For those who want to experience our country's natural treasures but aren't the camping type, here is the event for you. The 26th annual Yosemite Chefs' Holidays series of chef demonstrations, presentations, dinners, receptions and such at the Ahwahnee gets under way on January 9th, with the eighth and final session taking place on February 4th. Take note: this event isn't a cheap date.
Los Angeles is well represented throughout, especially since an entire Taste of L.A.-themed session is scheduled for January 26th and 27th, with former Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chief Barbara Fairchild on board, plus chefs Neal Fraser, Suzanne Goin, and David Lentz. Other kitchen pros from our neck of the woods heading up to experience the wilderness of Yosemite -- tamed from within the confines of an historic luxury hotel, of course -- include Tony DiSalvo, Michael Cimarusti, and Andrew Kirschner. For the entire agenda, plus thoughts from a few of the chefs, turn the page.
Goin speaks from experience when she suggests that for her (and presumably most of the other chefs), the setting is a major part of the lure. "The Ahwahnee is so majestic and you really feel like you are in another era, cooking dinner to be served in that candle-lit gorgeous hall is truly an honor," she tells us. Meanwhile, this will be the first year for Kirschner of Wilshire Restaurant. "I've only heard great things from other chefs, especially the spirit of camaraderie among everyone and the enthusiasm of the guests," he says. And yet let's face it: Chefs' Holidays isn't entirely about the cooking. "I'm eager to get on my skis and discover Badger Pass and check out Yosemite in the winter. Wish me snow for February 1 through 3."
Here's the complete Chefs' Holidays agenda:
Session 1: January 9 - 11 (Sunday - Tuesday)
Theme: Chefs of Pat Kuleto Restaurants
Moderator: Pamela Wischkaemper, Culinary Consultant
A collaborative dinner featuring one course from each chef.
Host Chef: Percy Whatley, The Ahwahnee
Guest Chefs: Mark Franz & Emily Luchetti (pastry), Farallon, San Francisco; Parke Ulrich, Waterbar, San Francisco; Adam Mali, Nick's Cove, Point Reyes
Session 2: January 12 - 13 (Wednesday - Thursday)
Moderator: Pamela Wischkaemper
Headliner: Michael Tusk, Quince, San Francisco
Demonstrators: Colin Ambrose, Estia's Little Kitchen, Sag Harbor, NY; Jesse Ziff Cool, Flea Street Café, Menlo Park
Session 3: January 16 - 18 (Sunday - Tuesday)
Moderator: Izabela Wojcik, Director of House Programming, James Beard Foundation
Headliner: Michael Cimarusti, Providence, Los Angeles
Demonstrators: Ariane Duarte, CulinAriane, Montclair, NJ; Scott Youkilis, Maverick/Hog & Rocks, San Francisco,
Session 4: January 19 - 20 (Wednesday - Friday)
Theme: Culinarians from the San Francisco Ferry Building
Moderator: Izabela Wojcik,
Headliner: Traci Des Jardins, Jardinière & Mijita
Demonstrators: Peg Smith & Sue Conley, Cowgirl Creamery/Sidekick; Michael Recchiuti, Recchiuti Chocolates
Session 5: January 23 - 25 (Sunday - Tuesday)
Moderator: Barbara Fairchild
Headliner: Tony DiSalvo, Whist, Santa Monica
Demonstrators: Douglas Keane, Cyrus, Healdsburg, CA; Annie Somerville, Greens, San Francisco
Session 6: January 26 - 27 (Wednesday - Thursday)
Theme: Taste of L.A.
Moderator: Barbara Fairchild
A collaborative dinner featuring one course from each chef:
Host Chefs: Percy Whatley and Paul Padua, The Ahwahnee
Guest Chefs: Neal Fraser, Grace; Suzanne Goin, Lucques/AOC/Tavern; David Lentz, the Hungry Cat
Session 7: January 30 - February 1 (Sunday - Tuesday)
Moderator: Andrew Friedman, Author
Headliner: Barbara Lynch, No. 9 Park, Boston, MA
Demonstrators: Jerry Traunfeld, Poppy, Seattle, WA; Elizabeth Falkner; Citizen Cake & Orson, San Francisco
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Session 8: February 2 - 3 (Wednesday - Thursday)
Moderator: Andrew Friedman
Headliners: Duskie Estes & John Stewart, Zazu/Bovolo/Black Pig Meat Co., Healdsburg
Demonstrators: Brandon Miller, Mundaka, Carmel; Andrew Kirschner, Wilshire, Santa Monica