Pretty in white.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA — After five years of drought, the snow was back and the waterfalls gushing like crazy this winter in this spectacular national park (click on the Instagram video below).
The Ahwahnee may now be known as the Majestic Yosemite (because its former concessionaire Delaware North claims it owns the park’s historic names after trademarking them); and the former “Chefs’ Holidays” event is now referred to as “Taste of Yosemite.” But no matter what you call it, a bevy of stellar chefs were more than happy to be back for this 32nd year, and yours truly was once again the moderator for the two closing sessions of this annual gourmet event.
Every year, I get a chance to meet newcomers who are not only attending their first gala dinner event here, but visiting the park for the very first time, too. That’s coupled with regulars, some of whom have been attending this glorious event for more than seven years.
Each sessions features three chefs or gourmet purveyors who each do a cooking demo. There’s a wine reception where you can mingle with the chefs. And every session ends with a gala five-course dinner prepared by one of the visiting chefs.
When the newest Il Fornaio opened in November in Santa Clara, it made history in the company when it became the first of its 23 restaurants to debut with a female head chef at the helm.
Chef Leslie Pineda not only made the record books for this 30-year-old restaurant chain, but she sure can cook. You can see — and taste — for yourself when she joins me for a cooking demo at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara, 6 p.m. Feb. 7.
Are you already dreading your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier?
Learn how to keep to your promise without giving up flavor or satisfaction when I host a heart-healthy cooking demo with Chef Pamela Keith in partnership with the American Heart Association’s Silicon Valley Chapter, 2 p.m. Jan. 14 at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.
Keith is a classically trained chef who was culinary director of Draeger’s and helped Williams-Sonoma develop its cooking classes. She is now the owner of Burlingame’s CuisineStyle by Pamela Keith, a culinary event company that offers catering, as well as cooking parties and team-building classes. She is also the owner of the inviting Taylor’s Bay Cafe in Burlingame, named for her daughter.
You may remember Chef Vittal Shetty from his days as corporate executive chef for Amber India restaurants. Now, he has his own Bay Area catering company, Jalsa Catering & Events.
Come take a taste of his sophisticated Indian fare when he joins me for a cooking demo at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara, 2 p.m. Dec. 11.
You’re in for a meaty time when Chef Jared Montarbo of Alexander’s Steakhouse joins me for a cooking demo, 1 p.m. Sept. 18, at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.
The upscale, Asian-inflected steakhouse recently re-opened in a new, larger location in the Main Street Cupertino development. Its centerpiece is a dry-aging room that’s visible right when you walk in the doors, where magnificently marbled Japanese Wagyu is on display.
Montarbo is a Bay Area-native, who enrolled at the California Culinary Academy at the young age of 17, before going to cook for Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.