Brandon Drummond Announced as Director of Operations at Compass Lounge and Restaurant

Hyatt Regency Phoenix downtown offers a new look and feel following a multi-million-dollar makeover, and patrons of Arizona’s only revolving rooftop restaurant, Compass, will find a fresh face at the helm.

Brandon Drummond, a member of the Hyatt Regency family for over 15 years, is taking the reins as the new director of Operations at Compass. Drummond, who worked at Hyatt Regency hotels in Washington, D.C., San Antonio, New Orleans and Bonita Springs, Florida, before making his way further west, comes to Hyatt Regency Phoenix most recently from Hyatt Regency in Greenwich, Connecticut. There, he was responsible for overseeing the culinary efforts of the $13.5 million operation and will draw upon the culinary and management skills he honed there in his new role in Arizona.

Pairing his culinary talents and creativity with inspiration from the beauty of the Southwest, guests of Compass will find a revamped lounge menu spotlighting fresh seafood, handcrafted cocktails and similar elevated fare. Think Buttermilk Fried Quail with wilted greens and jalapeño honey, for starters, or a Charcuterie Board boasting the likes of local cheeses, meats, pickles and jams.

Compass says that the menu is leading guests in an exciting new direction, offering a number of notable new selections from land and sea in addition to longtime staples. Main-course highlights include Quick-Cured Duck served alongside barley mushroom risotto, bok choy and blackberry demi or indulgent Elk Chops served with a guest’s choice of béarnaise, truffle butter, steak sauce or a merlot or blackberry demi.

As far as cocktails, Compass offers a wide array of selections ranging from the Strawberry Blonde, made with Meyer lemon vodka, house-made lemonade and simple syrup, and strawberries, to the Blue Rose Bramble, featuring Maker’s Mark, blueberries and house-made rosemary simple syrup.

This month, Valley residents can get a taste of the local culinary and performance arts scenes at the same time. Drummond is among those participating in Plated and Staged…A Herberger Theater Experience, an annual fundraising event that unites more than 850 guests and 35 partners from fine restaurants across the Valley. Slated for Sunday, March 29, at the Herberger Theater, the event benefits the theater’s youth outreach programs, which seek to expose even more area youths to the culinary and performing arts.

Hyatt Regency Phoenix is located at 122 North 2nd Street in downtown Phoenix. For more information, call 602.252.1234 or visit the property online.

Chart-Topping Country Music Stars Lee Brice and Craig Morgan to Headline KNIX BBQ & Beer Festival

Valley residents are invited to kick back and enjoy tasty BBQ, hot country music and a day of family fun at the 11th annual KNIX BBQ & Beer Festival. In partnership with iHeart Media and 102.5 KNIX, Lee Brice and Craig Morgan will co-headline the event, Saturday, March 28.

Known as the largest BBQ event west of Texas and awarded “outstanding event of the year,” the KNIX BBQ & Beer Festival will feature national and locally recognized BBQ pit masters while showcasing over a dozen cocktails and beers to wash it down with.

This family-friendly event offers the ‘For the Love of BBQ’ Lounge, VIP tent, Bourbon Street, BBQ Pit Row, March Madness zone, Live & Local arena, Kid Kick-Back zone, petting zoo, carnival and other interactive experiences. Additionally, a portion of the event’s proceeds will be donated to the Greater Cause Foundation.

A few of the restaurant purveyors that will be dishin’ up the ‘Q: Blazin Bronco BBQ, Bobby-Q BBQ, Can’t Stop Smokin’ Bar-B-Q, The Corndog Company AZ, Drivewood Fired Grill, Famous Dave’s BBQ, FarmBoy Market, Meats & Sandwiches, Honey Bear’s BBQ, Rudy’s BBQ and Tom’s BBQ,

The event’s multiple stages will provide country music lovers uninterrupted live performances throughout the day. In addition to Brice and Morgan, the lineup also includes country music superstars Locash, and Caylee Hammack. Local talent Jim Bachman & the Day Drinkers, Blaine Long, Drew Cooper and Jacob Morris will also perform.

