Whenever I consider grousing about my job, I try to remind myself that, in so many, many ways, I've got it pretty good. It's easier to remember this in early April, when the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival is right around the corner and, as an invited member of the press, I have the difficult decision of choosing the events I'd like to attend—a dinner with legend Jacques Pépin, a vertical tasting of some of the finest Burgundies ever made or a mid-morning Krug retrospective? The mind reels.
While the event certainly is open to laypeople, it helps if those laypeople really like hobknobbing with chefs. Because, as I learned last year, you can't swing a dead cat (so the expression goes) without encountering a four-star chef, a highly regarded winemaker, a television personality. The Inn at Spanish Bay, where much of the event is held, is literally crawling with some of the biggest names in the business, and that's what you're paying for—access. You're paying to see Thomas Keller and his fiancée, Laura Cunningham, arrive late to the after-party. You're paying to discover, first-hand, that Tom Colicchio is much shorter in person then you imagined. You're paying to see Charles Phan on the golf course. You're also paying (at times, dearly) for the opportunity to experience some food and wine events that are truly one-in-a-kind, like the collaborative dinner between Keller and Charlie Trotter or the Food & Wine Best New Chefs alumni dinner.
The venue doesn't hurt, either. Should you need to take the vapors after drinking wine all morning, the rocky Monterey coastline awaits. I'm not going to lie and tell you that it's not a lot of money to attend these events. It is expensive, and not something I could likely afford to do were it not for the generosity of the organizers. But if you're going to pick one blow-out, no holds barred food weekends to attend, this ought to be the one. For the complete schedule of events (which can be purchased a la carte or as part of the package) visit pebblebeachfoodandwine.com.