Friday, March 25, 2016

Superstar chefs at the sixth annual Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival, April 8-10

by guest blogger @btsunoda

Superstar chefs Cat Cora, Ricardo Zarate, Valerie Gordon, and Suzanne Tracht are among the lineup for the sixth annual Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival, April 8-10, 2016

The three-day festival, held in the heart of Palm Desert’s famed El Paseo shopping district, is produced by Palm Springs Life magazine in conjunction with co-producers Tony Marchese and Dominic Peterson. The Festival begins Friday, April 8 with a four-course gourmet luncheon, expertly prepared by celebrity chefs and served in an elegantly-appointed tent. The luncheon is followed by two days of Grand Tastings, featuring delectable morsels from more than 40 restaurants, created by renowned chefs from all across California. More than 70 premium wines and champagnes will be offered. In addition there will be 20 live cooking demos.

I recently attended a media tasting event and was able to preview some of the tasty bites, wine and liqueurs that will be served.
A sampling of premium beer and wines were available for us to taste. The Kenwood Yulupa Cuvée Brut was a well balanced sparkling wine with hints of fresh peach. It was a great way to invigorate my palate for what I was about to sample.
Executive chef Engin Onural from The Venue Sushi Bar and Sake Lounge in Palm Desert prepared 3 offerings of common menu items: sunomono, ceviche and California roll. Last December, Best Chefs of America bestowed the title of “Best Chef” to Onural.

The sunomono salad was comprised of thin slices of cucumber, thinly sliced radishes, micro greens and black sesame seeds.  Because it wasn’t seasoned with rice vinegar, it was very mild. IMG_4548
Onural used fresh sea bass in his ceviche and added micro greens, sliced radishes and topped it off with a dash of togarashi. The complexity of the Japanese chili powder made the dish far more enjoyable than using chopped jalapenos.
Based on how fast the tray kept getting depleted, his California Roll was probably the most popular item that evening. The spicy cream sauce drizzled on top made his version unique.

Food Network star Aarti Sequeira was present to prepare the Lebanese meat stuffed pastry, ayares with a yogurt sauce.
She used a whole wheat pita and added a ground beef filling.
During the cooking demo, she made particular mention of the Indian spice, garam masala, and said that this was the key ingredient for this pastry. This item was similar to a samosa and would pair extremely well with a full bodied beer.

If you like horchata, you’ll love this adult version of the popular Mexican beverage, RumChata.
This is a cream liqueur made from rum, rice, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. It can be served on the rocks or be used as a base for other drinks like RumChata White Russian or a Root Beer Float.

Ricardo Zarate (Picca, Mo Chica, Paiche) was the headliner that evening.
He is a great storyteller and that evening he educated the audience about how the Japanese immigrants influenced Peruvian cuisine, in this case ceviche. Zarate prepared leche de tigre for the base and added cancha, cilantro, red onions and fried calamari.
The calamari was super crispy and I really enjoyed the creamy flavor of the leche de tigre. The calamari added a crispy texture and the cancha gave it some crunch and toasted corn flavor.

Tickets for this event may be purchased online using this link. Various VIP packages are also available. Definitely consider attending a VIP event as you get to enter an hour before the crowds hit.

Food & Wine Tents at The Gardens on El Paseo
westside upper level parking deck
73-545 El Paseo
Palm Desert, CA 92260.


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