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Some of Phoenix’s Finest Female Chefs Are Gathering to Discuss Desert Food Dynamics



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This Sunday, the Phoenix chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier (LDE) will present Talks With Desert Dames — an online event packed with some award-winning Valley chefs and mixologists discussing food strategies in the desert. 

Seven women from Phoenix’s culinary scene, called Dames for this event, will take the virtual stage. Here’s a quick overview of what the Dames have lined up.

— Dame Candy Lesher, former host of Food & Life Television and editor-in-chief of Food & Life Magazine, will talk about how to cook tepary beans.

— Dame Danielle Leoni, a James Beard Award nominee, chef and co-owner of The Breadfruit and Rum Bar, and champion of sustainability, will talk about shrimp farming in the desert.

— Dame Jill Smith, director for the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), will speak about the program and demo their winning salad.

— Dame Patty Emmert, community relationship and marketing manager for Duncan Family Farms, will cover commercial farming in the desert.

— Dame Kim Haasarud, a nationwide-recognized mixologist who recently launched Garden Bar, will give a cocktail demonstration.

— Dame Tamara Stanger, former executive chef at Cotton and Copper, will speak about desert foraging and how to identify, dry, and cook cholla buds.

— Dame Ann Rodarte Colleary, manager of Echo Canyon School Garden, will showcase her Edible Schoolyard Project.

“It’s going to be a great event. They have come up with some fascinating topics,” says Dame Judith Baigent-King, president of the Phoenix LDE chapter, who also organized the talk. “I’ve been in the food industry for years and never thought about chollas as food. Yet, Tamara is talking about foraging and cooking cholla buds.” (Baigent-King is no culinary slouch, either. She trained with famed chef Jacques Pepin and food writer Diana Kennedy before opening her own cooking school in 1994.)

Talks With Desert Dames is part of the virtual Table Talk series Les Dames d’Escoffier International organized to celebrate Women’s History Month. LDEI is a philanthropic organization of women leaders in food, beverage, and hospitality, consisting of more than 2,400 members from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, and France.

Phoenix’s ticketed event is scheduled for 2 to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 14. All proceeds will go toward scholarships for C-CAP and the Blue Watermelon Project (another female-heavy food project in the Valley).

Tickets are $20. Register for Talks With Desert Dames through Eventbrite.

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