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  • Diana Brandt

Event: Smoked

I can barely express what it felt like to see Smoked come together this past Saturday. I almost started crying as the flash mob pushed out our last surprise. I had always wanted to do my own event but fear kept holding me back. There was so much that I didn't know and so much that I probably didn't want to know, about running events. I have seen many successes from the people that I work with but also many failures. The failures scared me, I couldn't do that to the people attending the event, I couldn't do that to the Chefs, I couldn't fathom that being my future. So it felt more comfortable to live in fear and just not try, then to try and potentially fail or maybe, just maybe even succeed.

When Walt suggested we do something at his restaurant, Ocotillo, it felt like an easy entry point into the event I'd been dreaming of.

Let the planning begin. The more things got set into the motion, the more the anxiety began to infest my mind and kept me up at night. The insomnia of things I might not be remembering or of things not going the right way plagued me. I can't tell you how many times I wished I hadn't decided to do this thing and I wanted to back out and cancel but I knew it was too late.

So I pushed through the fear, the sleepless nights and the bad thoughts. I relied on my friends and those that had done events to help guide me and remind me of those things I might not think of. My Chef friends were 100% behind me on this concept and they were willing to be a part of it and do some cool stuff to follow the theme of Smoked.

I may have been a little over organized and I may have been a little demanding but I had a vision guys! I wanted this to be smaller event, one that was intimate enough to keep lines short. This also meant that we could have really awesome experiences lined up. The Chefs would be able to put out samples that they were proud of and not feel overwhelmed and we could do some amazing things with the cocktails too. While keeping the event small, I also wanted to keep it affordable. My goal was to create an epic event that anybody could come to and experience the amazing talent our Phoenix food scene has to offer.

As the day of the event dawned on me, things started to pan out. We had 12 epic Chefs lined up for the attendees, tickets were sold out, cocktails were ready to be smoked and I couldn't wait for people to arrive. My body was quivering with excitement and anxiety as I watched the space be transformed from the beloved Ocotillo resturant into my vision for Smoked. I won't lie, I was kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop but it never did.

What occurred at noon when doors opened was something nobody expected. They walked into a space that was filled with Chefs smoking meats and preparing some dishes that they'd never done before. They walked into the property and saw a Bulleit Lounge smoking drinks in the coolest little boxes. They walked over and made their own succulent rings with Ketel One Botanical and the Flower Bar. They made their own candles with Bulleit and Pink Honey Candles. They watched as Barry the Mentalist bent quarters and read their mind. They drank Union Mezcal, took pictures and played games with Seagram's, enjoyed the dessert patio with Johnnie Walker (one of the crowd favorite drinks) and the Johnnie Walker s'mores and cupcakes by Toasted Mallow and Sweet Daddy Cupcakes. And they watched in awe as a flash mob erupted from the crowd.

Things went off without a hitch and I'm still on a high from the event. This whole experience reminded me of my favorite quote, that everything I want is always on the other side of fear. It never fails me, that the things I want the most are the things that I'm so afraid to do on my own.

xoxoxo Diana aka Arizona Foodie

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