the wine along with the servers,” Gross says. “We have 32 restaurants participating this year, preparing a 5-6 course dinner simultaneously.”
Many of the restaurants bring elaborate setups, which in the past have included booths, scaffolding for hanging televisions and fire ringing the tables. “One table was suspended from the ceiling with plexiglass,” he says.
As great as the event is for the guests, it’s also a fun gathering for the chefs and other staff, Gross says. “This gives us time to interact with each other and see comrades in the business that we don’t always get to talk to because we’re all so busy.”
Every table is new each year, including the decorations, menus and wines, Gross says. And the best part? Every ($500) ticket sold goes directly to fund research, education and advocacy efforts for the American Liver Foundation. “I think it’s the best event in the city.”
For more information, visit alfflavors.org/phoenix.