The James Beard Foundation Presents
Taste America 2019
text and photos courtesy of Rose+Moser+Allyn Public and Online Relations

Above: Taste America 2019 returns to Phoenix for two days of food-filled events.

The James Beard Foundation’s 2019 Taste America® cross-country culinary series returns to the Valley on September 19-20 for two days of food-filled events. Now in its ninth year, Taste America celebrates the country’s diverse culinary culture and the important role that chefs play in advocating for a more delicious, sustainable and equitable food world. Presented by Capital One, this year’s event will travel to 20 cities.

The Phoenix itinerary will kick off on Thursday, September 19 with the Raising The Bar reception. Held at Young’s Market Company’s Seventh and Union, guests will gather at 6 p.m. for a meet-and-greet with the participating rising-star mixologists. The five talented “movers and shakers” include Kyla Dahl from the Pigtails Cocktail Bar, Keifer Gilbert from Toca Madera, Chanel Godwin-McMaken from Little Rituals, Matt Steward from Under Tow and Henry Whittaker from The Brickyard. 

Above: Celebrated local chefs will prepare a pre-dinner spread as well as a three-course gourmet dinner at Royal Palms Resort & Spa.

To complement the cocktails, a variety of gourmet tasting items will be prepared by chefs Christopher Brugman of Castle Hot Springs, Dom Ruggiero of Hush Public House, Tamara Stanger of Cotton & Copper, Brett Vibber of Cartwright’s Modern Cuisine and Juan Zamora of Chula Seafood.

The Gala Benefit Dinner will be held at Royal Palms Resort & Spa on the following evening, Friday, September 20. Guests are invited to arrive at 7 p.m. for a pre-dinner spread prepared by five celebrated local chefs; Cat Bunnag from Glai Baan, Stephen Jones from The Larder & The Delta, Tandy Peterson from Mowry & Cotton, Ryan Swanson from Kai, and Claudio Urciuoli from Pa’La.

Above: The annual Taste of America fundraiser is a popular Valley event. Photo taken at Taste of America 2018.

The culinary dream team, comprised of Arizona’s top chefs plus Visiting National All-Star Chef Tiffany Derry and the Local All-Star Chef Danielle Leoni of The Breadfruit and Rum Bar, will create a gourmet three-course menu for the seated dinner. The evening also includes a silent and live auction and will conclude with a dessert reception created by Sweet Dee’s Bakeshop Chef Danielle O’ Day and Royal Palms Resort & Spa Chef Hollie Layman-Sanders.

A portion of the proceeds from the benefit dinner will directly contribute to the Foundation’s Scholarship Programs. Established in 1991, the scholarship program assists aspiring and established culinary professionals who plan to further their education at a licensed or accredited culinary school or hospitality institution, college or university. In the past 25 years, the program has not only grown in visibility and financial scope, but in the array of subjects its recipients have embraced. As of 2018, the Foundation will have awarded nearly $8 million in financial aid to 2,000 recipients. For more information, visit

Above: The 2019 Raising the Bar Reception will be held at Seventh and Union. 

WHAT: Raising the Bar Reception
WHEN: Thursday, September 19, 6 p.m.
WHERE: Seventh and Union, 402 South 54th Place, Phoenix
INFO: or 480.951.2950.
CONTACT: Robyn Lee at or 480.951.2950.
ATTIRE: Smart Attire
TICKETS: General Admission, $65, VIP Ticket, $100.

WHAT: Gala Benefit Dinner
WHEN: Friday, September 20, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
WHERE: Royal Palms Resort & Spa, 5200 East Camelback Road, Phoenix
INFO: or 480.951.2950.
CONTACT: Robyn Lee at or 480.951.2950.
ATTIRE: Cocktail Attire
TICKETS: All-Star Pass, $275, VIP Ticket, $500. Tables are available.