The third annual Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest returns to postcard-perfect Carmel-by-the-Sea on the weekend of February 25-28. And as in previous years, you will find the most illustrious names in food and wine descending upon California’s Monterey Peninsula. This year’s culinary celebration will feature 17 Relais & Châteaux chefs from around the world participating in a total of 18 unique events spread throughout the weekend. In addition to the showcased gastronomy, carmaker BMW will have some of their newest cars on display during the occasion; and several renowned wineries will be pouring rare vintages.
Pastry Chefs Liz Miller (Blackberry Farm) and Ron Mendoza (Aubergine) during the plating of Milller’s dessert course of Strawberries, Coconut Meringue, Crème fraiche Ice Cream and Candied Pecans at the GourmetFest 2015 Grand Women Chefs & Winemakers Luncheon
Festival founder and L’Auberge Carmel Proprietor David Fink will be hosting along with the stellar local team at Aubergine, the restaurant at L’Auberge Carmel led by Executive Chef Justin Cogley and Pastry Chef Ron Mendoza. Keeping with tradition, Relais & Châteaux’s GourmetFest will be headlined by several three star Michelin chefs with a 2016 lineup including David Kinch (Manresa, Los Gatos), Joshua Skenes (Saison, San Francisco), Michel Troisgros (La Maison Troisgros, Roanne, France) and Hiroshi Nakamichi (Restaurant Molière, Sapporo, Japan). There aren’t many places where you’ll be able to experience the cuisine of these international culinary masters up close and personal and all in the same location, but once again, you will have that special opportunity soon in Carmel at GourmetFest.
With an abundance of food and wine festivals these days, Relais & Châteaux has done an exceptional job of curating a standout event that delivers only the best of the best in food, wine and luxury brands for a festive, high-quality wining and dining weekend. There is also an online auction where you can bid on several of Relais & Châteaux’s most extraordinary properties. The auction will benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Carmel Chamber of Commerce and the CSU Monterey Bay hospitality program.
For a sampling of what you can expect at this year’s GourmetFest, here are some more photo-worthy highlights I captured at last year’s R&C GourmetFest weekend:
La Playa Carmel was the setting for the Opening Party
Chef Tetsuya Wakada & team plating their Salad of Aburi Alaskan Salmon w Daikon & Myoga
Chefs Olivier & Hugo Roellinger served Oysters with Cured Lemon and Morita Oil sharing the spirit and spices of their seafront Brittany property, Les Maison de Bricourt with its vicinity near the bay of Cancale and its oyster farms. They will be returning to the 2016 GourmetFest cooking together at the Father & Son’s luncheon.
Carmel-by-the-Sea and the Monterey Peninsula not only offer incredibly beautiful nature views year round, but a variety of the freshest, locally-sourced seafood which you’ll be able to enjoy while in the area.
German Winemaker Ernst Loosen (Dr Loosen) is all smiles in Carmel
Chef Justin Cogley (Aubergine) serving Rainbow Trout with Seven Herbs and Smoked Trout Roe (below) at the Opening Night Welcome Party.
Chef Francis Wolf (Le Hatley Restaurant at Manoir Hovey)’s Panna Cotta of Cultured Goats Milk, Sweet Clover, Arctic Rose Flat Oatcake, Green Alder Candied Beet and Birch Syrup paired with a 1990 Philippi Barrel Aged Auslese at the Cuisine and Wines of the World Dinner at Seventh & Dolores.
Legendary Chefs Michel Bras (Bras) and Olivier Roellinger (Les Maisons De Bricourt) discussing their game plan for the dishes at the much-anticipated and sold out Taste of France luncheon.
Chef Michel Bras’ L’endive Farcie, parfum de truffes paired with a 2008 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the Rhône Valley
Chef Olivier Roellinger’s St. Pierre “Retour de Indes” – Hommage to the 18th Century French Mariners paired with a 2011 Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair Moulin-A-Vent, Beaujolais
The All-Star Team at the Grand Women Chefs & Winemaker’s Luncheon
2005 Gaja Gaia & Rey Chardonnay Langhe from Piedmont, Italy was paired with Chef Annie Féolde (Enoteca Pinchiorri)’s Risotto with Prawns, Licorice Powder and Asparagus Marinated in Red Wine (below).
Pre-lunch cooking demo at the Gaggenau Demo Kitchen at La Playa Hotel’s courtyard featuring 3 Star Michelin Italian Chef Annie Féolde and team from Enoteca Pinchiorri.
Chef Lanshu Chen (Le Moût Restaurant) plating her Pigeon with Yilan Style Pork Liver, Chantrelles & Lapsang Souchong Tea paired with a 2012 Wayfarer Vineyard Pinot Noir from Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma County, California and a 2012 Chappellet Pritchard Hill Cabernet Franc from Napa Valley, California.
View the entire Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest schedule here, which includes these standout events for 2016:
Welcome Party (Thursday, February 25): The must-attend event of the weekend. This strolling dinner shines a spotlight on world-class Relais & Châteaux chefs – including all four Relais & Châteaux three star Michelin chefs – at stations paired with famed wine estates and beer & spirits producers and luxury vendors.
• Rarities Dinner (Friday, February 26): An extremely limited, 10-course dinner meal-of-a-lifetime prepared by three Relais & Châteaux three star Michelin chefs: David Kinch of Manresa, Joshua Skenes of Saison, and Michel Troisgros of Troisgros. This spectacular dinner is parked with rare wines directly from the Chateau, Domaines and Estate cellars.
• Wild Mushroom Hunt & Lunch with Ranger Chuck Bancroft (Saturday, February 27): Retired Point Lobos Ranger Chuck Bancroft and his team of mycologists lead guests on a wild mushroom hunt through the pristine 20,000-acre Santa Lucia Preserve in upper Carmel Valley. Following the hunt will be a sumptuous wild mushroom lunch prepared by the Preserve’s Host Chef Jerry Regester and Relais & Châteaux Chef Matt Zubrod of The Little Nell with accompanying wineries pouring rare vintages from Galante Vineyards and Dawn’s Dream.
• Father & Sons Lunch & Michel Troisgros Cooking Demo (Saturday, February 27): Delight in a lunch prepared by two iconic French father and son chefs, Olivier and Hugo Roellinger of Les Maison de Bricourt and Michel and César Troisgros of Troisgros. The lunch, paired with some of the most highly sought after wines made in France including Chateau Grillet and Domaine d’Eugenie and finished with the wines of Napa Valley superstar Araujo, is preceded by a cooking demo in the Gaggenau Demo Kitchen and Champagne Taittinger reception.
• Taste of the World (Sunday, February 28): Experience a “strolling Route du Bonheur” in which wines, many from local Monterey County wine estates, are paired with bites from Relais & Châteaux properties from all over the world.
For more information and to purchase tickets to the 2016 GourmetFest, visit:
…and while in Carmel-by-the-Sea, make sure to take in the magnificent sunset. This photo was captured a few minutes before last year’s GourmetFest began. Absolutely magical start to an unforgettable weekend.