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Let's eat.

From Big Sur's killer cliff-clinging eateries to Salinas' unparalleled produce, this blog aims to sniff out all things Monterey County can stomach, via picture and prose, curiosity and appetite, hand and mouth.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Harvest Carmel Event Worth a Hallelujah or Two

Last year, the inaugural Food&Wine Harvest felt like the one and only Monterey Music Summit, only with rock star chefs like Tyler Florence and Stefan Richter replacing the rock rock stars like Michael Franti and The Roots—both were big city-grade, wildly entertaining events where the small amount of attendees demanded three thoughts, namely:

1) Where the hell is everyone? 2) Those knuckleheads are missing out. 3) Thank goodness.

The light crowd meant heavy indulgence for those there, from the cracking fresh oyster bar (though I'll pass on the vodka-oyster shooter next time) to the waves of fine Santa Lucia wines. OK, there were waits for chefs named Baker—Rob Baker's barbecue and Tony Baker's little something amazing (he ran out before I got some)—but everything else, from hand-tended McIntyre grape juice to Florence's festive food demos (above) to Top Chef star Richter's thriller Thai soup (below), was available with zero waiting and maximum chef-winemaker-crowd interaction.

After throwing together the event quickly in the wake of TomatoFest's close, which left a vacuum in the foodie calendar too good to pass up, the event was also a testament to parent Coastal Luxury Management's ability to throw a electric event with only the collaborating chefs and staffers knowing how seat-of-the-pants a production it actually was.

With a full year to arrange sponsorships, charm chefs, harvest wineries, plot demos and recruit gardening displays, Harvest 2.0—imagine a Pebble Beach Food & Wine-style grand tasting with a more regional chef base, a lot more connectivity to the farm and a more family-aimed orientation—should evolve significantly. It's coming up quickly: Sept. 25-26.

The crowd-pleasers will be back, including the Kids Kitchen/garden funland run by the MeEarth Hilton Bialeck Habitat directors, bike-powered blender included. Guests will again be able to collect farm-fresh produce to take home.

But there are some key components to consider beyond the impressive fundamentals—100-plus winemakers, 50 chefs, two days, all set on the Quail Lodge lawns in the Carmel Valley sun—including:

• More demos from studs like Cal Stamenov—but also seminars on barbecue, wines, gardening and artisan cheeses. Mmmm mmmm.

• A prodigious uptick in music—a big-name live band is in negotiations to add to the DJ-driven music that accompanied the sunshine last year. I won't say what band that is before things are finalized, but it would be nice to be listening to "Lowrider" while studying a Lexus and sipping a top-shelf margarita.

and

• Comely ladies on hay bales, of course.

Here's a look at this year's chefs—a list that's growing by the day. Learn more and grab tickets ($85/day; $150/two) at the Harvest website.

• Peter Armellino, The Plumed Horse
• Mark Ayers,
 Cannery Row Brewing Company
• Rob Baker
, Me and the Hound Memphis Barbecue
• Tony Baker, Montrio Bistro
Jason Balestreri, Cantinetta Luca
Rick Bartram,
 Silks
Eric Berg
, The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards
Matt Bolton, 
Pacific's Edge Restaurant
Pamela Burns
, The Wild Plum Cafe and Catering
Philippe Chevalier, CHEVALIER
Frank Cocova, 
Flaherty’s Oyster Bar & Seafood Grill
Michele Cremonese, 
Basil Seasonal Dining
Mauro Cuevas
, Baja Cantina
Craig DiFonzo, 
Cantinetta Piero
Dmitry Elperin, 
The Village Pub
Don Ferch
, Contemporary Catering
Todd Fisher
, Chef Todd Fisher Concepts
Craig von Foerster,
 Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn
Mary Font
, Mrs. Delish’s Cupcake Boutique
Dory Ford, 
Aqua Terra Culinary
Willi Franz
, Marriott Monterey Hotel
Mackenzie Fullmer
, Second Street Cafe
Jason Giles
, Jacks at Portola Hotel & Spa
Christophe Grosjean,
 Aubergine
John Hui, 
Pebble Beach Company
Tomm Johnson, Culinary Secrets
Truman Jones
, Ventana Inn and Spa
Sarah LaCasse
, Earthbound Farm
Andre Lemaire
, Andre's Bouchee
Ron Mendoza, 
Aubergine
Pablo Mellin
, Roy’s at Pebble Beach
Timothy Mosblech, 
Restaurant 1833
Arturo Moscoso, Pèppoli
Sean O'Toole, 
Bardessono
Brian Overhauser
, Wrath Winery
Julio Ramirez
, Edgar's at Quail Lodge
Jerry Regester, C Restaurant at The Clement Monterey
Tom Snyder
, Estéban Restaurant at Casa Munras
Luis Solano
, The Whole Enchilada
Ben Spungin, 
Marinus
Cal Stamenov, Marinus
Tyler Stone,
 Chef Tyler Stone
Ben Cohn
, Spruce
Beverlie Terra, 
Chaminade Resort & Spa
John Tesar, 
Dallas Restaurant Group
Thanh Truong, 
An Choi Asian Contemporary Cuisine
Clint Wilson, 
The Lodge at Pebble Beach
Cy Yontz
, Rio Grill
Russell Young
, TusCA, Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa