palm desert food & wine

Palm Desert Food & Wine Rewind

Too bad we can’t experience every sip and bite all over again.

Raoul Hausmann Restaurants, Valley

palm desert food & wine
“An Evening in New Orleans” at Toscana Country Club — a special event during Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival.
PHOTO BY ARIANA BINDMAN

When I finally caught up to my cousin Chris midmorning Saturday, the first official day of the Palm Desert Food & Wine festival, he was hanging out near a small crowd that had gathered around Mike Grgich, the Croatian-born Napa Valley winemaker (world renowned for his 1973 Chateau Montelena chardonnay that bested all other whites at a competition in Paris) who, at that moment, was surrounded by a bevy of female admirers and was dispensing some profound, hard-fought wisdom.

“I am 93. It’s not so easy to survive that long. But I am proof,” he said with a twinkle in his eye while holding up two fingers, “that the key is wine and woman. The two Ws. This is what will give you a good life.”

There was no chance to snap a selfie with Mike. The surrounding ladies looked ready to carry him out on their shoulders. This is a life to which I aspire. I had barely seen Chris and his wife, Robin, that morning, as they swung by at the crack of dawn after a two-hour drive from Los Angeles just to pick up the tickets I’d procured for them for award-winning pastry chef Gale Gand’s “Pie Camp.” I was curious whether he’d picked up any tidbits.

“Chunks matter!” he exclaimed to me. “The pockets of dough that contain butter are OK because they contain moisture that, when baked, turn to steam and evaporate. That’s what makes a pastry light and flaky!”

He was talking like a madman … a madman who had just been inducted into the mystical art of great pie-making.

My first instinct, of course, was to steer Chris out of the Gardens on El Paseo, into the car, and back to the house where I would hand over a 10-pound bag of pippins, a couple pounds of Irish butter, and a sack of flour with stern instructions to practice what he had just preached.

However, at this point I’d only steered Chris as far as the festival’s Wilma & Frieda booth where chef Chad Spears was handing out roasted short rib on a four-cheese poblano gratin and plates of peach cobbler. I love a good homemade apple pie, but I wasn’t going anywhere that took me too far from the short ribs and cobbler, not for a while. Any movement was simply going to involve another figure-eight tour of the two event tents. Rest. Digest. Repeat.

The seventh annual Palm Desert Food & Wine festival was the kind of three-day indulgence that nourishes the body as well as the soul, the mind, and the palate.

marcoaguilar

PHOTO BY TIFFANY CLARK
Marco Aguilar, chef de cuisine of La Quinta Resort & Club’s Adobe Grill, prepares a gourmet morsel.

macaroniandcheese

PHOTO BY GREGG FELSEN
Mac-and-cheese preparations.

biancarae

PHOTO BY TIFFANY CLARK
Guests like Bianca Rae (left) peruse the program.

gardensonelpaseo

PHOTO BY GREGG FELSEN
Hungry crowds gather expectantly on the upper deck at the Gardens on El Paseo.

wineglasses

PHOTO BY DRE NAYLOR
Wineglasses wait to be filled.

It kicked off at Toscana Country Club on Thursday night, March 23, where Tory McPhail, executive chef at Commander’s Palace in Louisiana, created “An Evening in New Orleans” for appreciative diners. The next day’s four-course James Beard Luncheon was a star-studded who’s who of culinary talent. Television food personality Gail Simmons emceed the event while Top Chef fan-favorite Casey Thompson, James Beard Award winners Gale Gand and McPhail, and Top Chef: Just Desserts finalist Zac Young, who has been named one of the “Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America” by Dessert Professional, created one of the most extraordinary meals the event’s guests had ever experienced. That night, chef Brooke Williamson prepared a unique meal at the restored former Rancho Mirage estate of President Gerald Ford and Mrs. Betty Ford for participating chefs and select VIP guests. Alas, the closest I could get was the Cat City border, though I think I caught a slight whiff of delectability.