“This is an incredible musical line-up,” said Landon Evans, owner of HDE Agency, the event organizer. “We are thrilled to partner with iHeart and KNIX to be able to bring this star-studded festival to Chandler for one of our largest events of the year.”

The festivities will take place at Tumbleweed Park located at 745 East Germann Road in Chandler with gates opening at noon with the fun lasting until 10pm. For more information about KNIX BBQ & Beer Festival, musical performers, BBQ offerings and tickets visit www.chandlerbbq.com.

Meet the Makers who are Redefining the Flavor of American Cuisine — ‘tasteMAKERS’ hosts Phoenix Event Feb. 29 at Unexpected Art Gallery

If you travel to the top of the Sacaton Mountains, acres of historic land will surround you — land that was once rich, green, full of life, but later became arid. When Ramona Button was a child, her father brought her to a mountain peak overlooking the Valley, and told her that his dream was for her to restore the land and with it, the disappearing tepary bean and the agricultural tradition of the Akimel O’Odham community. Beginning in 1974 with a push from local elders, using two pickle jars full of white and brown beans her father saved for her, Button embarked on this mission. Today, because of her and her family, tepary beans are back — cultivated as food for the body and the soul.

In the second season of “tasteMAKERS,” which airs on public television stations nationwide, Emmy-winning producer and host Cat Neville travels to Phoenix to explore the impact that Ramona Farms and the revival of the tepary bean has had on the Gila River Indian Community. The episode highlights the history and sacrifice that went into the creation of Ramona Farms while emphasizing the importance of indigenous culture and recognizing foods unique to Arizona. Featured in the episode are Kai Restaurant and Cotton & Copper, both of which include Button’s tepary beans in a variety of their offerings. The episode also features Michael Preston of the Akimel O’odham/Pee-Posh Youth Council, who uses tepary beans and other traditional ingredients as a way to help connect the Gila River Indian Community’s youth to their cultural history through food.

“Ramona and her family are doing more than cultivating heritage crops,” says Neville. “They are connecting their community as well as others with the history and rich agricultural heritage of the Akimel O’odham people through these traditional foods, which were almost lost to history when Ramona began growing the beans in the 1970s.”

In the episode, Velvet says that through cooking with intention and appreciating that tepary beans are a gift, she and her mother are able to preserve the traditional flavors of their community. The episode also notes that Button and her daughter, Velvet, frequently host classes and teach the proper techniques associated with cooking tepary beans and other products from the farm like heritage wheat and ancient varieties of corn.

As part of its mission to connect makers, farmers and chefs with their communities, “tasteMAKERS” hosts Meet the Makers events in key cities across the U.S. On Feb. 29, tasteMAKERS’ Neville, will host Meet the Makers at Unexpected Art Gallery in Phoenix. The event will feature segments from the Arizona episode, plus interviews and demos with Velvet Button, Michael Preston, chef Tamara Stanger of Cotton & Copper and chef Ryan Swanson of Kai Restaurant.

“Meet the Makers is a fantastic way to highlight local makers and the foods they are bringing to their communities,” Neville said. “To us, it’s not only about good food, but also spreading a cultural movement. We are thrilled to watch first-hand as event attendees learn about the culture, flavor and stories behind these unique artisan chefs.”

Following the live program, attendees will enjoy a pop-up Makers Market featuring Phoenix makers, including Fairytale Brownies, Raul’s Cocina, Untamed Confections, Mi Salsa, Queen Creek Olive Mill, Iconic Cocktail Co. and Hope’s Artisan Breads. Like Button, these makers use equal parts precision and passion in each part of the cooking process to define the flavor of Phoenix cuisine.

Doors open at 1:30pm, the live program begins at 2pm, with the Makers Market scheduled to begin at 3pm. For more information about dates, specific vendors and location details, visit www.watchtastemakers.com/meet-the-makers-phoenix. Use the code “tastemakers50” to receive 50 percent off of tickets.

