The 2nd Annual Tucson 23 – A Mexican Food Festival is set to make this Saturday one of the most unforgettable culinary experiences of the summer. Before the main event kicks off, we’re happy to have one of Tucson’s great chefs serving up an exclusive VIP dinner experience on Friday night, June 16th. We sat down with the Executive Chef of Elvira’s Restaurant – Downtown Tucson, Michael Byrer, to discuss what inspiration went into some of the night’s delicious courses and what kinds of unique pairings you can expect to find.
Southwestern and Mexican cooking is iconic thanks to so many delectable ingredients, but few are as well-known as dried chilies and nopales. Whether paired together or separately, Byrer promises to infuse these ingredients into many of the courses in ways that are both delightfully unfamiliar and comforting. “We want our guests to walk away feeling like they got a chance to experience Mexican and Southwestern flavors in a new way without omitting the comforting familiar ingredients of the region,” says Byrer, “Infusing classical dishes from around the world like duck confit with the spice of Mexican cuisine is something you won’t experience anywhere else in the country.” Byrer prides himself on bringing world cuisine into the culture of our traditional Tucson offerings with a bang. “One of our most unique dishes we’re serving tonight is a Scallop Ceviche with a Lemon Grass, Wasabi, and Lime Broth, with a side of Chayote Squash topped with Chili Oil and Fried Shallots.”
Byrer was eager to get back to completing his menu for this amazing Friday night, but before we let him go we asked what he would want his guests to remember going into this VIP dinner. “The most important thing to remember with our dishes is Spice and Balance. Those two words are more important than anything. Nailing that balance between heat and our other flavors takes an amazing amount of practice and trial and error.” Friday’s VIP Dinner is sure to please so don’t miss out! Limited seating is still available to so make your reservation now! Call (520) 791-6064 for tickets and details.
With just one week to go before the 2nd Annual Tucson 23 – A Mexican Food Festival kicks off, we’re continuing to delve deeper into some of our featured local chefs set to dazzle your palette at this year’s festival. This week we sat down with the sweet tooth expert herself and owner of Churros el Rey, Perla Dow, to discuss what makes churros so iconic and what it’s like starting up a food truck from scratch.
For many residents of the Southwest, there’s nothing more iconic in the summer time than the sweet joys of a warm sugary churro. “When I was growing up, we would go to the fair and the first thing you look for is churros,” says Perla, reminiscing on her childhood love of the classic treat. “If you go there during the Day of the Dead in particular you’ll find 20 churro stands and it’s so exciting. They just make people’s day.” Whether you get them from the fair or a food truck, the ever-present and growing line of sweet tooth fanatics patiently waiting is a clear sign you’ve found great churros. Perla got to experience what people are willing to do for truly amazing churro first hand when she first opened Churros el Rey. “When we first started, I put up a lot of ads on Facebook announcing when we were going to open. When we finally opened, it was August 1st and it was really hot, we didn’t have shade on our truck yet and there was a lot of mosquitoes which I didn’t expect. Then our dough machine broke before we even started and there was a lot of people, but everyone was very patient. They’ll come from far away to try good churros, we just had someone tell us that they came from Fresno, California to try our churros.”
Even with a rough start to her new business, Perla pushed on, eventually getting herself and her guests some more than welcome shade and buying a fresh new dough machine to help keep up with her growing lines of fans. It’s more than just her love for this comforting desert that inspired Perla to start Churros el Rey from scratch though, it’s about something much closer to her heart. “It really started with our mother. She is getting old and it’s getting time for us to look after her. We started everything from scratch, it’s been very motivating knowing that we’ve been able to do everything by ourselves. This is a first-generation business and it’s just a great way to let our grandmother stop working finally and relax in her older years.”
Many food trucks settle for the traditional churro served warm out of a paper bag, but at Churros el Rey, variety is key to their unique style. Every topping from the classic caramel and chocolate to the livelier addition of Pineapple, Cream Cheese, or Sweetened Milk are all waiting to top their delicious churros. If you’re really looking to go all in, stick your spoon into a decadent Churro Sundae dressed with two of your favorite toppings. Is your mouth watering yet? Can’t make it out to their amazing food truck on Park and Irvington? Then don’t miss out on your chance to sample some of their amazing treats at the 2nd Annual Tucson 23 – A Mexican Food Festival at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa on Saturday, June 17th at 6:00pm. We’ll see you there!
With Tucson 23: Mexican Food Festival only a month away, we are delving deeper into some of our local featured chefs to find out what it takes to create truly memorable Southwestern and Mexican cuisine. This week we sat down with Jimmy Beldon, head chef at Reforma Cocina y Cantina, to discuss his personal cooking philosophies, how to keep traditional culinary culture alive, and his advice for new chefs.
