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Second Annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine

4 filling days.

250 wineries pouring exclusive vintages.

60 of the world’s greatest chefs cooking an array of spectacular dishes.

That all adds up to the second annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine extravaganza, April 16-19.

Although ticket sales are admittedly slower this year due to the lackluster economy, event co-founders Robert Weakley and David Bernahl still say they hope to draw at least 3,000 foodies, (the same number as last year) to a bevy of cooking demos, reserve wine tastings, luxurious lunches, and one-of-a-kind gala dinners. As a further incentive, prices remain the same as last year, with cooking demo prices starting at $100; a one-day pass to the grand tasting tent (where 200 wineries and 25 chefs will be doling out their best) going for $165, and a seat at the grand finale dinner costing $1,250.

Last Sunday, the two hosted a dinner at Manresa in Los Gatos to trumpet the event to local bloggers and food writers, including yours truly. Weakley was the former organizer of the grand Masters of Food & Wine at the Highlands Inn in Carmel, which was forced to curtail that event at that location when the hotel was converted to a time-share property. Weakley then stepped out on his own to launch the Pebble Beach event last year.

Among the chefs participating this year are Thomas Keller of the French Laundry in Yountville, Michael Cimarusti of Providence in Los Angeles, Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin in New York, Chris Cosentino of Incanto in San Francisco, Nancy Silverton of Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles, and Masaharu Morimoto of “Iron Chef America.”

Speaking of “Iron Chef America,” recent victor David Kinch, chef of Manresa, gave a sneak taste of one of his dishes — suckling kid goat with curds and whey — which he will be serving at the luxe Cristal dinner at the Pebble Beach affair. Never before has any meat tasted this meltingly tender.

Fresh off his Battle Cabbage victory on “Iron Chef America,” Kinch couldn’t help but present a cabbage dish to us that night, either: “Cabbage and caviar,” in which a leaf of one of the humblest vegetables was enveloped in a creamy sauce starring one of the world’s priciest ingredients. Talk about a playful “rich man, poor man” dish.

This will be a busy year for Weakley. His company not only just took over the management of the beloved Carmel TomatoFest from recently retired founder, Gary Ibsen, but also has taken over the national management of the American Institute of Wine & Food, which was established in 1981 by the late Robert Mondavi, the late Julia Child, and others. Weakley says he intends to maintain the breezy nature of the TomatoFest, and to revamp the AIWF so that it’s more in step with the times.

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