Winners Announced for 2018 Devour Excellence Awards

Contact: Erica Fetherston, Local First Arizona,, 602-956-0909 ext. 7

Winners Announced for 2018 Devour Excellence Awards

March 4, 2018 (Phoenix, Arizona) - For the second year in a row, the Devour Culinary Classic presented the Devour Excellence Awards to restaurant participants who demonstrated exceptional culinary talent. The results are as follows: 

Excellence in Presentation 

Awarded to the restaurant with the dish that paid particular attention to how the dish looked and appeared. Your mouth will start watering by just looking at it. 


Winner: Cibo
Arancini no. 1 - Pan Fried rice balls with mozzarella and green peas
Arancini no. 2 - Pam fried rice balls with mozzarella and lamb

Runner Up: Phoenix Public Market
Arizona Citrus Salad - goat cheese, pistachios, local dates, sweet shallot honey vinaigrette, micro greens


Winner: Kai
Smoked Ocean Trout, Squash Escabeche, Huitlacoche Chumeth, Black Tepary Miso. 

Runner Up: FnB / The Inbetweens
Fresh vegetable salad with sugar snap peas and country ham

Excellence in Innovation

Awarded to the restaurant with the dish that challenged the status quo and used unique ingredients or methods. 


Winner: True Food Kitchen
Grilled Cauliflower Planks - black walnut pesto, truffle tahini, aleppo chili

Runner Up: Helio Basin Brewery
Venison Sausage


Winner: Shift
Beef tongue Philly Cheesesteak

Runner Up: The Dressing Room
Tako Yaki Hushpuppy with a Tomato Sriracha Jam

Excellence in Taste 

Awarded to the restaurant with the dish that stood out based on taste and flavor. 


Winner: Gallo Blanco
Flapjacks with Plantains Foster

Runner Up: Dust Cutter
Huevos Rancheros / Sonoran Native Tepary Bean Chili, Ground bison, quail egg and chorizo espuma


Winner: Elote Cafe
Spicy Anasazi beans with local heritage barley and mesquite cornbread

Runner Up: Different Point of View
Grain Mustard Soy Grilled Muscovy Duck; Sweet Corn Milk Griddle Cakes & Bliss Maple Drizzle, Kumquat Shallot Jam, Duck Cracklings, Basil Oil

Excellence in Distinction

Awarded to one restaurant over the two-day event that stood out in all categories for excellence in taste, innovation, and presentation. 

Winner: FnB / The Inbetweens
Runner up: Kai

2018 Judging Panel

Jason Frye

Jason Frye is a travel, culinary and culture writer with stories and photography in Southern Living, Coastal Living, AAA Go!, AAA Traveler, Dallas Morning News, Our State, Salt, StarNews, Charlotte Observer, Raleigh News & Observer, Thrillist, Virgin Atlantic Airlines, Our State Eats,, Forbes,, The Official North Carolina Visitors Guide, Discover South Carolina Vacation Guide among other places. He’s the author of Moon North Carolina, Moon North Carolina Coast Including the Outer Banks, Moon Blue Ridge Parkway Roadtrip, and Moon Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers where he serves on the Eastern Chapter Executive Board, the Association of Food Journalist, and holds his MFA in Creative Writing—Poetry (2005) from University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Erin Jackson

Erin Jackson is a San Diego-based food and travel writer whose work has appeared in Edible San Diego, DiningOut San Diego, San Diego Magazine, Tasting Table, Serious Eats, and more. In 2017, she launched a 501(c)(3) nonprofit fundraising organization called Friendly Feast that supports charitable organizations through food and drink events that foster friendships between local chefs, brewers, distillers, coffee roasters, farmers, and artisanal food producers. Owing to her enormous sweet tooth, the organization's signature event is an annual chef-driven bake sale, featuring a dozen of San Diego's best pastry chefs. 

Barbara Pool Fenzl

Barbara Fenzl plays many roles on the American culinary stage. She has owned and operated Les Gourmettes Cooking School in Phoenix for the last 33 years. A television personality, she hosted the 13-week PBS series, “Savor the Southwest,” and all of KAET-TV’s last twelve cooking-related pledge drives, and she is a regular guest on “Your Life A to Z,” a local morning television show. As a writer, she had authored Southwest the Beautiful Cookbook, Savor the Southwest and Seasonal Southwest Cooking, was a frequent contributor to Bon Appétit magazine and is the former food editor of Southwest Passages and Phoenix Home and Garden magazines. Her first love is teaching and she is a renowned cooking teacher in the United States, the Périgord region of France, and Mexico (Rancho La Puerta). Active in the culinary community, she is past president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, benefactor and past board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food, former member of the James Beard Restaurant Awards Committee, and past president of the Arizona Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International. An inductee in the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame and recipient of the Greater Phoenix Chef’s Association Humanitarian of the Year, Ms. Fenzl has the distinction of having the Junior League of Phoenix’s kitchen named after her and has been the honorary chairman of numerous fundraising events.  She received the Girl Scouts World of the Arts Award in 2002 and was named a 2003 Master of the Southwest by Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine. She holds B.S. and M.A. degrees and has studied cooking at the Cordon Bleu (London) and Ecole LeNôtre.

