Celebrity Fight Night: Check out menu, top stars

Posted at 4:19 PM, Apr 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-09 09:36:29-04

Prepping for one of the largest celebrity events in Phoenix takes a lot of time and planning.

Sous Chef Ryan Lamkin of J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa said planning for Muhammad Ali's annual "Celebrity Fight Night" fundraiser began months ago. 

To no surprise, it's an all-hands-on-deck operation.

Chefs got together to decide which dishes and desserts would not only appeal to a mass audience--which includes several A-List celebrities, including Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire and Rob Gronkowski--but also highlight Arizona's southwestern cuisine.

"We like to get people talking about [the food]," he said. 

Two tastings were held with organizers who each sampled 6-8 different salad combinations, entrees with varying starches and vegetables, and different desserts (tough gig, right?) to make sure the menu provided that high-class and tasty experience the event has become known for. (Not to mention the $118 million it has raised for charities over 22 years.)

So, what's on the menu?

Hors d'oeuvres:

Brie and Granny Smith Crostini (pictured above)
Shrimp Salsa Blue Corn Tortilla Crisp with Avocado mousse
Chipotle Chicken Salad Cone with Cilantro Crema (pictured above)
Roasted Vegetable Parmesan Stack (pictured above)


House variation on a Panzanella Salad
7-ounce filet, smoked shallot, whipped potato, Hericot Vert, Cipollini onion, roasted tomato


"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" Lemonberry tart with house-made resort-honey meringue
Chocolate flourless cake, espresso cardamon cream, cocoa nib shortbread


Chef Lamkin said during the night of the event it's all hands on deck in the kitchen--line chefs, cooks, house managers and servers. In 20 minutes, they will plate and serve 1,000 guests, which breaks down to 50 plates a minute.

How do they do it? Using conveyor belts.

Line chefs will line up along the conveyor belt, each tasked with a specific dish element (filet, potato, vegetable, overall look), and plates will keep on coming. Once everything looks perfect, the servers will take it out to the guests.

"We want to make sure it's flawless on our end," said Lamkin. "Our team takes great pride in it."

The kitchen itself is massive. It has to be. Large grills, massive mixing bowls and prep tables take up a lot of the space.

Celebrity Fight Night is an annual event here in Phoenix which raises millions of dollars for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute, among other charities.

It will be held Saturday, April 9 at the J.W. Marriott in Phoenix.

Founder Jimmy Walker found himself seated at a table on Friday morning going over a last-minute check list and speaking to reporters about the event.

He said he was "very thankful" for those who've supported the event for the past 22 years and thanked the people who've helped put it on. 

(Editor's Note: Bolded names designate "local celebrities")

Aaron Quinton
Muhammad Ali, his wife Lonnie
Bruce Arians (Arizona Cardinals Head Coach)
Joe Arpaio (Maricopa County Sheriff)
Billy Blanks
Kix Brooks
Dylan Bruno
Tom Chambers
Jessi Colter
John Paul DeJoria
Bo Derek
Gov. Doug Ducey
Ronnie Dunn
Larry Fitzgerald
David Foster
Former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, Astronaut Mark Kelly
Todd Graham (Arizona State University Head Coach)
Rob Gronkowski
Hank Haney
Todd Heap
Bobby Hurley
Robert F. Kennedy Jr
Larry King
Olga Korbut
Nick Lowery
Harvey MacKay
Reba McIntyre
Lute Olson
Carson Palmer (Arizona Cardinals Quarterback)
Carly Paoli
Melissa Peterman
Chris Rich
Greg Stanton (Mayor of Phoenix)
The Tenors
Carrie Underwood
Brian Urlacher
Amy Van Dyken
Brandon Webb (Former Arizona Diamondbacks' pitcher)