A Healthy ‘Thank You’ to Nurses from Brunch Café

Pictured, L-R: Nurses Amy George and Katie Wall enjoy a stop at Brunch Café.

Here’s a delicious “thank you” to all nurses from the Brunch Café in Scottsdale. Every morning year-round, from 6:30am to 10am, all nurses are invited to stop in and enjoy 50 percent off all drinks on the menu plus a complimentary chocolate-covered strawberry. Drinks on the menu include specialty coffee drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos, delicious fruit smoothies, cold press juices, flavored lemonades, iced teas, coffee, hot tea and much more.

Brunch Café is located at 15507 North Scottsdale Road, Suite 100. Nurses must show their nursing ID to receive the special offer. For more information, call Brunch Café at 480.398.7174 or visit www.brunchcafe.com.

Sip, Savor, Celebrate at Devour the World Feb. 15

Celebrate the international flavors of the Valley Saturday, Feb. 15, at Devour the World, which kicks off the 2020 Devour Phoenix lineup of events. Taste the multicultural cuisines from favorite countries while enjoying cultural music and dance performances from around the world.

Presented by the City of Peoria, Phoenix Magazine, Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance and Local First Arizona, Devour the World moved to Peoria this year to make this unique cultural festival more accessible to West Valley residents.

Some of this year’s culinary participants include Chef Azeb Getahun, Abyssinian Restaurant and Café; Chef Daniele Lombardo, Bottega Pizzeria Ristorante; Chef Danielle Leoni, The Breadfruit & Rum Bar; Chef Yesenia Ramirez, Salvadoreño Restaurant; and Chef Kamal Singh, Tandoori Times; among many others. Libations will be available from Baja Brewing Co., Hoegaarden Beer, Kirin Ichiban, Roger Clyne’s Mexican Moonshine and more.

Tickets, which are $55, include food and libation sampling from regional restaurants, food trucks, wineries and breweries. The event takes place 11am–3pm at Centennial Plaza, Peoria City Hall Complex, 9875 North 85th Avenue. For additional information, visit www.devourphoenix.com.

Celebrate Love at Lon’s in February

Valley residents are invited to raise a glass to friendship or romance at Lon’s Last Drop from Feb. 13–16, with a pretty in pink, perfectly balanced Valentini. This “Galentine’s” or Valentine’s Day cocktail is a blend of Flagstaff distillery Canyon Diablo’s Sonoran Rose vodka; Licor 43, which is full of aromas of vanilla and orange; homemade local pomegranate molasses, a splash of fresh local lemon juice and topped with a Luxardo Maraschino foam. $14

Or toast to love at Lon’s at The Hermosa, which was named by Food & Wine Magazine as “The Most Romantic Restaurant in Arizona” in 2018. Chef Jeremy Pacheco and the Lon’s culinary team have created a three-course menu that pairs perfectly with one of the nearly 700 wines featured on the restaurant’s award-winning wine list. Menu highlights include Rovey Family Farms Wagyu Beef Duo: Red Wine Braised Short Ribs & Grilled Striploin, Hawaiian Snapper or Smoked Sonoma Valley Duck Breast. Sweet finishes include the Rose Water-Strawberry Panna Cotta or a decadent Flourless Chocolate Cake. (Cost: $95 with enhancements, plus tax and gratuity.) Celebrate Valentine’s Day Friday, Feb. 14, from 5–10pm. Reservations are required: 602.955.7878 or lons.com.

The Hermosa Inn is located at 5532 North Palo Cristi Road in Paradise Valley.

Arizona Cocktail Weekend: Three Signature Events — One Spectacular February Weekend

The ‘Cocktail Carnival’ rides into Phoenix this February as the ninth annual Arizona Cocktail Weekend(AZCW) returns Feb. 15–17, with an amazing lineup of events, parties, seminars and cocktail-fueled ballyhoo. All-new for 2020, AZCW has partnered with Phoenix based and nationally renowned, Walter Productions to host the Cocktail Carnival kickoff party Saturday, Feb. 15, sure to be their largest, most fantastic party yet at their arts gallery and events space, Walter Where?House.

