Sacramento Shines at Pebble Beach Food & Wine

A few weeks ago I wrote about how we had a collection of Sacramento chefs going to the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Show. After a tiring weekend of nonstop events, we are all back home and the chefs are exhausted. 

Unfortunately my press pass was very limited in that I only got to go to the tasting events. No dinners, seminars, or cooking demonstrations. Also no after hours parties and that's where Bill Ngo and Michael Thiemann were.  Never did catch up with Ramon Perez or Ravin Patel. I did catch sight of Kelly McCown as he was leaving. He was done by Saturday afternoon and heading home. Therefore my coverage only extends to Meatopia on Friday and the Grand Tasting Tents on Saturday and Sunday.

Kudos must be shared for Michael Passmore of Passmore Ranch.  Most of the chefs used his fish (trout, catfish, sturgeon, caviar) and he even did a special for Kelly by supplying lamb. He also worked his butt off. He was assisting many of the chefs, but it paid off for him because he got to talk about his business with many people in the food business, including a posse of Top Chefs from the Bravo TV show.

Friday night - MEATOPIA!

Although no Sacramento chefs were featured at the Meatopia event, there was still a good showing as they assisted Chef Matthew Accarrino of SPQR in San Francisco. Accarrino was recently nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Chef of the West and he's a big fan of Passmore Ranch.  He had a great wow factor bite in that they served up sturgeon chicharron with caviar and then roasted sturgeon. 

The roasted sturgeon was pretty spectacular. Michael says that the fish was 120 pounds out of the water, pre-evisceration. They stuffed it with citrus and herbs and then put it on a spit. They encased it in chicken wire so it wouldn't fall apart as it cooked. As always, the sturgeon was delicious and I even scored the cheek!

Michael talks to celebrity chefs
Helping Accarrino that day was Michael Passmore and Bill Ngo and Tyler Bond from Kru.  I missed seeing Bill on his own as he had the After Parties on Thursday and Saturday nights and press pass had no access.

More from Meatopia...

Bottom left is Kevin Gillespie from Atlanta's Gunshow. You may recognize him from Top Chef. He once said on Top Chef Masters how our own Michael Tuohy was his mentor. I must say that both his bites, Friday and Sunday, were among my favorites from the whole weekend — packed with flavor. Friday's was pork belly with pickled apples and smoked peanut butter (and I'm no peanut butter fan).

Saturday Grand Tasting

Saturday was the second event for Oliver Ridgeway of Grange.  He had also done some catfish poboys for Thursday's golf event. Once again, Michael Passmore was on hand to help out. Oliver got many compliments for his dish being not only tasty, but standing out as different.  It was a dill Yorkshire pudding with trout rillette and caviar with shaved bottarga on top. Bottarga is a new term for me — salted and cured fish roe. It hardens into a block so you can shave it like truffles.  This bottarga was made with sturgeon caviar. (At the time I thought they were shaving truffles.)

Below are shots of some of the other areas.  Driscoll's was a major sponsor so you can see their Berryland in the top right - all berry desserts.  Lexus was also a major sponsor, thus the cars. There were a LOT of wineries represented. A ridiculous number. Lucky for me Perrier was also there. 

And, of course, plenty of bites. The ones in the middle are especially noteworthy. The beef pho from Charles Phan of The Slanted Door. It was good, but difficult to consume with the noodles, etc. The pie slice you see is foie gras and orange and it was delicious. It came from The Modern NYC. I also ran into Dana Cowin, Editor of Food & Wine Magazine (hosts of the event) and asked her to pay more attention to Sacramento, we have so much great food!

There were plenty of celebrity chefs, including Curtis Stone, Charles Phan, Aaron Burns, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Brian Malarkey (from The Taste on TV). I also spotted Elizabeth Falkner, Anita Lo, Jenn Louis, and Iron Chef Morimoto.

Sunday Grand Tasting

It was Mother's turn to shine on Sunday with Matt Masera representing.  I had seen Michael Thiemann on Friday and he explained he had to do the After After Party that night, but it turns out he had to return to Sac for other Mother obligations and so Matt was there with his wife, Dana, to man the fort. Their dish was an almond cake with pea dust soil, carrot puree, turmeric glass, and fennel frond.  He ran out about an hour before the event so hopefully they got to go around and eat what was left around the tent.

And, of course, more bites...
Notable in this collage would be the foie gras peanut butter doughnuts (didn't work for me) and the bottom right, which is Kevin Gillespie's pork and raisin crepinette that I liked. The bottom left is Morimoto's cold noodles with beef and that was a huge hit.  And there was Morimoto, on noodle duty, scooping out handfuls of noodles into each bowl and picking up droppings from the floor to be neat and tidy.

I didn't get too carried away with chef groupie selfies.  Took one with Kevin to say "hi" to Michael Tuohy and then had to get Fabio during prep time before the doors opened. I might not have gotten to more events, but at least it got me in early for the tastings. 

I want to thank Wagstaff Worldwide and Coastal Luxury Management for granting me the pass.  They don't give too many away to bloggers and so I was thrilled that they allowed me the opportunity to cover our Sacramento chefs. And they were a big hit too! Just check out's review of the event and see #4 and #12!