All photos courtesy of Flavor! Napa Valley
There aren’t many experiences where hundreds of super foodies can have a guaranteed close encounter with a world-class chef. Luckily for Bay Area dwellers and fall travelers, that’s where Flavor! Napa Valley comes in. From November 19-23, the five-day celebration brought together incredible cuisine, Napa Valley wines and celebrity chefs, many of whom happen to be graduates of The Culinary Institute of America.
In just four years, Flavor! has managed to attract thousands of guests and a who’s who lineup of charismatic chefs like Rocco DiSpirito, Michael Chiarello, Masaharu Morimoto and Todd English, to name a few.
Festivities began on November 19 with First Taste Napa at the City Winery, where guests sampled cuisine from City Winery, Angéle, Kitchen Door and Oenotri. Each chef paired their dish with their favorite music, a fresh twist this year courtesy of a new partnership with Festival del Sole.
Thursday’s highlight was the welcome dinner at Silverado Resort and Spa, where guests were treated to a special meal prepared by super star chefs Charlie Palmer, Dean Fearing, Larry Forgione, Duff Goldman, Jeffrey Jake and Melissa Perello, who paired each their dish with a Napa wine of their choosing.
On Friday, The Appellation Trail offered a chance to “visit the Napa Valley” in a relaxed environment as wines from nearly 100 wineries representing the valley’s varied appellations were poured along signature dishes from 25 of Napa Valley’s top chefs and restaurateurs at The CIA at Greystone in St. Helena.
What makes Flavor! different from the vast majority of NoCal food festivals is the intimate connection between the chefs, their food and the people. Festival goers had first dibs at events of their choosing including cooking demos, special dinners, and a chance to meet – and cook – with many of the chefs on the docket. One such spectacular event was the Interactive Lunch with Chef Rocco DiSpirito (CIA 1986).
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Pound A Day Diet and celebrated chef created a healthy and interactive lunch experience. DiSpirito first demonstrated meal that started with his healthy version of gnudi that guests would also have their turn to make, followed by pork saltimbocca. Always the health enthusiast, DiSpirito infused tips and tricks along the way for a health-conscious, low-calorie meal.
The intimate group then moved into in the CIA kitchen to recreate the gnudi, where DiSpirito circulated around in the kitchen, checked on participants and visited every table during the meal! CIA student chefs were readily available to help anyone who needed assistance. The meal was topped off with fantastic wines from Beringer, Stag’s Leap and Etude. Following lunch, fans had the opportunity to buy and sign his book, and of course, take a photo with the handsome chef.
Flavor! is hosted by founding sponsors Silverado Resort and Spa and Dolce Hotels and Resorts, in partnership with Visit Napa Valley and Napa Valley Vintners.