Headlined by a barnstorming performance by the 20-person national touring marching band, MarchFourth (www.marchfourthband.com) and housed inside this former 1940s paper mill that’s been transformed into a magical dream factory complete with stilt walkers and twirling acrobats, the Cocktail Carnival at Walter Where?House will have to been seen to be believed. Combined with show-stopping cocktails and spirits served up by than 30 of the biggest and brightest brands in the business.

“The 2020 Arizona Cocktail Weekend and the Cocktail Carnival is going to one amazingly spectacular event,” says co-founder, Ross Simon. “Aside from the world’s best liquor brands showcasing exciting new offerings and cutting-edge bartending and techniques inside custom-staged vignettes, the famously fun MarchFourth band will be playing while walking amidst the crowd. Plus, with Walter Productions co-producing, you know they will bring their signature over-the-top artistic elements, to this one-of-a-kind event. It’s going to be one hell of a show.”

Cocktail Weekend includes the return of Top Bars Sunday, Feb. 16., the annual tasting event showcasing pop-up versions of the finest cocktail lounges from around the state, country and across the globe, all in one location. Held at the historic warehouse and newly renovated event venue, The Croft, the 2020 lineup is available on the event website.

Finally, on President’s Day (Monday, Feb. 17), it’s the return of the highly anticipated Last Slinger Standing bartending competition, pitting top mixologists from across the Southwest in a live head-to-head bartending competition. Hosted by Young’s Market Company at their “7th & Union” building (aka the standalone bar located on the property of the Phoenix based liquor distributor), come cheer on as 2019 winner, Chanel Godwin-McMaken of Little Rituals defends her crown in front of a crowd of nearly 1,000 cheering cocktail fans.

Top lounges, bars and restaurants across Downtown Phoenix and up and down Central Phoenix’s Light Rail will be hosting AZCW events, dinners and exclusive cocktail tastings. Participating venues include Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour, Blue Hound & Luster Rooftop Pool Bar, Chico Malo, Dust Cutter, Little Rituals, Melinda’s Alley, Nook Kitchen, So Far, So Good at The Churchill, The Breadfruit & Rum Bar and Ziggy’s Stardust.

Once again Arizona Cocktail Weekend is dedicated to giving back to the local community, including its own dedicated 501(c)(3) charity, The Jupiter Foundation, which in 2020 is focused on supporting beneficiaries such as Local First Arizona Foundation

For additional information and tickets, visit www.arizonacocktailweekend.com.

James Beard Foundation Pop-Up Dinner to Celebrate Diversity of American Cooking

Phoenix will welcome the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America® Wednesday, Feb. 26, for a pop-up dinner as part of the larger national tour, which brings delicious food and thought-provoking conversation surrounding the nonprofit’s mission of cultivating a better food world for all.

Spotlighting issues within the Foundation’s Good Food for Good™ platform, including food waste reduction, sustainability, inclusivity and chef advocacy, the seventh annual cross-country food series will highlight the organization’s mission-forward impact programs and initiatives, while dishing out tasty bites to the food-loving community of Phoenix.

Taste America’s Phoenix Pop Up Dinner starts at 6pm Wednesday, Feb. 26, at Wrigley Mansion. The intimate dinner will feature a menu crafted by Taste America visiting all-star Kristen Kish and local all-star and host Chef Christopher Gross. The dinner will celebrate the diverse flavors, cuisines, and backgrounds that contribute to American cooking.

The Foundation has partnered with Food Recovery Network to ensure that Taste America events are Food Recovery Verified, meaning that all surplus food from the series will be recovered and donated to hunger-fighting nonprofits, who support food-insecure individuals, in each city. Through Food Recovery Verified, the Foundation can do its part to reduce food waste and hunger at the community level. 

