The dictionary defines nirvana as a state of perfect happiness, so it seems a fitting name for the newest culinary festival to hit Scottsdale, AZ. Nirvana, a culinary festival hosted by Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa debuted in April. The star-studded event, with plans to return next spring, brings the biggest names in the culinary world to Scottsdale for one delicious weekend. Check out some of what this year offered and mark your calendars for the next “flavorful state of mind” at Nirvana culinary festival at Sanctuary.

The 2017 Nirvana Culinary Festival

The first Nirvana Culinary Festival was an event to remember. Sanctuary’s own star Executive Chef Beau MacMillan played host to a lineup of celebrity chefs from across Phoenix and the country. Tickets and information will be available closer to the 2018 event online at www.NirvanaFoodandWine.com.

Nirvana Culinary Festival

Sanctuary on Camelback was the setting for the first Nirvana Culinary Festival

A portion of the 2017 proceeds went to benefit HopeKids, an organization that provides ongoing events, activities and support community for families who have a child with cancer or other life-threatening medical condition.

I was able to attend one of the evening events, Best of the West. Take a look at that event and the other great events featured throughout the star-studded weekend. Be sure to check back on the website for the 2018 event—and we’ll be sending out reminders here on Wander!

Torch

Nirvana kicked off with Torch, a poolside Polynesian fantasy.

Nirvana culinary festival

Torch kicks off the first event for Nirvana. Photo courtesy Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

This popular event was hosted by celebrity chef and television personality Robert Irvine and local celebrity mixologist Jason Asher, owner of Counter Intuitive and Undertow.

Nirvana culinary festival

Mixologists competed for the title of Judge’s Choice and People’s Choice. Photo courtesy Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

The event took place on Thursday evening of the event at the Infinity Pool and Lawn. Mixologists competed at eight stations as guests and an esteemed panel of judges chose the Judge’s Choice and People’s Choice award winners for the evening.

Tickets for the event were $125 per person.

Nirvana Culinary Festival

The Infinity Pool with a sunset over Camelback Mountain was a perfect backdrop for the opening of Nirvana. Photo courtesy Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

Birds and Bubbles

Friday night brought Birds and Bubbles to The Views Ballroom at Sanctuary, hosted by chef, restaurateur, author and television personality Todd English.

Nirvana Culinary Festival

Chef Beau MacMillan and Chef Todd English at Birds and Bubbles. Photo courtesy Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

In my opinion, there’s not much better than fried chicken and Champagne. Seriously. I’m from the south, so I’m always all about fried chicken and I could drink Champagne for every meal. I wasn’t able to attend this event, but it looks amazing. It’s on my calendar for next year!

Nirvana Culinary Festival

There was a variety of fried chicken served up by the guest chefs. Photo courtesy Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

The all-star line-up included local chefs Stephen Jones, Cullen Campbell, Justin Beckett, Jeremy Pacheco, Gio Osso and Beau MacMillan. They were joined by visiting chefs from Palm Beach, Florida: Clay Conley and Lindsay Autry.

Nirvana Culinary Festival

There were plenty of bubbles, courtesy Moët & Chandon available. Photo courtesy Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

Festival goers who booked VIP admission had an extra 45 minutes with the chefs and a few extra treats—not to mention 45 more minutes with bubbles.

Nirvana Culinary Festival

Music was provided by D. Vincent Williams & the Nashville Allstars. Photo courtesy Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

To top the evening off, there was entertainment by American country singer/songwriter D. Vincent Williams and the Nashville Allstars.

The event was on Friday evening from 7 to 10 pm and tickets were $135 per person ($225 for VIP admission).

Golf Tournament at Nirvana Culinary Festival

It’s Arizona in April, so a golf tournament is a given for an event!  This one took place on Saturday morning at the beautiful new Mountain Shadows Resort.

Nirvana Culinary Festival

The Celebrity Golf Tournament was presented by Huss Brewing Company and held at the base of Camelback Mountain at the new Mountain Shadows Resort. Photo courtesy Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

Each foursome was paired with a renowned chef, star mixologist or notable sports figure for a fun-filled celebrity golf tournament at the beautiful new course at the base of Camelback Mountain.

