Is The Devoured Culinary
Classic Worth The Cost?
Images by Jennifer Lind Schutsky.
By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine
March 8, 2016 — The Devoured Culinary Classic is enjoyable in the same way that taking part in a wine-soaked Roman orgy during the waning days of the empire was probably enjoyable. It is an exercise in extravagance, to the say the least. To say the most, it’s a bunch of people slovenly filling their faces with the best food and drink Phoenix has to offer.
Don’t get me wrong—my love of the event is well documented. It’s just that it takes a certain lack of self-awareness and shame (a suspension of belief in reality, per se) to fully enjoy the two-day food fest.
But, once you have that out of the way, you’re in for a real treat as the outdoor courtyard of the Phoenix Art Museum transforms into crammed gourmet food bazaar littered with tents from many of Arizona’s best restaurants serving up their best dishes.
Oh, and did I mention the booze. In addition to dozens of wineries and a collection of breweries (only those that suck off the Hensley teat, sadly), several of the region’s premier distillers were also in attendance to show off their wares, including Arizona Distilling, O.H.S.O. Distilling, 3 Amigos Tequila and Hamilton Distillers (a must try for any scotch-lovers in the desert).
Despite the seemingly endless array of food and drink options available at the Devoured Culinary Classic each year, the one question I always get from friends, family and readers who do not attend is whether or not the event is truly “worth it”.
And they mean that in the monetary sense. Devoured is not cheap. A one-day general admission ticket is $99, two-day passes cost $179 and single-day VIP tickets cost $150. That’s a lot of dough for most folks to fork over for a couple hours of culinary bliss.
That’s why I decided to answer the question once and for all. In order to do that, I documented every single food and drink item I consumed over the course of Day 1 and Day 2 of the event. I then decided to assign a monetary value to each item, so, at the end, I could determine if my entrance to the exhibit was worth it.
For argument’s sake, I am only cataloging items available to general admission member’s because the VIP tickets seem obviously overrated. Aside from early admission to the event (which is nice), all VIP gets you is access to a half-empty room with two or three extra booths and an exclusive cocktail. There’s also a swag bag involved, but I didn’t get to see what’s in that because they are saved for “paying customers” according to one oh-so pleasant Devoured staffer.
Now, tallying up the cumulative value of the items I consumed is easier said than done because every restaurant offers different serving sizes and some offer menu items while others create specialty items for the event. The beer, wine and liquor were a bit easier to calculate as each offered a pretty standard pour.
Images by Jennifer Lind Schutsky.
So, how did I tabulate food cost? Basically, I determined the price of each dish based on its price (or the price of something comparable) on the restaurant’s menu and then multiplied that price by the portion size offered. For instance, The Clever Koi offered what I determined to be a 1/4 of its Teriyaki Short Rib (menu price $10.50), so the Devoured price is $2.63.
Some booths also offered cocktails with their food, so I incorporated that price in much the same way into a restaurant’s overall value.
Additionally, I chose not to tabulate the cost of everything I could have eaten at Devoured. Because, in my experience, eating everything is impossible. I wanted to give a realistic value estimate, so I only counted items I actually shoved in my face.
When all was said and done on Day 1, I ate 23 food items, drank six beers (Victory Brewing DirtWolf, Rogue Fresh Roast, Stone Brett IPA, Odell Runoff Red IPA, Founders Rubaeus, O.H.S.O. Saison), and three liquors (O.H.S.O. #Vodka, O.H.S.O. #Gin and Arizona Distilling Copper City Bourbon.) The grand total of that gluttony came out to $141.19 according to my very scientific calculations.
On Day 2, still reeling from the day before, I consumed 23 food items, drank two beers (Mother Road Roadside and Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA) and nine liquors (a variety of offerings from Arizona Distilling, Hamilton Distillers and 3 Amigos Tequila) for a grand total of $117.91.
So, is Devoured Culinary Classic worth the price of a general admission ticket?
Slap down a Benjamin and get ready for the meat sweats, because it is so worth it. Whether you purchase one day ($99) or two ($179) I can now confidently tell you that an undersized 26-year-old male can consume well over that ticket price in food and drink at the event, so you should be able to maximize your value no problem.
Whether your liver, digestive system and sense shame can handle the collateral effects of the event is another story entirely.
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