The weekend of April 5 held the eleventh annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival, a culinary event that draws talent from around the country and especially from Northern and Southern California. Plenty of LA chefs headed up the coast to the idyllic and rather beautiful landscape of Monterey Bay and the environs of Carmel, with its blistery winds, crashing ocean waves, and foggy mornings. One noticeable difference in the lineup this year was a greater effort to diversify the chefs and restaurant perspectives.
It seemed like there was a greater highlighting of women chefs like Angie Mar and Naomi Pomeroy, who headed the Lexus lunch that takes place on Friday afternoon. Food Network judge and New York City restaurateur Alex Guarnaschelli led a cooking demo on Friday afternoon while Vegas and Miami chef Lorena Garcia hosted Saturday taco events. Top Chef contestant Fatima Ali headlined a few events while America’s Test Kitchen chefs Bridget Lancaster and Julia Collin Davidson did a Sunday morning cooking event for anyone who wasn’t too hungover to check it out on the festival’s last day.
Another notable observation was the perennial popularity of the Grand Tasting events, which took place on the weekends around lunch time. The bustling tents were packed with attendees tasting wines and bites from chefs from the country, though perhaps the chefs and restaurants cooking at the events seemed less attention-grabbing than in previous years.
The biggest evening event was headlined by The NoMad, whose LA team headed up two back-to-back dinners at a gorgeous oceanside home, while culinary legend Jeremiah Tower cooked a dinner with two of his proteges Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier (MC Perkins Cove) at the suave Casa Palmero. The NoMad’s second evening featured chef Chris Flint preparing some of NoMad LA’s classic dishes, including hamachi, grilled broccoli with black rice, and the restaurant’s iconic black truffle roasted chicken.
Sadly Friday evening’s cookout got rained in, but still included some pretty excellent meaty bites from Manhattan Beach chef David LeFevre, who’s been cooking up some of his Iron Chef contestant dishes while the show’s been airing on Food Network. Meanwhile, Trois Mec chef Ludo Lefebvre hosted a hilarious cooking demonstration with fellow French toque Daniel Boulud. Someone should give these two a cooking show because the mentor-mentoree, quick-talking French duo held their own preparing a brunchy crab savarin with shakshouka.
Other notable LA chefs who cooked at the festival included Barb Batiste of Big Boi and B Sweet, Valerie Gordon of Valerie Chocolates, Royce Burke of Secret Lasagna, Alvin Cailan of First We Feasts’s The Burger Show, Jason Neroni of Rose Venice, and Ted Hopson of The Bellwether.
Gossip and other intel
- Someone asked Alex Guarneschelli at her cooking demo what they should do if they want to get into the cooking profession. The Iron Chef and Food Network judge answered: “Cook and cook and cook, and when you’re home, cook. And when you go to the bathroom, read a cookbook. Make a five course tasting menu for ten of your friends and do it over and over again. Make 800 chicken breasts. If that doesn’t bother you, then try it.”
- Ludo Lefebvre, when asked about his time at Pebble Beach, seemed a little relieved to get a break from the busy schedule in LA. What did he do the night prior after finishing his prep for his demo? He ordered room service and watched TV before going to bed at 7 p.m. What did he order? “Caesar salad. I like simple food,” the Trois Mec chef said.
- While his proteges sounded off a slew of Jeremiah Tower’s accomplishments over the years, the room applauded and he responded with, “If I’ve done all those things I should be put under arrest.”