The Fourth Annual West Coast Signature Culinary Event

 The tasting menus consisting of 10 courses each were masterpieces created by a group of top chefs, presenting their specialty dishes.

American Express presented the fourth annual West Coast signature culinary event, Pebble Beach Food and Wine with celebrity chefs such as Tom Colicchio, Daniel Boulud, Christopher Kostow, Michel Richard, Gary Danko, Tyler Florence, Masaharu Morimoto, Charlie Trotter, Jacques Pépin, Rick Tramonto, Nancy Silverton, Jonathan Waxman, Ming Tsai, Michael Chiarello, Guy Fieri, Dean Fearing and David Myers, just to name a few. This four-day celebration featured more than 30 prominent chefs and 100 acclaimed wineries and distinguished winemakers from around the world for a first-class symphony of fine wine and gourmet food for the enjoyment of culinary enthusiasts and wine aficionados. In addition to fine wines, pouring Champagne throughout the events were Krug, Dom Perignon, VeuveClicquot, La Grande Dame, Ruinart and Moet &Chandon.

Two Lexus Grand Tastings took place in the impressive 60,000 square-foot tent. For the à la carte price of $195, guests were granted unparalleled access to 25 world-renowned chefs serving samples of their cuisine and signing their books, along with 200 premium wineries pouring more than 500 vintages.

Sponsor Lexus provided a fleet of its new models shuttling attendees between the Inn at Spanish Bay and Pebble Beach Lodge where the events took place. There was also a private jet provided by XOJet flying over Monterey Bay for an hour of caviar and champagne tasting on board which I regrettably had to decline the invitation so that I could attend the Lexus Grand Tasting and A Romance with Italy Lunch. The cooking demonstrations held at two Viking Pavilions equipped with complete Viking kitchen appliances were my favorites. I learned cooking secrets from top chefs Tom Colicchio, Tyler Florence, Guy Fieri and Jacques Pepin, and wish I had more time for the others. These chefs were not only skilled in giving cooking demonstrations, but were also extremely funny and entertaining.

As you can imagine, the lunches and dinners were out of this world. The tasting menus consisting of 10 courses each were masterpieces created by a group of top chefs, presenting their specialty dishes. There were so many events going on each day that it was difficult to choose.

On Friday and Saturday, some events I attended were A Magical Evening with Michelin Stars, Stars of Napa Valley, and a dinner honoring Food and Wine Magazine’s best Sommeliers. Genevieve Janssens, Mondavi’s Director of Winemaking, and Haute Ambassador as well, paired 10 exquisite Mondavi wines with the 10-course tasting menu. Some of the Best Sommeliers of 2011 in attendance were ShebnemInce, Matt Straus, Clint Sloan, John Slover, Steven Grubbs and Mark Eberwein.

The Interactive Lunch with Guy Fieri was an exciting experience. Shortly after coming on stage, he took off his white chef’s robe to reveal his black outfit decorated with gold dragons. With his spikey blonde hair, dark sunglasses and cheering fans in the audience, he looked every bit like a rock star, not to mention the fabulous cooking he taught us!

Jacques Pepin, the French culinary master did a cooking demonstration with his charming daughter Claudine. Watching the father-daughter dialogue on stage was like a sit-com, and of course, the food was delicious. He demonstrated how to prepare six egg dishes. I never thought something as simple and basic as an egg could be prepared in so many delicious ways. In fact, Pepin taught several cooking classes in my chateaux in France years ago, so it was so nice to see him again. I also enjoyed meeting Tyler Florence as I recently dined a fantastic dinner at his new restaurant El Paseo in Mill Valley, California.

With 7,000 attendees, 250 wineries and 100 of the best chefs, the 2011 Pebble Beach Food and Wine events was a delicious weekend filled with unforgettable experiences!