Pebble Beach Food & WIne
10 a.m. on day four of PBFW is a brutal time for demo, but a hung over Jamie Lauren and Stefan Richter rallied to the occasion (with the help of a bottle of wine and some Journey tunes) and cooked up an asparagus salad and a chocolate mousse. Of course, the majority of the audience could care less about the cooking—it was Top Chef unplugged time, a chance to experience Stefan’s unrequited love for Jamie first hand. The Top Chefs entreated (Jamie: “Everyone knows we’re in love and are having babies, right?” Stefan: “Jamie, you called me at 8:30 to wake me up? No, I turned over at 8:30 to wake you up”), even going through a fake marriage ceremony, administered by Food & Wine editor Gail Simmons.
Did we mention this whole thing is positioned as a NorCal v. SoCal showdown? Well, Ted Allen said it again during the Michelin Stars of Los Angeles dinner last night, rallying the audience to rate the dishes and proclaim a winner via Twitter. (After giving an amusing ode to the “red teeth-ed girls” of the festival.)
Day three at Pebble Beach Food & Wine, picking up where Jessica left off at the afternoon cooking demo with Boulevard’s Nancy Oakes and Pamela Mazzola. The scene was certainly no Thomas Keller Jesus-fest, but Oakes’ fan base is a slightly different breed. She certainly commands the respect of a room (albeit a post-spa, wine-hazed one), especially when she cooks up an extremely complicated seared abalone with a slow cooked farm egg, a dish she admitted “was not necessarily to be tried at home.” It required a $900 “circulated egg” machine, a lab apparatus that keeps the egg yolk runny while cooking the white. Intense.
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.
Though this may sound pretty obvious, people really like chefs. This morning, en route to "Lexus brings a moment with Thomas Keller," I encountered some women in the hallway. "Make sure you get Tom Colicchio's autograph!" Just like Sara wrote in her blog, the ladies are all over Tom Colicchio like white on rice. However, this level of adoration was NOTHING compared to the scene inside the cooking demo tent, Thomas Keller presiding.
It turns out that this wining and dining is exhausting. Though the official start time of today's festivities was 10 a.m., things have been running on PBST (Pebble Beach Standard Time), no doubt owing to the quantity of food and wine being consumed. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the generous Acqua Panna, San Pellegrino and Driscoll berry sponsorship—not because it's so fabulous (though I do like having access to iced sparkling water wherever I go), but because it's like an episode of Top Chef—so blatant as to be funny. This morning, as I waited in line for the Thomas Keller demo, women in green dresses proferred up baskets of berries, asking each attendee, "Would you like to start your day with a Driscoll berry?" Um, no. Instead, I hit up the Illy espresso kiosk.
Good morning. Reporting live today from Pebble Beach Food & Wine, a multi-day chef extravaganza taking place at the storied Inn at Spanish Bay, located on 17-mile drive. The event kicked off last night with an absolutely packed wine-and-food reception, where celebrated chefs offered bites of food and wineries poured their best.
Here are my early observations.