As featured in Bay Area Bites, August 10, 2009.
To quote Mayor Gavin Newsom, “Aspen, eat your heart out.”
An epic event 2 ½ years in the making, SF Chefs. Food. Wine. was like a food-lover’s Disneyland with over 200 of the Bay Area’s finest chefs, 450 wineries, and mixologists aplenty strutting their stuff.
Over the past four days, Union Square was transformed into a playground of tastings, seminars, and demonstrations from a who’s who list of culinary legends, rising stars, artisans, and experts.
…Which made for some pretty phenomenal quotes.
It sometimes feel like a blessing and a curse to live in a city with so many amazing restaurants to try because let’s face it, who can afford to try them all? One can read about them, drool over descriptions and photos of them, and then place them on an ever-growing bucket list of places to try.
The Grand Tasting Tent at SF Chefs provided the rare opportunity to hone that list, allowing participants to really taste, touch, see, and feel for themselves, a sliver of what some of these heralded restaurants are all about. The air was electric and the excitement palpable, as the wine flowed and the bites were dished out.
It was interesting to see the chefs do riffs on many of the same ingredients that are in peak season right now: corn, heirloom tomatoes, melons, figs, and refreshing preparations like gazpachos and ceviches.
And, there was no shortage of parties…all benefiting good causes of course: the Golden Gate Restaurant Association Scholarship Foundation, Meals on Wheels, Project Open Hand, and the San Francisco Food Bank (a member of Feeding America).
Thursday’s opening night reunited Rising Star Chefs and Bar Stars named by the San Francisco Chronicle, and a special dinner prepared by Charles Phan (The Slanted Door/Heaven’s Dog), Arnold Eric Wong (E&O Trading Co.), and Martin Yan (Yan Can Cook).
Friday night honored America’s Culinary Pioneers, Emily Luchetti (Farallon/Waterbar), Judy Rodgers (Zuni Café), Patricia Unterman (Hayes Street Grill), Joyce Goldstein (author and restaurateur), and Chuck Williams (Williams-Sonoma). There was also Out in the Fog, a celebration of the diverse LGBT community, at Elizabeth Falkner’s Orson. It was chic, it was sexy, and it had a giant projection of Julia baking a cake on the wall.
Party time went strong through Saturday night, and the tasting tent was bumping with Chef/DJ Hubert Keller laying down some beats at the Urban BBQ. Rock Star.
God forbid that dancing put anyone in a negative calorie count. The night continued at a Chocolate Enchantment after-party, complete with a floor to ceiling spinning display of chocolate decadence.
This weekend’s festivities were a true celebration of the unique culinary spirit of San Francisco, bringing together a community of both industry and non-industry people through a common love of food. It was a treat to have executive chefs live and in person, serving their dishes and chatting about their food, or seeing them interact with one another and catching a glimpse of that intriguing “chef’s world” that has captured our imagination. We are a city that loves our food, and by direct association, honors the craftsmen and -women who bring joy through food.
SF Chefs. Food. Wine. hit on a winning combination of accessibility to hometown celeb-status chefs, utterly delicious food, fine wine, education, and awareness of important issues in food politics. It was fun, multi-faceted, and full of passion. It was, in a nutshell, San Francisco.
Stay tuned for more in-depth recaps of fantastic seminars, demos, recipes, and celeb chefs galore…
SF Chefs. Food. Wine.
August 6-9, 2009
Union Square, San Francisco