“I am 93. It’s not so easy to survive that long. But I am proof,” he said with a twinkle in his eye, “that the key is wine and woman.” Mike Grgich, Grgich Wine Estate, Napa Valley

The events through the next couple days were a little more democratic with the price of admission and I was able to elbow my way into demonstrations by great local chefs such as Drew Davis of Catalan, Herve Glin of Mister Parker’s, and Andrew Copley of Copley’s on Palm Canyon as well as visiting greats such as Aarti Sequeira of TV’s Aarti’s Party fame and chef Suzanne Tracht of the modern Los Angeles chophouse Jar. For two days it seemed that everywhere I turned there was a chef who both inspired me and made me feel ravenously hungry. I nearly accosted culinary celebs such as the Beekman Boys (Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell), Casey Thompson, and Gale Gand to tell them how much I enjoyed their cooking.

Perhaps luckily for all, it was never quite the right moment. My mouth always seemed to be mysteriously full.

gailsimmons

PHOTO BY ADRIANNE BONAFEDE
Food expert, author, and Top Chef judge Gail Simmons participated in a book signing for VIP Food & Wine guests.

christophermitchum

PHOTO BY ADRIANNE BONAFEDE
A delectable plate prepared by Hyatt Regency Indian Wells executive chef Christopher Mitchum.

melissaking

PHOTO BY DRE NAYLOR
Bravo’s Top 
Chef finalist and chef ambassador of Whole Foods Market Melissa King shares a few of her favorite ingredients with attendees of her afternoon chef demonstration.

chefdrewdavis

PHOTO BY DRE NAYLOR
Tasty bites of rice from Catalan Mediterranean Restaurant chef Drew Davis.

caseythompson

PHOTO BY GREGG FELSEN
Three-time Top Chef competitor Casey Thompson detailed secrets for savory Southern cuisine during her demo.

aguacaliengteresort

PHOTO BY LORETTA VLACH
Guests of the Opus One Wine Dinner at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa sipped on the 2013 vintage with a three-course dinner.

catalanrestaurant

PHOTO BY DRE NAYLOR
Catalan’s Drew Davis explains the advantage of a 
properly heated pot.

bettyandgeraldford

PHOTO BY DRE NAYLOR
Plates from Chef Melissa King.

tomatoes

PHOTO BY GREGG FELSEN
Fresh heirloom tomatoes were the star of Drew Davis’ caprese salad, prepared during his chef demonstration.

brookewilliamson

PHOTO BY DRE NAYLOR
Guests enjoyed Brooke Williamson’s strawberry lemonade spritzers at the President Gerald Ford and Mrs. Betty Ford Estate in Rancho Mirage while mingling with Palm Desert Food & Wine celebrity chefs.

spagirlcocktails

PHOTO BY DRE NAYLOR
The low-calorie samplings of Spa Girl Cocktails made a big splash in the reception tent.

aartisequeira

PHOTO BY GREGG FELSEN
Chef Aarti Sequeira, winner of The Next Food Network Star and host of her own show, Aarti Party, showcases American dishes spiced up with traditional Indian flavors.

palmdesertfood

PHOTO BY GREGG FELSEN
Bite-size treats, moments before being devoured by the crowd.

chefenginonural

PHOTO BY GREGG FELSEN
At the chef demonstration with local sushi master Engin Onural, owner of The Venue Sushi Bar & Sake Lounge, eager attendees scarf down tastings — more, please!

Food & Wine 2017 Sponsor List

PRESENTING
—
 Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, Rancho Mirage

WELCOMING
— City of Palm Desert

OFFICIAL 
AUTOMOTIVE 
SPONSOR
— Lexus

SPONSORS AND PARTNERS
— Better Built Inc.
— Cambria
— Ferguson
— Miele
— Tequila Alderete
— Constellation Brands
— Celebrity Cruises
— Shamrock Foods
— Pernod Ricard
— Hotel Paseo
— Chef Works
— TRIO Restaurant
— Voss
— Verterra
— North Shore Living Herbs
— SelvaRey Rum
— Sandy Young
— New Leaf Catering
— Eventscape
— My Little Flower Shop
— Caliente Tropics Resort Hotel

MEDIA

— KMIR
— KPSE
— LIVE Magazine
—Valpak
—The Standard

chefmikemulligan

PHOTO BY DRE NAYLOR
Mike Milligan, executive chef of Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, served up verdant plates of tender, flaky fish.

Palm Desert Food & Wine Rewind was last modified: June 28th, 2017 by Raoul Hausmann