By Connor Dziawura
Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., people from around the Valley gather at Central Avenue and Pierce Street to explore, learn about and support the farmers and businesses that comprise the Open Air Market at the Phoenix Public Market.
Looking to add a new twist, however, the weekly program and its nonprofit founder, Community Food Connections, ultimately created a standalone companion experience: PHX Pheast.
“We’re always looking for ways to support our farmers and all of our vendors,” says Community Food Connections Board President Brian Hines. “We thought it would be a fun idea and unique in terms of events going on around the Valley to pair each of our farmers up with a local chef to really showcase different chefs and farmers and what they each can do.”
By pairing local chefs and restaurants with farmers and growers, guests can “Taste the Market” at the inaugural PHX Pheast this November. Set from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday, November 11, ticket holders can sample an array of different foods prepared as well as meet and learn about those who crafted them.
“We’ll have 10-by-10 tents set up, so each farm-chef team will be preparing a unique bite, like a 4-ounce bite, for everybody to try,” Hines says. “Everybody can go to each of the different farm-and-chef teams to try something different.”
Just a few of the diverse pairings set for PHX Pheast include the larder + the delta executive chef Stephen Jones highlighting farmer David Vose of Blue Sky Organic Farms, The Breadfruit & Rum Bar executive chef and owner Danielle Leoni highlighting Community Exchange Table, and Gallo Blanco executive chef and owner Doug Robson highlighting grower Michael Crowe of Southwest Mushrooms. Twelve combinations are planned. Some chefs will offer vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
The event ultimately serves as a fundraiser for the Phoenix Public Market, from which Hines says the diverse pairings can seek fresh ingredients. Since its inception in 2005, the weekly gathering has grown from around 14 vendors to more than 80.
“It’s going to be a great benefit for our farmers,” Hines explains. “All the proceeds will go back into supporting the farms that are at our market each week.”
Cellar 433 will serve as the event’s wine sponsor, while SanTan Brewing Company will be the beer partner. A unique cocktail is also in the works for the event.
Tatiana Crespo will set the mood for the evening with live music, and there will be a silent auction.
Tickets cost $75 and include food and two drinks. Additional drink tickets cost $5. Hines encourages interested patrons buy event tickets online, in advance.
“People are always coming to the market and buying produce, so it’s a great way to support the farmers that they see every week and an opportunity to try out different chefs in one space,” Hines says.