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[whitespace] Masters Ceremony

One of the world's top culinary events--the Masters of Food and Wine--gets cooking in Carmel's Highlands Inn

By Christina Waters

FOURTEEN YEARS AGO the folks at Lufthansa teamed up with Carmel's incomparable Highlands Inn to host a few days of international eating and drinking as a showcase for great chefs and the world's top wines. Over the years, the Masters of Food and Wine has brought food lovers close to great cuisinartists like Julia Child, Jeremiah Tower, Roger Verger, Jacques Pepin, Wolfgang Puck, Bradley Ogden and Alice Waters. Easily one of the top events of its kind--anywhere--the Masters once again fills Highlands Inn with five days of unforgettable flavors. Cooking demos followed by opulent lunches, wine tastings and sumptuous dinners are the rule at this amazing gastronomic event. Starting Wednesday, Feb. 23, this year's Masters features the handiwork of such stars as Jacques and Claudine Pepin, Julian Serrano of Masa's, Chicago's acclaimed Charlie Trotter, Jean-Louis Palladin of Napa, Reed Hearon from Rose Pistola, Michel Richard of Citronelle in Washington, D.C., Claudia Fleming from New York's Gramercy Tavern and, most importantly, the valley's own David Kinch, from Saratoga's Sent Sovi.

Kinch joins the Masters for the second time as an invited chef, and he will be part of the alfresco team making lunch on Thursday, Feb. 24, for the wildly popular Wild Mushroom Hunt. The mushroom event is my personal favorite, where a small group of participants join mycologists Chuck Bancroft and Lee Yamada to traipse through the gorgeous Santa Lucia Mountains on the quest for edible mushrooms. Bancroft and Yamada are masters of their field, and participants will learn a lot from them walking through the mushroom-rich Big Sur forest. Besides, the quest for fungi really works up an appetite for the meal to follow. Kinch, whose Saratoga restaurant is consistently given top marks for Bay Area cuisine, will be contributing an entree creation of squab with black trumpet mushrooms, a creamy soup of wild mushrooms and black truffles, and another dish of pig's feet stuffed with foie gras and black truffles. The French accent on Kinch's menu offerings might just come from the young chef's training in Paris. The folks from Hudson Valley Foie Gras will be on hand.

Joining Kinch in presenting the outdoor lunch will be Scott Newman of San Francisco's fabled Rubicon and Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit in New York. This scrumptious event--with ample wines to match the wild foods--is priced at $140 per person. Call 800.401.1009 to find out about all the Masters action. Incidentally, this year the once-in-a-lifetime wine tastings include a vertical of eight vintages (starting with 1970) from Chateau Mouton Rothschild (Feb. 24, $350) and a vertical tasting of Roederer Cristal champagne, favorite of the Czar and me (Feb. 26, $140).

If you're serious about sampling the handiwork of reigning culinary giants, you need to attend at least one of the events at this year's Masters. Think of it as an excuse to stay overnight at one of California's great lodges.

More Wining

Mark your calendar for another big wine event coming up: the Monterey Wine Festival, March 30-April 2. Hundreds of California wineries will be there, plus you can check out special tastings, lunches, auctions and tours--all at the Monterey Marriott. Find out more at www.montereywine.com.

Mini Factoids: Chef Michael Clark, of Orlo's, has cooked for two presidents, one princess, the Queen of England and Jackie Kennedy. He also cooks for us (that would be you and me) at the handsome Hayes Mansion, 408.226.3200. ... When the Westin Palo Alto opens its new restaurant, Soleil, in April, Phillip Kaufman will be on board as executive chef. Kaufman, a CIA graduate, has cooked at Gramercy Grill and One Market, as well as with Bradley Ogden at the celebrated Lark Creek Cafe. Expect great things.


Email me! Readers, restaurateurs, chefs: Please send any news items, tips, menu changes, openings, special events and juicy gossip to cwaters@metcruz.com.

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From the February 17-23, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.




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