For Ryan Clark, chef at Agustin Kitchen, being a board member at Slow Food Southern Arizona gives him the opportunity to give back to a community he both believes in and is a part of. His annual F & B Tasting event works as a way for him to bring all of the factions of that community together for a single day of dining and imbibing locally.
This year, like the year before, he will use his restaurant and the Mercado San Agustin courtyard outdoors as the event's setting when it returns on Sunday, June 7.
From 5:30 until 7:30 p.m., attendees can sample bites from Blu A Wine & Cheese Stop, Proper, Prep and Pastry, Agustin Kitchen, Acacia Real Food & Cocktails, Zona 78, Seis Kitchen & Catering and Caridad Community Kitchen. The focus is to use fresh, local and seasonal ingredients, which is what really makes the event exciting to Clark each year, even though the vendor list is largely the same.
"You get to see how everyone has progressed each year and what they're using for spring and summer," Clark says. "You can also taste the new vintages of wine."
Including local vintners and brewers was just as important for Clark, though. This year's line-up features Callaghan Vineyards, Arizona Stronghold, Pillsbury Wine Co. and Dos Cabezas Wineworks on the wine side of things and Dragoon Brewing Co., Ten55 Brewing, Borderlands Brewing Co. and Old Bisbee Brewing Co. for beer.
"A lot of people just pick up the phone and order Newcastle or something for their events," he says. "That's no fun."
To go one step further, Clark is partnering with Dragoon Brewing on a dish and beer pairing. The beer will be a yet to be released special brew called Ojo Blanco, which Clark plans to pair with a seafood dish to be created.
Although tying the community to their food is one of the major themes of the event, Clark says it's one of Slow Food Southern Arizona's biggest fundraisers for the year. That money, in turn, goes to $1000 scholarships to FERN and CCAP for teens to either attend culinary school or be able to participate in month-long stage programs in professional kitchens.
Despite the fact that the hugely successful local food tasting event sells out every year, Clark says it will likely remain just a once a year event. He has a restaurant to run, after all.
You can buy your ticket now via the Eventbrite page
for $45. Raffle tickets are $5 and you can make an additional donation to Slow Food Southern Arizona on the page as well. However, you will want to buy your tickets soon since the event is capped at 200 tickets. In the end, the intimate size is just another factor that sets this tasting event apart.
"It's such a small setting," Clark says. "It's like cooking dinner for four at home versus for a hundred at the restaurant."