John Gilchrist

John Gilchrist writes about restaurants for the Calgary Herald and reviews restaurants for CBC Radio in Calgary. He’s authored eleven National Best-Sellers and three apps on dining in southern Alberta, contributes regularly on food and travel to Travel Alberta and magazines such as Swerve, enRoute, Where, Avenue, and Harry and is the Calgary judge for the Canadian Culinary Championships. He’s a regular contributor on Breakfast Television and leads culinary travel programs around the world for the University of Calgary, where he taught Food and Culture programs for over two decades.

Howard Seftel

From 1992 to until he retired in 2015, Howard Seftel spent 23 years writing about the Valley restaurant scene, at the Phoenix New Times and Arizona Republic. A native New Yorker, he lived abroad for five years after college in the 1970s --  three years in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer, followed by two years in pre-revolutionary Iran working for an American company. He then moved to Berkeley to work on a Ph.d, teaching there and at Antioch University in Los Angeles before settling in Phoenix in 1990. He and his wife Kathleen have two daughters, two sons-in-law and three grandsons.  

Rina Rapuano

Rina Rapuano currently writes all DC-related editorial content for Zagat in addition to juggling freelance food and travel writing gigs with such publications as Arlington Magazine, Northern Virginia Magazine, DC Refined, Nashville Lifestyles and Washington City Paper. She decided to jump from newspaper editing to food writing when she realized every conversation with friends ended with someone declaring, “You’re making me hungry.” While on staff at Washingtonian magazine’s dining section for four years, she ate her way through every type of ethnic food for Cheap Eats packages; fretted about gout each year while working on the 100 Very Best Restaurants package; and wrote about food trends in addition to her regular Dining on a Shoestring column for the magazine. She has also written for NPR, the Washington Post’s food section and Travel Channel, among others. Plus, she occasionally still brags about the tiny piece she landed in Gourmet years ago. Rina lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, two children, mother, two dogs and a cat. You can find her on Instagram at @rinacucina.

Scott Mowbray

Scott Mowbray is a James Beard Award-winning author who has been Editor in Chief of both Cooking Light and Eating Well magazines. He's currently restaurant critic of 5280 Magazine in Denver, Colorado, and a freelance writer. His article about a small-town Colorado bakery was included in the book Best Food Writing 2017. His books include The New Way To Cook Light and The Unforgettable Photograph: 228 Ideas, Tips, and Secrets for Taking the Best Pictures of Your Life. He's an avid cook and lives in Boulder with his wife, Kate Meyers.

Natalie Pattillo

Natalie Pattillo is a multimedia journalist based in New York City. In her work, she fuses social justice and culinary arts to provide platforms for communities that are too often overlooked or misrepresented. Communicating through storytelling, food, or a combination of the two allows her to do just that. Her work has appeared in places like Edible Manhattan, Edible Brooklyn, Munchies, New York Magazine, Vice, Pacific Standard Magazine, Eater NY, Refinery29, Narratively, The Nation, and more. Natalie was born in Singapore and moved to West Texas when she was nine. She lives in Harlem with her daughter Amora and her fiance Colton.

More: See the 2017 results for the Devour Excellence Awards.

About Local First Arizona

Founded in 2003 by Director Kimber Lanning, Local First Arizona (LFA) is a statewide non-profit organization working to strengthen communities and local economies through growing, supporting, and celebrating locally owned businesses throughout the state of Arizona. LFA seeks to promote, support, and celebrate a vibrant and sustainable Arizona economy by educating consumers, stakeholders, business leaders, and policymakers about local business ownership, social equity, cultural diversity, environmental kinship, and collaboration. Visit for more information and a directory of more than 3,000 locally owned businesses.

About Desert Botanical Garden

Desert Botanical Garden is the largest botanical garden in the Southwest, featuring 50,000 plants from across the world. The Garden allows visitors to experience the beauty of the desert like never before. For 78 years, the Garden’s commitment to the community is to advance excellence in education, research, exhibition and conservation of desert plants of the world with an emphasis on the Southwestern United States. Visit for more.

About the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance

The Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance (SAACA) is a not-for-profit organization that exists to ensure that, through engagement in arts and culture, our communities produce strong, inspired citizens. SAACA enlists artists, businesses, governments, and individuals to expand artistic and cultural opportunities in their respective communities. To enhance access to the arts and to promote cultural awareness in the communities it serves, SAACA presents large-scale festivals, events, and other programs. The Alliance also promotes educational opportunities in the arts and culture for all ages. Visit for more.