Devour Culinary Classic's New Home Builds Sense of Place

Desert Botanical Garden's Hazel Center for Plant Science. Image courtesy of 180 degrees and Bill Timmerman

Desert Botanical Garden's Hazel Center for Plant Science. Image courtesy of 180 degrees and Bill Timmerman

Post contributed by LFA food systems intern Samantha Battaglini

In March of 2018, Local First Arizona's Devour Culinary Classic will find its new home at the Desert Botanical Garden. Through its new location, the Classic is better equipped than ever to connect local food to the Sonoran desert and create true sense of place through the architecture and natural environment at the Garden, as provided by local architecture firms 180 degrees design + build with coLAB Studio, llc, and Floor Associates.

Ken Schutz, Executive Director at Desert Botanical Garden, says “I may be a little biased, but I think Desert Botanical Garden is one of Phoenix’s premiere 'locally grown' enterprises, and we’re so proud to be  a member of Local First Arizona. When the opportunity arose to partner with Local First Arizona on the Devour Culinary Classic, we were ecstatic.”

The Devour Culinary Classic will be exhibited throughout the entire garden including in the settings of the Steele Heritage Garden (landscape architecture completed by Floor Associates) and the Hazel Center for Plant Science (completed by 180 degrees with coLAB Design Studio). Across these grounds, the Garden incorporates many different architectural pieces that are rooted in desert-conscious design, all designed and built by local firms.  

The Heritage Garden project was envisioned to honor the 75 year history of the Desert Botanical Garden as well as to pay tribute to those who were instrumental in establishing the Desert Botanical Garden as a place for teaching and inspiration.
— Kris Floor, Floor Associates

Located  in the center of the Desert Botanical Garden, the Steele Heritage Garden features many different herbs and other native plants. For the Classic, some participating chefs will be using herbs from the Heritage Garden, as well as veggies from the Center for Desert Living, in their dishes for the ultimate "local" experience.

Also on the premises is the Hazel Center for Plant Science, an 85,000 square foot facility serving as Phase I of the Desert Botanical Garden’s Horticulture Master Plan. This space will broaden their plant collection, and serve as a learning lab for students, members and scientists alike, and fits seamlessly into the Garden’s desert environs. “The facility incorporates a number of strategies for designing in the desert,” remarks John Anderson, lead architect of 180 degrees.

Desert Botanical Garden's Heritage Garden. Image Courtesy of Floor Associates

Desert Botanical Garden's Heritage Garden. Image Courtesy of Floor Associates

“There is a ‘large hat’ over the project with operable louvers which is used to provide shade for the people and structures below. This was especially important for the greenhouses sine in our climate: A normal greenhouse design would overheat. With the operable louvers, they can be adjusted fully open in winter when direct sunlight is needed. In the summer when they are in the closed position they [completely] block the sun.”

Together, the Devour Culinary Classic and the Botanical Garden work naturally to meld the built environment, sustainability, sense of place, and local  food to produce a truly ‘Arizona’ experience.

Humans have been cultivating plants to eat for more than 10,000 years—farming, harvesting and cooking are integral to our survival.  It made perfect sense to co-sponsor a gourmet festival for Arizona foodies right here in the middle of the Garden. There are amazing plants and vistas to see, plenty of space to wander the trails and enjoy the beauty of the desert and, hopefully, guests will make that connection that without plants there would be no food for any of us to eat, nor any air to breathe.
— Ken Schutz, Executive Director of Desert Botanical Garden

The partnership between Local First Arizona and Desert Botanical Gardens to host the Devour Culinary Classic brings a new and exciting energy to one of Phoenix’s favorite annual events.

Click here for all the details on Devour week, February 25-March 4, including the Classic March 3-4.

**This blog has been edited from its original form for accuracy, to include coLAB studio's contributions to the Hazel Center for Plant Science.