The James Beard Gourmet Four-Course Luncheon features four dishes prepared by headliner chefs.PHOTOGRAPH BY TIFFANY L. CLARKDon’t miss these separately ticketed special events. For event time and pricing details, and to reserve your seat, visitpalmdesertfoodandwine.com.PHOTOGRAPH BY GREGG FELSEN
Under the Tuscan Moon
Toscana Country Club
Toscana Country Club’s Jack Nicklaus–designed South Course serves as a splendid backdrop for this cocktail party and dinner benefiting FIND Food Bank and Friends of the James Beard Foundation. The alfresco evening on March 24 begins with passed hors d’oeuvres; then comes the formal three-course dinner with wine pairings. Toscana executive chef Alain Redelsperger and acclaimed restaurateur Lisa Dahl orchestrate this masterpiece meal with the finest ingredients — and with support from Redelsperger’s top-notch team of Toscana line cooks and service staff.In addition to being a night and a meal to remember, it’s a great opportunity to check out one of the Coachella Valley’s prestigious private clubs.PHOTOGRAPH BY GETTY IMAGES
COOKING WITH SPICESWITH CHEF GALE GAND
Savory Spice Shop
Without a little spice, the world would be pretty bland. But if your kitchen is anything like the average American’s, your spice cabinet is brimming with little glass jars of dried herbs and seasonings that you acquired for one special recipe and haven’t used since. (When was the last time you checked the expiration dates, anyway?)Never fear, award-winning pastry chef Gale Gand is here with an expert lesson on flavoring your fare with the finesse of a true chef on March 24 at Savory Spice Shop in Palm Desert. This presentation focuses on everything seed mix, a blend of white and black sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion, and garlic flakes. You may be familiar with this mix atop a bagel, but there are so many other ways to use it. Gand shows you how at Savory Spice Shop, which stocks more than 400 spices and seasonings from around the world.PHOTOGRAPH BY DRE NAYLOR
James Beard GourmetFour-Course Luncheon
MAIN TENT AT THE FESTIVAL
Begin your weekend with an afternoon feast on March 25 prepared live onstage by some of your favorite celebrity chefs. This annual luncheon sells out every year, and for good reason. It features four magical courses, each whipped up by someone new. As you dine and enjoy fine wine pairings, the TV darlings dish on their recipes, the ingredients, and how each component comes together on the plate. If you’ve ever watched a cooking show and wished you could sneak a taste, this is the experience for you. Veteran co-hosts Zac Young and Carla Hall maintain a natural banter to entertain between bites. As for the menu, you’ll enjoy innovative fare from cheese guru Afrim Pristine;Master Chef Season 6 winner Claudia Sandoval; Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Curtis Stone; and syndicated radio host Jamie Gwen.
The luncheon menu includes a Mediterranean buffalo mozzarella salad from Afrim Pristine; a scallop and pomegranate aguachile from Claudia Sandoval; braised short ribs with potato foam, spring vegetables, and morel sauce from Curtis Stone; and Jamie Gwen’s burnt cheesecake with Amarena cherry chocolate sauce and candied pistachios.
“I am thrilled to be able to share Latin American food with people. Food is a master connector, and I hope to remind people how much more alike we are than different, through food.”
— Claudia Sandoval
Celebrity Chef Reception
SCOTT GRIFFITH AND GREGG FLETCHER RESIDENCE
Party with the chefs that you know and love from TV at this exclusive cocktail soirée on March 25. Here, the festival participants aren’t secluded to a stage; rather, they’re milling around with a libation in hand, eager to meet and mingle with fellow foodies. Garrison Brothers, the first bourbon distillery outside the borders of Kentucky, located in Texas, will be mixing up unique signature drinks all night. Special guests include Curtis Stone, Jamie Gwen, Claudia Sandoval, Gale Gand, Paulette Goto, Carla Hall, and Afrim Pristine, all of whom will be hosting culinary demonstrations during the two days of Grand Tastings that follow.PHOTOGRAPH BY GETTY IMAGES
TENT 2 AT THE FESTIVAL
When agriculturalists discovered the environmental similarities of the Coachella Valley and the Middle East in the late 1800s, they made an organized effort to import date palms to the Southern California region in attempt to cultivate the exotic fruit on American land.
Dates flourished here and have become one of the most important agricultural crops in the area. The naturally sweet fruit is delicious, and it’s good for you too — packed with fiber and other essential nutrients. At Date Camp on March 26, presented by the California Date Commission, second-generation date farmer Mark Tadros provides an entertaining and informative discussion about this region’s staple fruit. California Date Commission celebrity ambassador Aarti Sequeira joins Tadros to demonstrate cooking techniques with the versatile ingredient.
“Food is fuel for your body. You need to feed it with the right type of fuel.”
Tent 1 at the festival
When it comes to comfort staples, it's hard to beat a warm, fluffy, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth biscuit. That's the kind of familiar flavor that transports you back in time to a moment in your grandmother's kitchen as a child. With the foundation just a few basic ingredients, a humble scratch-made biscuits can be dressed up with a wide variety of fun additions. In this morning meet-up on March 26 with Carla Hall and Zac Young, the two chefs will each prepare their own variation: Hall presents her signature buttermilk version, while Young puts a bloody mary spin on his. Sample the fresh-based creations along with other breakfast bites and beverages.• READ NEXT: Grand Tastings: 2 Days of Feasting at Palm Desert Food and Wine.