Jimmy Beldon has been in the industry for 18 years and like any industry veteran, his passion for creating memorable culinary dishes that consistently impress his guests is the main driving force that gets him through the long nights behind the stove. “You really gotta love what you do. The whole thing about working in a kitchen is you gotta keep it fun,” says Jimmy on his personal cooking philosophies, “That’s usually the biggest thing, I’m always trying to make sure my team is having a good time.” From the moment you walk into Reforma, the energy is unmistakable. The restaurant is beautifully decorated and the staff most certainly love what they do. No matter if you come on a busy Friday night or a calm Tuesday afternoon, everyone from the waitress to the chefs is ready to make your meal a true experience from start to finish. “I really want people to know that when they eat here it’s going to be good and that when they come back it’s going to be just as good if not better. Consistency is first and foremost in any restaurant.”
Even a short look through Reforma’s menu shows Jimmy’s passion for keeping traditional Southwestern and Mexican cuisine alive in the modern age of constantly evolving flavors. From their Horchata French Toast to their fresh Calabacitas, the familiar tastes of the dishes culinary roots still shine through even when paired with new original ingredients. “I was born and raised in Tucson and I’ve been cooking and eating traditional local cuisine my whole life. Southwestern cooking is about creating very robust flavors that just pop. One of my favorite things to do is bridge in other flavors from around the world and find a way to meld them with traditional Southwestern flavors. We try to put a more modern take on Mexican food and bring in ingredients that you wouldn’t normally see like our Pork Belly Tacos or taking our Chili Relleno and doing something more with it.” Jimmy has never been one to shy away from a challenge and he prides himself on balancing the line between traditional and modern, while still paying respects to the dish. He occasionally gets a little push back from his “crazier” ideas, but in the end, he knows his ingredients well and always promises to wow his guests with every new menu addition. “The mole poblano that we make here was such a challenge for me, all the flavors that you have to bring together. Often it comes down to people saying why not just use someone else’s recipe, but I’d rather make the mistakes, perfect it and create something new. We do a duck confit here and without that sauce it would be just like any other duck confit."
Before letting Jimmy get back to feeding his hungry guests at Reforma, we had to ask him what advice, if any, he would like to pass on to young local chefs studying to carry on the new generation of Southwestern and Mexican cuisine. “Cooking is really something you have to look deep inside yourself about and ask yourself if this is really something that you wanna do, because it’s a lot of work. Some people think they wanna do it, because they watch all these cooking shows and they’re like yeah I wanna do that. But it’s different once you get in there, so it has to be something you’re into and you can’t just be doing it for the money.
Want to see what Jimmy Beldon can pull off first hand? Join us for the 2nd Annual Tucson 23: Mexican Food Festival at the JW Marriott Resort & Spa, Saturday, June 17th to try some of the amazing food you can expect from Reforma and so many other amazing restaurants along Tucson’s famous 23 miles of Mexican food!
Find out more about the event and special room rates for the weekend at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa HERE: https://www.saaca.org/tucson23.html
Creative arts therapist, Nikki Bellio, has done wonders for the residents of The Fountains at La Cholla through her inventive and crafty art actives. She strives to bring smiles to everyone by engaging them in the process of creating something they can be proud of.
“Everyone can do creative projects and have a good time in the process!” – Nikki Bellio
Whether they’re crafting beautiful Japanese Lanterns and Shamrocks to decorate the common areas or sewing gorgeous shrugs and woven hand bags, the residents are always looking forward to Nikki’s classes. Nikki is constantly engaging with the residents to help develop new and creative ideas every week. Here are some of the wonderful things they've created so far:
Roche Tissue Diagnostics, Inc. (known locally as Ventana Medical Systems) and Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance invite you to a wonderful night of live music, complimentary refreshments and an exhibition of contemporary art, sculptures, and assemblage from renown local artist David Adix, encompassing 30 years of his work.
A Deeper Look Inside the Artist
Adix earned his Masters Degree in Theater Arts from the University of Arizona and quickly began to hone in his distinct style and skill for discovering the beauty or story in an object and then building a piece around it. As a young artist, Adix worked at local restaurant, Café Terracotta, where he would render fabulously colorful portraits of the guests on the paper table cloths. During his 20s and 30s, Adix went through a period of personal transformation and soul searching, which was greatly inspired by now close friend and artist Dan Leach. Dan came to Tucson to work on a MFA in the acting training program at the U of A and met Adix at Café Terracotta where they soon discovered they had much in common. Dan invited him to his home, where his vast art collection immediately awoke something in Adix that he hadn't experienced before. This collection opened his eyes to the depth, range and energy an artist can provoke with their work. This "informal education" encouraged him to explore new styles of art that he had never worked with before.
