More than 3,000 people traipsed through Monterey Peninsula this weekend for the first annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival. To those who could afford it---some tickets were almost $5,000 per person---to mingle with the country's best winemakers, talk shop with more than 75 sommeliers, and meet top toques, learn from them, eat their food, was totally worth it. Because someone had to let you know if it's really worth it, we jammed in as much as possible. We heard lots of goss, some news, tasted the best spatzel we ever had. Here, then, the final wrap-up.
On LA's Own: At the Sunday Lexus Grand Tasting, Josiah Citrin had the longest line at the Melisse table. We kept seeing chocolate cookies on a stick and found out where they came from: Sherry Yard, of course, handing them out in her in full-on pink chef regalia. The two each had a course at the grand finale dinner on Saturday. Way to represent.
On Tom Colicchio: In a cunning show of chef prowess, Colicchio butchered his own meat at his cooking demo. And cut his finger, but the crowd oohed and aahed anyway; they really didn't think he could cook anymore. Many asked if he'll open a restaurant in their hometown. Answer: No, but Foxwoods, CT (Craftsteak) and Atlanta (Craft, Craftbar) are next, and he'd definitely open something else in LA. One elder gent gave him an earful about not getting a reservation at Craft LA and having to deal with inept hostesses; Colicchio defended the restaurant and said he has a new GM. On why he finally decided to do Top Chef: "I got tired of coming to these things and sitting next to Mario Batali and Bobby Flay. They'd sign 200 cookbooks, and I'd sign 10. And not because they were necessarily better."
On Top Chef: Ryan Scott, the San Francisco chef from the current season, was kept on a short leash by his publicist at one of the after parties. He couldn't say a peep about the show, but said he's been hanging out in LA and had dinner at fellow cheftestant Antonia Lofaso's Foxtail. And true: He's a hugger, because, you know, he's from California. TC judge Gail Simmons not a hugger, but witty, very pleasant. She and Tom C. held a brief Top Chef panel on the Amex Publishing stage on Saturday and defended their decisions on the show. They swore up and down that nobody, including the producers, knows who won this year. Gail also said Hung claimed he was most scared to cook for her.
On the Wines: He supplies some of the best fruit for some of the country's top pinot noir producers, and his own wines are fabulous, but Gary Pisoni is a madman. In a good way.
On the Tents: The Grand Tasting was the largest event of the weekend, with two different groups of chefs on Saturday and Sunday. Lines were long, fewer dishes on Saturday, but Sunday was the jackpot: Craft (sans Colicchio), Gary Danko, Douglas Keane from Cyrus in Healdsburg, Roy Yamaguchi, Joe's Stone Crab. Biggest swoon: Danko's bison with herb spatzel. Best Howard Hughes impersonation: The impeccably dressed co-founder David Alan Bernahl, II, who always looked like he just walked off The Aviator set.
· Mega-Event Alert: Pebble Beach Food & Wine [~ELA~]
· Pebble Beach Food & Wine Fest: Day One [~ELA~]
· Pebble Beach F&W Fest: The Wine Room [~ELA~]
· Pebble Beach Wrap-Up: Sights and Sounds [~ELA~]