This year marks the seventh time that the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America has visited Phoenix. Expanding for the first time to span nearly a full year, Taste America 2019–20 will travel to Atlanta; Boston; Charleston, SC; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Houston; Kansas City, MO; Los Angeles; Louisville, KY; Miami; Minneapolis/St. Paul; Nashville; New Orleans; Philadelphia; Portland, OR; San Francisco; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.

Tickets start at $225. For a more exclusive experience, tickets for dining in a private dining room are available for $500 and up to $1,000 for a personal experience while dining in the kitchen. The Taste America Phoenix Pop-Up Dinner is presented by Capital One. Additional information can be found at www.jamesbeard.org/events/taste-america-phoenix-pop-up-dinner.

Nook Kitchen Re-opens in New Arcadia Location

Nook Kitchen in Arcadia re-opened Dec. 3 in a larger location at 4231 East Indian School Road, Phoenix, a half mile down the road from its original spot.

Nook’s first restaurant opened in Fall 2013 on the southeast corner of 36th Street and Indian School. The restaurant was a small, cozy space in Arcadia and evolved into Nook Kitchen to distinguish it as a restaurant instead of what some thought was a bookstore.

Nook Kitchen offers original recipes and a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

The new location will be larger with 3,400 square feet compared to the original at 2,000 square feet. New interiors are a mix of glam and comfort, with overlays of Italian tradition in a decidedly modern setting.

“Our food is Modern American with Italian roots,” said Frank Vairo, owner of Nook Kitchen along with Chef Nick LaRosa and S. Barrett Rinzler of Square One Concepts. “The new interiors tell a similar story with the help of our in-house designers, CK Studio. Nook Kitchen’s iconic blue door welcomes you into the newly renovated space that has been dramatically transformed into an intimate dining experience. The interior is refined and sophisticated with a mix of dark and monochromatic patterns accented with pops of red and brass. The bold Instagram mural located on the front face of the building is sure to grab one’s eye and direct them into the chic and stylish new build.”

The new location has a larger black marble bar, and a larger dining area overall featuring large booths to accommodate big parties, and a floor-to-ceiling upholstered wall of banquettes that delivers inviting spaces for guests to enjoy leisurely, cozy dining.

A pizza counter invites diners to watch pizza-making action up close with the golden Acunto M. Napoli pizza oven imported from Naples, Italy, said to be the birthplace of pizza. Designed and built by hand by the Acunto family over four generations for more than 125 years, the authentic pizza oven is said to be “foundational” to the development of pizza itself.

Rinzler, president and CEO of Square One Concepts, and partner in this venture added: “The food is fantastic at Nook. The neighborhood is incredible and we’re delighted to join Frank and Nick on this newest version of Nook Kitchen. We know everyone in the area has been waiting for us to open and we’re pleased that Nick is at it again, delivering an excellent menu.”

Nook Kitchen in Arcadia presents a new menu, too, of modern American selections by Chef LaRosa, ranging from handcrafted pastas including Spaghetti and Meatballs, a lighter Ricotta Gnocchi and Joe’s Lasagna, in addition to entrees such as Espresso Rubbed Prime Filet, “Everything Salmon,” a combo of short rib and sirloin in a Handcrafted Burger, with plenty of tempting “beginnings” that include a popular holdover from the previous Nook Kitchen “Arancini” but adding Brussels Chips and Fried Calamari, among others. The new roster features refreshing custom cocktails and a wine list that doesn’t disappoint.

Nook Kitchen retains its celebrated location in Downtown Phoenix inside the Hilton Garden Inn, one that earned a 2016 Foodist Award by AZ BIG Media, and critically noted by Phoenix New Times for its city views, being among best new restaurants, Top 5 Places to Eat, among other accolades. The Vairo-LaRosa duo intend to continue the quality flavors that have earned them critical acclaim.

Nook Kitchen is located at 4231 East Indian School Road. Visit nookkitchen.com for more information.

