In celebration of Arizona’s robust independent dining scene, unique food culture, and culinary personalities, the Devour Culinary Classic is proud to announce our VIP Lounge lineup for the 2017 year.
VIP Lounge attendees enjoy all-day access to the day’s events but with additional and exclusive access to our VIP food and beverage teams in a comfortable, seated space with a bird’s-eye view of festivities. See our developing list of this year’s VIP ticket inclusions.
VIP Lounge Sponsors
CHEF JEFF SMEDSTAD
Jeff Smedstad is the author of The Elote Café Cookbook, and is chef and owner of Elote Cafe located in Sedona, Arizona. A graduate of Scottsdale Culinary Institute, Jeff has been cooking professionally for over twenty years, most of which has been dedicated to Mexican cuisine. Before opening Elote Cafe, he was the chef and partner for Los Sombreros Mexican Restaurant located in Scottsdale Arizona for 12 years. Mexican food has long been a passion of Jeff’s; he started his studies under Susana Trilling in Oaxaca, Mexico and has spent over 18 years traveling to Mexico to learn more about the food by going to markets, eating in restaurants across the country, and sharing time with families in Mexico to help broaden his knowledge and gain inspiration and insight. Since opening Elote Cafe in September 2007, he has been able to apply those lessons in new ways while drawing from inspiration from his travels and personal life. Elote Cafe has received praise from the Arizona Republic, Phoenix Magazine, Toronto Star, Arizona Highways, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Sunset Magazine and many more. In 2014, Gayot named Elote Café one of the top ten Mexican Restaurants in the United States. Jeff’s book, The Elote Café Cookbook, has sold over 30 thousand copies and, for over eight years, he has been a regular guest chef on Phoenix Channel 3’s Your Life A to Z. During his nine years as chef and owner of Elote Cafe, he continues to refine his innovative, creative approach to Mexican food and drink with his team in Sedona.
BARTENDER ROSS SIMON
Bitter and Twisted Cocktail Parlour
Ross Simon was steeped in the culinary and catering industry from birth, working at the family restaurant in the old country of his native home of Scotland. Now, following over two decades of experience in the hospitality industry and after mixing it up with the biggest names and brands in the cocktail world, Ross has opened his own cocktail lounge, Bitter & Twisted, inside the historic Luhrs Building in the heart of downtown Phoenix. After leaving Scotland, Ross moved to central London to work as general manager for a very successful bar “The Old Crown” for three years. While there he learned all the essential qualities needed to run a successful and thriving business before taking a bar back position at one of London’s most highly regarded and creative bars, the award-winning Lab Bar (London Academy of Bartenders) in 2002. In 2006, as London became saturated with new bars and great bartenders, Ross decided that he wanted to bring his trade, knowledge and love for cocktails to the United States, Arizona specifically. Since moving stateside, Ross has worked for a number of well-known bars across Arizona; re-organizing and building each venue’s bar menu and team training to implement menus to their fullest potential. He has also helped to start and form the Phoenix Chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild (U.S.B.G.) and has co-founded the annual spirits celebration, Arizona Cocktail Week. In 2014, Ross finally got to fulfill his dream and open his own bar, Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour in downtown Phoenix, Arizona.
CHEFS LAUREN KLEIN AND HEATHER SHOEMAKER
High Spirited Cupcakes
Inspired by some amazingly tasty cocktails, two homegrown Phoenix girls had the mad idea that the marriage of cupcakes and cocktails should, nae must be done. Using only the freshest of ingredients and top of the line spirits, Lauren and Heather began the adventure of HighSpirited Cupcakes. A self-taught baker, Lauren has been a flour-child since the age of three. The hunger for new trends and crazy ideas, and drive to prefect her craft, and challenge her creativity has propelled HighSpirited Cupcakes from a hobby to something much more. The world of spirits is boundless, and each combination of spirits lends itself to a whole new world of flavor. Lauren and Heather have taken a tired treat and with HighSpirited Cupcakes, elevated the goodness to the complete next level.