Along with Aspen and South Beach, Pebble Beach has become shorthand for the foodie cognoscenti, with its dozens of big-name chefs and sommeliers engaging in cooking demonstrations, dinners, panels and parties with the thousands who now descend annually on the coastal community. “It’s Candy Land for enthusiasts — four days of hedonism in the forest,” says Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival co-founder David Bernahl.
Beginning April 12, this year’s event includes programming tailored around both mass-market Food Network personalities like Guy Fieri (the already-sold-out “Cookin’ It, Livin’ It, Lovin’ It,” at the Inn at Spanish Bay), as well as three-starred Michelin man Daniel Boulud (a lunch at the Equestrian Center). The key affair will be a tribute dinner honoring Thomas Keller, for which a la carte tickets cost $1,250.
Such a steep number seems to be no deterrent for the festival’s free-spending crowd — even in this economic climate, according to Bernahl. “This is the first time we’re selling out so early,” he says. “The economy is better. People that think they can just sign up a day or two beforehand are going to probably be disappointed this year.”
Perhaps the buzziest affair on the calendar is the Farewell to Foie Gras, hosted by Michael Ginor of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, and featuring Chris Cosentino of Umamicatessen in downtown L.A. A California state law going into effect July 1 is set to ban the fatty duck liver beloved by epicures.
Other notable local chefs making the trip to Northern California include Picca’s Richard Zarate, Sunny Spot’s Roy Choi, Providence’s Michael Cimarusti, FIG’s Ray Garcia, M.B. Post’s David LeFevre, The Spice Table’s Bryant Ng, Rivera’s John Sedlar and Mozza’s Nancy Silverton. In the past, the event has drawn everyone from agents like CAA’s Lisa Shotland and WME’s Jeffrey Googel to executives such as Dick Clark Productions’ Orly Adelson and Mark Shapiro, as well as Scott Feldman, who works with major food world personalities on the order of Geoffrey Zakarian, Anne Burrell and Tom Colicchio.