Lobster with Champagne sabayon, pickled seaweed and beach rose hips puree by Francis Wolf of Le Hatley Restaurant at Manor Hovey, as presented at GourmetFest.
Tranquil Carmel-by-the-Sea was abuzz over the weekend, as some of the most extraordinary chefs in the world descended upon this little hamlet for the second annual CarmelFest.
They included Oliver Roellinger of Breton, who unceremoniously gave back his three Michelin stars at his Maisons de Bricort, because he said he could not physically cook at that demanding level any more; and the legendary Michel Bras, whose Restaurant Bras in Laguiole has famously held three Michelin stars since 1999.
The intimate affair spanned three days and included cooking demos, exclusive wine tastings and gala dinners at LaPlaya Carmel, L’Auberge Carmel and a new private events space downtown.
The incomparable Chef Michel Bras (left) is assisted in plating a dish for the “Taste of France” lunch.
Bras with Chef Olivier Roellinger (right).
I was fortunate to be invited as a guest. You can tell how special this event was if even Chef David Kinch of Manresa in Los Gatos and Chef Guillaume Bienaimie of Zola in Palo Alto were lured away from their restaurants just to be guests at the “Taste of France” lunch that Bras cooked with Roellinger.
Have you dined at the wonderful new Zola restaurant in downtown Palo Alto, which has been garnering rave reviews?
If not, you can get a taste of its comforting French-California cuisine when its chef-owner, Guillaume Bienaime, joins me for a cooking demo at 2 p.m. March 14 at Macy’s Valley Fair.
Bienaime opened Zola late last summer. After years of cooking at fine-dining restaurants, including Marche in Menlo Park, he wanted to create a more personal venue with food that spoke to his heritage and used the best local ingredients.
A spectacular morsel from last year’s “Rarities Dinner” at GourmetFest. (Photo by Gina Taro)
GourmetFest Comes to Carmel in March
Don’t miss the second year of GourmetFest, March 5-8, packed with cooking demos, exclusive wine tastings and even a wild mushroom hunt.
More than 20 Relais & Chateaux chefs, including an all-female team, will be participating this year. Among the chefs are: Gary Danko of Gary Danko in San Francisco, Michel Bras of Bras-Sebastien et Michel in France, and Justin Cogley of Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel. Prominent winemakers taking part include: Dom Perignon, Dr. Loosen, Gaja and Ridge.
Events include the luxe “Rarities Dinner” on March 6, a 10-course extravaganza paired with rare wines, and “A Taste of France Lunch and Cooking Demo” on March 7.
Ticket prices range from $175 to $5,500 per person.
Ame Introduces Nigiri Zushi Menu
Michelin-starred Ame in the St. Regis in San Francisco has always incorporated Japanese influences and flavors in its menu.
“Top Chef” finalist Sheldon Simeon of Maui plates an appetizer at Hapa Ramen.
Last week, a trio of Maui chefs brought their brand of modern aloha cooking to San Francisco.
And there was nary a macadamia-nut crusted mahi mahi to be seen.
Instead, Chefs Isaac Bancaco of Ka’ana Kitchen, Jeff Scheer of Maui Executive Catering, and “Top Chef” fan favorite Sheldon Simeon of Migrant, are part of the new wave of young chefs now adding a fresh spin to island cuisine by emphasizing local ingredients in dynamic preparations.
The trio showcased their cooking at invitation-only events last week at Hapa Ramen in the Mission. Call it a cross-cultural exchange, as Hapa Ramen Chef-Owner Richie Nakano is headed to Maui later this year to show off his California cooking chops.
A kitchen mascot at the pass at Hapa Ramen.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the dinner for media and travel industry folks.
Appropriately enough, the night started off with a pink-hued Rangoon Gimlet made with Maui Ocean Organic Vodka, lime and angostura.