Christmas ‘Miracle’ Pop-Up Bar Returns to Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails

The holiday season is here and amid the hustle and bustle those who are looking for delicious craft cocktails, festive décor and maybe a place to hide from the in-laws are in luck. The holiday-themed pop-up cocktail bar “Miracle” is returning to Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails for the second year.

Through Christmas Day, holiday revelers around the Valley can descend on the Downtown Phoenix hotspot as this year’s pop-up extends beyond the bar and transforms the entire restaurant into an over-the-top winter wonderland. Miracle at Blue Hound will feature a new menu of seasonally themed cocktails and dishes served in a festive setting of nostalgic vintage Christmas decor. Think thousands of twinkling lights, ceilings swirling with icicles, colorful garland and ribbon and other holiday-themed knickknacks. Bartenders and staff will don ugly sweaters and festive holiday attire as well.

“This year, we’re dialing it up even more by creating a fully immersive holiday experience throughout the entire restaurant. Whether you’re looking to host a festive luncheon with colleagues in the dining room, grab a cocktail in the bar with friends or enjoy an unforgettable date night on our patio overlooking the ice rink, Miracle at Blue Hound really serves as the holiday headquarters in Downtown Phoenix,” said Wade Gruenewald, general manager, restaurants and bars at Blue Hound. “You never know how people will respond when you introduce a brand-new concept to the market and we were blown away by the 5,000 locals and hotel guests that visited Miracle at Blue Hound last year.”

This year’s cocktail menu will feature nine Christmas concoctions, including a number of favorites from last year’s menu including:

  • Snowball Old Fashioned ($16): Caramelized pecan bourbon, spiced molasses syrup, wormwood bitters and orange essence.
  • Bad Santa ($14): Rum, Batavia Arrack, black chai tea, date-infused oat milk and vanilla syrup. Served hot.
  • Koala-La La La, La La La La ($16): Gin, pine tea cordial, grapefruit oleo and Eucalyptus bitters.
  • Gingerbread Flip ($16): Rye whiskey, gingerbread syrup, tiki bitters, whole egg and ginger snap cookie crumbs.
  • Yippie Ki Yay Mother F****r! ($16): Barbados rum, Cachaça, Trinidad Overproof Rum, purple yam, coconut orgeat and pineapple.
  • Jingle Balls Nog ($14): Brown butter and cinnamon fat-washed cognac, Amontillado Sherry, almond milk, cream, sugar, egg, vanilla and nutmeg.
  • Christmas Carol Barrel ($16): Blanco Tequila, coffee liqueur, coco-nib infused orange and cognac liqueur, iced hot chocolate and Mexican spices.

In addition to the cocktails, Executive Chef Dushyant Singh is also getting into the spirit by debuting five new dishes that will be added to the regular lunch and dinner menus throughout the season. These include the Baa, No Humbug ($18) with three lamb chops, curry pickled shallots, quince squash puree and house mint jelly; Holiday Fries ($9) with sweet potato frites, house spice dust and white barbecue sauce; Soup for You ($9) with roasted heirloom carrots, honey crisp apple soup, ginger espuma and apple chips. The popular Hammy Sammy from last year’s menu will also be making a comeback as the Bringing Hammy Back ($13) with black forest ham, speck, Havarti, Tillamook cheddar, brie poblano spread and Noble bread.

For those who feel one night of Miracle just won’t be enough, Kimpton Hotel Palomar Phoenix is also offering the “Miracle Experience” stay package with best flexible rates starting from $179 per night. Available to book through Tuesday, Dec. 24, the package includes overnight accommodations in a Deluxe Guestroom, a $50 dining credit at Blue Hound, two tickets to CitySkate at CityScape Phoenix with skate rentals included and two Miracle holiday mugs. To book a stay, visit www.hotelpalomar-phoenix.com.

Miracle at Blue Hound will be open Sunday to Thursday from 11am to midnight and Friday and Saturday from 11am to 1am. For more information about Miracle at Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails, visit www.bluehoundkitchen.com or call 602.258.0231. For more information about the Miracle pop-up, visit www.miraclepopup.com.

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