Scenes From the 23rd Annual Star Chefs & Vintners Gala

For foodies, it was indeed a starry time on Sunday evening at the lavish Star Chefs & Vintners Gala at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

About 1,000 folks turned out to don their finest and to support Meals on Wheels of San Francisco, the city’s oldest and largest provider of home-delivered meals to seniors.

The Bay Area’s top chefs and vintners provided an impressive spread of eats and drinks for this annual event, which raised $1.1 million last year for this worthy organization that serves 16,000 meals to home-bound seniors every week.

Yours truly was invited to be a guest at the gala, which started off with a bang with an expansive walk-around hors d’oeuvre and wine reception, where chefs and vintners manned stations to pass out tastes of their finest.

It was quite crowded in the Festival Pavillion, but well worth the effort to jockey for position for such stellar eats.

I had a chance to sneak back into the kitchen area to see the chefs scurrying about to get the first courses ready for dinner, as an army of servers lined up in formation at the ready to ferry the dishes to the dining room.

It was quite the scene, with row after row of plates lined up as far as the eye could see. And it was fun to see the sense of camaraderie, as chefs helped one another to ensure the plates got put together on time.

The dinner was comprised of three courses, each of which was prepared by one of 27 chefs, depending upon the table you were seated at.

At my table, I had the good fortune to feast on creamy “Dungeness Crab and Firefly Squid with White Bean Salad” from Chef Ken Frank of La Toque in Napa, which was served with Rombauer Vineyards Chardonnay 2008.

That was followed by a rustic, thoroughly scrumptious “Rabbit alla Porchetta” by Chef Peter McNee of Poggio Trattoria in Sausalito, which was accompanied by a superb Nicholson Ranch Pinot Noir 2006 that I’m definitely going to seek out on my next jaunt to the wine shop.

Next, a tender “Savory Roasted Veal Rib-Eye with Foraged Mushrooms” from Chef Mark Sullivan of Spruce in San Francisco, which was paired with Hawkes Winery Alexander Valley Cabarnet Sauvignon 2005.

A dessert buffet ended the night with sweet treats from Dynamo Donuts in San Francisco, Citizen Cake in San Francisco, Humphry Slocumbe in San Francisco, and many more. If that weren’t enough, the Kara’s Cupcakes van was parked just outside the door, so you could take home a mini Chocolate Velvet or Fleur de Sel as you waddled into the night.

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  • What a great event with wonderful chefs! The food looks fantastic!



  • Looks like a beautiful spread for a worthy cause. Beautiful photos!

  • Wow, what fun. Thanks for all the photos…I *almost* feel like I was there!

  • Thanks for taking us behind the scenes. This is always one of the big events of the year (and with a hefty price tag but for a good cause). Everything looked amazing. I liked the purple cauliflower used on a few dishes, really creative a festive look for the eyes!

  • wow, this looks like a really amazing event, and they sure raised a lot of money

  • i need to be your personal assistant/intern. you are so fab and get to hang out with all those happy chefs. fabulous, just fabulous. now i know that duck fat pecan pie can be done.

  • famous faces and fine food–what a great event!

  • What a colorful array of food and characters! Some of the dishes looked incredibly time consuming with respect to the plating involved; all looked delicious!!

  • Such gorgeous plates of food. Beautiful photos…and you look pretty darned cute yourself!

  • What a great event! Strawberry and Fava Beans? Duck Fat Pecan Pie? Did you try those? Everything else looks fantastic and you look Fab!

  • Oh seems like I missed that! Wish I was there! Beautiful and fresh dishes, I can see lots of fava beans and seasonal vegetables, I can tell it was an exciting event!

  • Tuty: I sure did try that duck fat pecan pie. Awesome! So tender and rich.

  • louise Kinoshita

    Wow! What a wonderful event! Thanks for sharing!

  • I was also attracted by the Strawberries and Fava Beans….must be an exiting sneak peek into the kitchen.

    Lovely photo with the chef(s) too 😀

  • Waw!! Thanks for sharing this with us!!

    All of the fine food looks extremely tasty & so special too!! I so love the fresh fava beans with strawberries & the 2 coloured beets with salmon & I gues a decent avocado puree!!! waw!!!

    Tasty & fascinating food!

  • Beautiful event .. pic are fabulous very detail thank you for sharing …

  • Fabulous! Thanks for taking us there via photos.

  • Gorgeous photos, Carolyn! I thought I recognized you when we were all gathered around before going into the “kitchen” 🙂 Wish we had a chance to chat – next time! Finally got my pics up too, enjoy!

  • What a wonderful looking event, all the food looks delicious. I’m not sure I could pick, but did you have any favorites, something that just jumped out, or some pairing that you were surprised at?

  • OysterCulture: Hard to pick a favorite. And I wish I could have made it to every booth. I would say that the rabbit porchetta by Poggio was one of my faves. It’s a type of dish you take a bite of on a chilly night and just end up grinning from ear to ear because it’s so satisfying. That, and the curry-peanut butter ice cream sandwich from Humphry Slocumbe. My hubby didn’t like it so much. I was a little skeptical at first. But then found I couldn’t stop eating it. Very different, but it works.

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