Upcoming San Diego Culinary Events
Charity dinners and Anthony Bourdain come to San Diego.
In the not-so-distant past, San Diego was disparaged as a culinary wasteland by self-proclaimed "foodies" and critics alike. These days excitement is cooking as San Diego garners attention as the home of exciting chefs such as The Marine Room's ebullient Bernard Guillas, whose Flying Pans cookbook, co-authored with chef extraordinaire Ron Oliver, is one of the best selling cookbooks in the country.
Wild-man Brian Malarky, has parlayed his stint on Top Chef into national buzz for his Searsucker and Burlap restaurants, alongside a number of other kitchen masters, each with their own “foodie groupies.” The emergence of a vibrant microbrewery culture has taken “going out for a beer” beyond dive bars, and an exponentially growing fleet of gourmet food trucks have brought Epicureanism to the streets.
Michelle Metter, Co-Producer of the 2011San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, which takes place November 16-20, has witnessed the food-as-entertainment trend grow in the past eight years while the festival has been drawing record crowds. At next month’s event, an estimated 10,000 attendees will sample offerings from 170 wine and spirit purveyors and over 70 local and celebrity chefs. They’ll enjoy a full schedule of cooking and wine tasting classes, sit down to fabulous reservation-only meals, bid on enticing auction items and root for their favorite toque to win the $50,000 “Chef of the Fest” prize. A complete schedule can be found at worldofwineevents.com.
“Due to the popularity of culinary based television shows, local cooking demos, and increased exposure, people are starting to understand the craft, and to appreciate what goes into the culinary experience.” Metter surmises. “Food and drink has always been part of how we interact socially, but now I see these elements as being integral, not just a background setting.
The ongoing improvement in pocket neighborhoods, such as North Park or downtown La Mesa is creating improved dining experiences, and some of these neighborhoods have become dining destinations in themselves. We’re also seeing a trend in innovative concept restaurants, and that makes for exciting diversity in the San Diego dining scene, encouraging consumers to branch out and become interested in new cuisines.”
The Marine Room’s culinary team leaders Bernard Guillas and Ron Oliver participate in a prodigious number of food events throughout the year, most of which are fundraisers for a wide range of charities. They too have noticed how well attended these culinary-driven events have become, and despite lean economic times, attendees happily fork over upwards of $100 per person to share the food and the love. “There are always people who want to give back to the community,” Guillas explains. “If the experience pleases the palate as well as the conscience, it becomes a special journey for them as well.”
On November 1, the Marine Room will host the James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour. Participating in the gastronomic gala will be Jose Garces (Iron Chef America) and Valentino Santa Monica’s Nicola Chessa, as well as Chefs Bernard and Ron. For $119 per person, 150 guests will dine on a five course dinner plus appetizers and wine pairings selected by Advanced Sommelier Lisa Redwine. The menu includes such delicacies as lobster lollipops, lemon verbena Kurobuta pork lomo and a variety of exquisite wines. A few tickets are still available, check MarineRoom.com for more info.
November 10 marks the inaugural March of Dimes Salud! The event will be a cross border showcase of culinary creativity by chefs from San Diego and Baja California, featuring elixirs crafted by master mixologists along with a live auction. The Marine Room’s Bernard Guillas and Javier Plascenica of Tijuana’s Mission 19 will be joined by participants from 22 cuisine and spirits purveyors including Nine Ten Restaurant, Manzanilla, Kitchen 1540, Searsucker, Jsix, and Snake Oil Co. Tickets are available at givingscene.com.
Friday, October 28, the Spreckel’s Theater will host one of the most entertaining, globe-trotting “bad boys” of the culinary world Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain will be presenting an evening of candid and amusing insights about his life’s work and travels, including an open question and answer session with the audience.
The author and host of The Travel Channel’s popular show, No Reservations, Bourdain is known for his blunt and often hilarious observations about the world of restaurants, chefs and cooking. His books include the bestsellers Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, A Cook’s Tour, published in conjunction with his series on the Food Network. His latest book is, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook.
Tickets start at $52.50 and are available at the Spreckel’s box office or through Ticketmaster. A limited number of VIP tickets are available, which includes premiere seating and an exclusive meet and greet with Bourdain, featuring hors d’oeuvres by Hash House A Go Go along with a photo opportunity and several other goodies.