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Pebble Beach Food & Wine: Part One Of A Two-Part Throwdown And Tales From The Afterparty

Another day dawns at PBF&W. Have I mentioned yet how difficult the mornings are here? Well, let me underscore that. As I write, it's just past 7 a.m. and I count myself among the lucky ones, having turned in at the more-reasonable hour of 2 a.m.. The Michelin stars dinner, which I attended last night, has the distinction of being one of the longest meals I've ever enjoyed in my entire life. Given how many dinners I've attended, this is something. The guests who managed to make it to hour six (yes, really) finished off the evening with a dessert prepared by the Coi pastry chef, a combination of blood orange "curd," walnut crumble and an ice cream flavored with Douglas fir. Comparing notes with my L.A. tablemates, I can tell you confidently that the use of fir in desserts has not made it to L.A. County yet, for better or for worse. By the numbers: 300 people, 6 wine glasses each. Whoa.

Exhausted at meal's end, I somehow found the strength to attend the after-party. This is not some cobbled together chef get-together--no, this is the "official after-party," with all (or at least most) of the chefs in attendance. There was David Kinch of Manresa, fresh from the Cristal dinner. Stefan Richter worked the crowd, drawing special attention from the ladies. Traci des Jardins made an appearance, despite recovering from a cold, along with Jacques Pepin, Eric Ripert, Daniel Humm, Chris Cosentino, Thomas Keller, Tom Colicchio and the inimitable Gail Simmons (who, for the record, is cute as a button in person). There was a dance floor (really), and though I longed to see Keller raise the roof, it was not to be. I will, however, settle for the second-hand knowledge that a colleague saw him "fist-bump" another chef on his way out of the event.

The dinner, on the whole, was good, but after having met and talked to some of the chefs from Los Angeles who are cooking tonight (part 2 of the PBFW SF v. L.A. throwdown), I'm not entirely sure our fair city has it in the bag.

Stay tuned: A Nancy Oakes demo, that L.A. dinner and a whole lot more to come.