Days One and Two …
The Flavor of Napa was a world-class celebration of food and wine highlighting some of Napa’s best-known chefs and winemakers. Events took place up and down the Napa Valley over four days in November and included culinary demonstrations, multi-course dinners, wine tastings, and a closing brunch. Proceeds from the festival benefited the scholarship fund at the Culinary Institute of America. Participating Chefs included Thomas Keller, Bob Hurley, Christopher Kostow, Masaharu Morimoto, Tyler Florence, Michael Chiarello, Cindy Pawlcyn, Richard Blais, Todd Humphries, Jeff Jake, Christophe Gerard and dozens of others.
The main purpose of my week-long visit was to lend a hand and support the culinary team at the Dolce Hotel & Resorts Napa Valley property, the Silverado Resort. Dolce’s Silverado Resort was the host hotel, and I had the opportunity to work side by side with many of these iconic chefs.
At the opening dinner held at Silverado, Masaharu Morimoto prepared the first course of Pacific Geoduck with Kinmedai Snapper. Chef Morimoto’s team of chefs worked like highly trained surgeons with few words spoken. Their mission was clearly defined and 230 amazing starter courses were born. The next course was prepared by Chef Scott Conant of Scarpetta Restaurants and the Food Network’s Chopped fame.
Chef Conant’s team of chefs came in earlier in the day to handmake more than 2,000 Rabbit Agnolottis. They later returned to finish their dish with a Foie Gras Emulsion; all I can say is that it was off the charts. Chef Conant was a pleasure to work with, and he stayed to assist in plating even after his course was done.
The meal continued with Cindy Pawlcyn’s highly creative Bachelor’s Lamb Tagine. Chef Cindy stuck around as well and was obviously happy to be there; she knew many of the Silverado staff and instantly became one of the crew. The dinner ended with the Dolce team’s world class Miile Feuille. Every component of this dessert was handmade that day and was one of the best desserts I have ever seen or tasted.
The next day I actually headlined my own table at the CIA Greystone during the Appellation Trail tasting event. I had lost a lot of sleep thinking about what I should serve and how my dish would be received at this world class event. As a longtime resident of Peachtree City, Georgia, my plan was to elevate BBQ to new heights and show what could be done with a little imagination. After weeks of trial and error, Barbequed Duck Confit with Creamy Stone Ground Grits, Pickled Collard Greens, and Honey Mustard Foam was born. I would cure 60 pounds of duck legs, confit them, and serve with southern stone-ground grits in a crispy spring roll taco shell topped with pickled collard greens and a honey mustard sauce. It turned out better than I could have ever imagined. I served more than 500 portions in about two hours, and it was well received by the guests.
Other events included the Saturday night dinner and closing brunch, which I will detail in my next blog.