Category Archives: Enticing Events

Craft Chocolate Experience, La Cocina Municipal Marketplace, and More

Inaugural Craft Chocolate Experience

Attention all chocoholics, don’t miss the first ever Craft Chocolate Experience at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts, March 6 to 8.

This sweet extravaganza will bring bean-to-bar makers, chocolatiers, pastry chefs, and cacao bean farmers from around the world for panel discussions, cooking demos, and a chocolate marketplace with more than 85 artisans sampling and selling their creations.

There’s also an opening night party on March 6, featuring a dazzling array of chocolates, pastries and cocktails.

The renowned participants include: Jordi Roca from El Celler de Can Roca in Spain; Francisco Migoya, head chef at Modernist Cuisine; John Scharffenberger, founder of Scharffen Berger Chocolate; Kenji Lopez-Alt, chief culinary consultant for Serious Eats and author of “The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science” (W.W. Norton); and founder Todd Masonis of San Francisco’s Dandelion Chocolate.

Tickets for the opening night party are $95 each; a weekend pass to the event is $145 per person.

Celebrate A Milestone For La Cocina

La Cocina, San Francisco’s pioneering kitchen incubator for women, people of color, and immigrants wanting to start food ventures, expects to open its much-anticipated food hall this spring.

Momos at Bini's Kitchen. (Photo by Eric Wolfinger)
Momos at Bini’s Kitchen. (Photo by Eric Wolfinger)

To celebrate the impending debut of La Cocina Marketplace, a landmark all-women operated food hall, the organization is hosting a Week of Women in Food, March 2 to 8. It’s a series of prix fixe dinners spotlighting the seven La Cocina chefs who will make the new food hall their home. For these special dinners, each La Cocina chef will cook alongside a well-known, established Bay Area chef.

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If It’s Monday, It Must Be Time For Burgers & Burgundies

The Selby's burger.
The Selby’s burger.

There is Meatless Monday. And there is Meatball Monday at some establishments.

But for the ultimate highbrow-lowbrow experience, there is Burgers & Burgundies on Monday nights at Selby’s in Redwood City.

Bacchus Management Group, which operates Selby’s, had featured Burgers & Burgundies for years at its Michelin-stared Spruce in San Francisco. Although discontinued there, the tradition has been brought over to Selby’s.

Last week, I had a chance to try this irresistible combo when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.

The three burgundies offered by the glass last Monday night.
The three burgundies offered by the glass last Monday night.
Enjoy one glass of burgundy -- or a flight.
Enjoy one glass of burgundy — or a flight.

The burger-wine combo can be enjoyed either in the dining room or at the bar. Think of it as a more low-key dining option at the posh restaurant when you don’t want to linger for hours over a multitude of courses.

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Scenes From Chefs’ Holidays in Yosemite 2020

The Ahwahnee Hotel.
The Ahwahnee Hotel.

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA — It may have been a challenging few months for this glorious national park, what with an outbreak of norovirus and the Ahwahnee Hotel’s loss of one star, dropping it to a AAA three-diamond rating instead. But I’m happy to report that all seemed well when I was there last week as moderator for the last two sessions of the 2020 Chefs’ Holidays event.

This popular winter-time extravaganza, which consists of fun chef demos and grand gala dinners, celebrated its 36th year this January.

There might not have been any snow on the valley floor this time around, but there was plenty of sunshine, as well as more than enough action on the demo stage to keep everyone entertained.

All roads lead to good food here.
All roads lead to good food here.

Husband-and-wife chefs John Stewart and Duskie Estes got things rolling first, recounting the devastating loss of their Zazu restaurant in Sebastopol after last winter’s deluge flooded their place, and how local high school students kayaked in with a generator to help them pump out the water.

John Stewart and Duskie Estes of Zazu Farm & Catering.
John Stewart and Duskie Estes of Zazu Farm & Catering.
Yours truly with chefs Loren Goodwin of the Gastropig, Jason Fox of the Proper Hotel, and John Stewart and Duskie Estes of Zazu.
Yours truly with chefs Loren Goodwin of the Gastropig, Jason Fox of the Proper Hotel, and John Stewart and Duskie Estes of Zazu.

Stewart and Estes may not have a restaurant at the moment. But they continue to do catering, as well as sell products from their farm, including their magnificent Black Pig Meat Co. bacon.

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It’s Time for Restaurant Weeks Galore

The signature Ensalada de Col is featured on the Oakland Restaurant Week menu at Duende. (Photo by Eva Kolenko in my "East Bay Cooks'' cookbook)
The signature Ensalada de Col is featured on the Oakland Restaurant Week menu at Duende. (Photo by Eva Kolenko in my “East Bay Cooks” cookbook)

Now is the perfect time to try some new restaurants or return to favorites because Restaurant Week is happening in full force in so many Bay Area cities.

You’ll find specially priced lunch and dinner menus at participating restaurants.

Here are some of the most popular Restaurant Week celebrations in local cities:

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48 Hours In Vegas

The Big Rig Jig sculpture by artist Mike Ross on display in downtown Las Vegas.
The Big Rig Jig sculpture by artist Mike Ross on display in downtown Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS, NV — In the city that never sleeps, one can do major damage even if it’s only a 48-hour trip, and ostensibly to take in a Lady Gaga show. But one still has to eat, right? And boy, did my husband and I do just that.

Flock & Fowl

If you’ve never ventured beyond The Strip, you owe it to yourself to take a trek downtown. It’s arguably the city’s hippest neighborhood, with bold murals spanning two to three stories high on the sides of buildings, tongue-in-cheek sayings adorning old motel marquees, and a range of show-stopping public arts pieces.

Wit and wonder downtown.
Wit and wonder downtown.

Case in point, the Big Rig Jig at the Fergusons Downtown, an old motel that has been transformed into a venue of small local boutiques and eateries. The Big Rig Jig looks like something straight out of a “Transformers” movie. Composed of two massive tanker trucks bent and curved into an inexplicable “S,” it’s confounding, perplexing, and just plain amazing.

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