There was plenty of food, beer and spirits for the memorable day. The cost was $400 per player with a noon tee time.

Best of the West

I attended Best of the West with my assistant editor Kamilla Graham and we had a magnificent evening. This final evening event of Nirvana Culinary Festival was hosted by chef/restauranteur and Chopped judge Scott Conant at Praying Monk and elements restaurant. It was a gorgeous evening and we watched the sun set behind Camelback as the evening got underway.

Nirvana culinary festival

Best of the West was hosted by Chef Scott Conant (left) shown with Beau MacMillan (right). Photo courtesy Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

And yes, I started the evening with a lovely glass of sparkling rosé and a toast to these lovely desert sunsets that I have grown to love so well. Then it was time to explore the amazing flavors.

Nirvana Culinary Festival

Enjoying a glass of sparkling rosé at jade bar during Best of the West. Photo by Susan Lanier-Graham

More than a dozen elegant restaurant stations were manned by chefs across the West. While I enjoyed everything, I did find a few favorites.

For starters, the Moroccan Spiced Rack of Lamb courtesy Chef Charles Wiley of Hearth at Mountain Shadows. I had just enjoyed them the week before at Hearth and smelling those spices set my mouth watering.

Nirvana culinary festival

Moroccan Spiced Rack of Lamb courtesy Chef Charles Wiley of Hearth at Mountain Shadows. Photo courtesy Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

Another amazing dish was courtesy of Chef Russell LaCasce at Hotel Valley Ho’s ZuZu. Chef served up a thick slab of pork belly with a lovely blend of herbs and spice that made my mouth sing.

Nirvana culinary festival

Pork belly dish from Chef Russell LaCasce at Hotel Valley Ho. Photo courtesy Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

I also enjoyed the grilled octopus from Mora Italian. And yes, I have to admit this was another dish I had enjoyed before Nirvana. It is one of my favorite bites at Mora and it tasted even better that night on Sanctuary’s patio.

Nirvana culinary festival

Grilled octopus from Mora. Photo courtesy Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

My favorite bite of the night was from Samantha Sanz at Talavera at Four Seasons Scottsdale. She offered us Foie Gras Churros served with spiced mole sugar and hibiscus berry jam. Oh my! This was beyond decadent. Chef Samantha has a magical touch in the kitchen and this bite proved it.

Nirvana Culinary Festival

Foie Gras Churros from Chef Samantha Sanz at Talavera. Photo courtesy Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

The Best of the West event was held on Saturday evening from 7 to 10 pm. It was $145 per person, with VIP admission for $225. VIP guests were given early access and extra time with the chefs.

New Orleans Jazz & Bourbon Brunch

The final event of Nirvana Culinary Festival came to an end on Sunday with a New Orleans-style jazz brunch. And what an end it was!

Nirvana Culinary Festival

New Orleans Jazz & Bourbon Brunch was the final event of Nirvana Culinary Festival. Photo courtesy Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

Complete with live music and a Bourbon twist.

Nirvana Culinary Festival

Bulleit Bourbon was front and center at the Jazz & Bourbon Brunch. Photo courtesy Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

This sit-down event included all of your Southern favorites, from étouffée to beignets.

Nirvana Culinary Festival

New Orleans style cuisine rocked the house at Jazz & Bourbon Brunch. Photo courtesy Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

The brunch was held at elements and the cost was $85 per person.

Nirvana Culinary Festival in 2018

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa is a gorgeous luxury boutique resort on Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley. It is a beautiful property with an award-winning restaurant under the helm of celebrity Chef Beau MacMillan.

Although no date is set for Nirvana Culinary Festival in 2018, the resort hopes to bring the festival back for another great year. Be sure to check back on WanderWithWonder.com so you can book your tickets early. You can also book a room for the weekend at Sanctuary and make it a culinary event to remember.

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