Subtraction and Assemblance
The use of found/available materials has become a staple of Adix's work, intentionally crafted to stir up deeply tied memories to the past. Many artists create work as a way of extending themselves into the medium, but as Adix puts it, “I create art not so much to express myself, but to disappear”. Through his use of subtractive techniques, the art of carving away raw materials to create a piece, that distress the surfaces of his sculptures to the gossamer wax that creates ghostly fields on his collage works, he works to transport his audience through “portals” connecting them to memories and inspiring new connections in themselves.
The exhibition will span across David Adix’s 30 year career and will include 167 unique pieces. Pieces will range from magnificent steel statues and woven wire art to intricate collages made from recycled materials. The show includes work from public and private collections, as well as new work, all available for sale. The artwork will be showcased and sold at the Ventana Gallery, and the public is welcome to browse or buy during the length of the exhibit, continuing through July 11, 2017.
Interested in Attending?
David Adix – 30 Years of Construction, Collage & Composition, 1986-2016
Opening Reception: Friday, April 21 from 5 to 7 p.m.
Where: Roche Tissue Diagnostics (Ventana), 1910 E. Innovation Park Dr.
Cost: Free, with refreshments and live acoustic music
Phone: (520) 797-3959
The Ventana Gallery is open to the public, by appointment, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on the first and third Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To schedule an appointment, visitors should call the SAACA at (520) 797-3959. Advance notice of 48 hours is required.
2016 Holiday Dance Round-Up
It’s that time of year and dance productions around town are ready to present their Holiday shows! The different productions of “The Nutcracker” are always amazing and the Holiday Variety Shows are also a real treat. Attending a dance show in the community supports dancers, choreographers, dance studios, venues, and production staff. Make a holiday memory and start a tradition by taking your little ones to a dance show this year. #TucsonDance
Tucson Regional Ballet presents, A Southwest Nutcracker, featuring the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. Ballet Tucson's larger than life production of The Nutcracker is like no other! Whether you are enjoying it as a family tradition or discovering it for the first time, the magic will resonate long after the curtain comes down. Colorful scenery, brilliant costumes, and wonderful dancing create an unforgettable experience for the whole family. Don't miss the holiday classic that has been dazzling and capturing the imagination of Tucson audiences for over 20 years! Event takes place at Tucson Music Hall on Dec. 10th at 2:00pm and 7:30pm and on Dec. 11th at 2:00pm. Tickets range in price from $28-$34. Purchase tickets here.
Spirit of Christmas
8th Annual Spirit of Christmas, by Tucson Dance Academy, is a heartfelt and inspirational holiday celebration featuring over 100 dancers and singers. Part Nutcracker, part Santa/Frosty and an intentional embrace of the spirituality behind the season, Spirit of Christmas is a family show for all ages. Come and enjoy a Tucson “Broadway show” favorite! Shows will take place Sunday, December 11th at 3 p.m. at The University of Arizona’s Centennial Hall, tickets are $28-$34 per person. Learn More Here. December 17 at 4pm and 7:30pm at Desert View Performing Arts Center Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 door, $20 children. Purchase tickets Here.
The Great Russian Nutcracker
Direct from Russia to Tucson, the classic Great Russian Nutcracker will entertain the whole family this Christmas. Experience the exceptional dancing of award-winning principal artists and a company of nearly 40 classically trained dancers. Enchant the whole family with larger than life magical props, a 60 foot growing Christmas tree and spectacular Russian-made costumes and sets. A must-see event, witness the world’s best dancers on stage in your city! Dec. 12 and Dec. 13th at 7:00pm at Centennial Hall. Purchase Tickets Here.
Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Ballet!
You are cordially invited to join Tucson's own Ballet Rincon as it presents its 15th Annual production of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Ballet at Vail Theatre of the Arts on Dec.16th at 7:00pm and Dec.17th, 2016 at 2:00pm and 7:00pm. Ticket sections and prices vary, Orchestra Section: $16 per adult or $14 per child age 11 and under/seniors 55+, Mezzanine Section: $12 per adult or $10 per child age 11 and under/seniors 55+. Purchase Tickets Here.
“Seasons” Winter Dance Showcase
Academy dancers of all ages will light up the stage performing choreography in various styles of dance highlighting the four seasons. Purchase tickets here.
Ballet Tucson will grace the stage of the University of Arizona’s Centennial Hall once again, performing The Nutcracker just in time for Christmas. Experience Clara’s magical journey through the Land of Snow and Kingdom of the Sweets with life-size toy soldiers, a giant Christmas tree, swirling snowflakes, and dancing confections with the whole family!
Tickets range in price from $28 to $56 with discounts for students, children, seniors, and military. The show will play at various times Dec. 22nd through Dec. 24th. Purchase tickets here.