Top Chef Meets Healdsburg
The past three days I’ve felt like I’ve been living a foodie’s dream as we have welcomed Chef Kevin Gillespie and Eli Kirshtein, Top Chef contestants, to the wine country, Murphy-Goode style. Turns out Hardy Wallace, the Murphy-Goode Wine Country Lifestyle Correspondent, has some friends in high places and Eli and Kevin brought a little bit of the South to Northern California as they whirled into town this past Sunday. There were chicken wings, sweet potato fries, foie gras and of course, zinfandel, as we showed them a good time in our little town.
To start off the week, on Sunday we celebrated the chefs arrival with a reception at the Murphy-Goode tasting room, followed by a classy barbecue dinner for ten up on the Terra a Lago vineyard in Alexander Valley. The executive chefs for Kendall-Jackson, Chefs Ryan and Eric, prepared a fabulous meal of roast pork and we dined in style. I couldn’t believe how genuine and down to earth the guys were. We chatted and laughed about butter and bacon and shared crazy culinary school tales….all while sipping on Fume, Zinfandel and homemade grappa of course.
Of all three days, I think Monday was my very favorite when we gathered at Hardy’s house for a down home barbecue with some Southern sass. Music was blasting, wine was flowing and of course, food was served; prepared by Eli and Kevin themselves. On the menu was chicken wings, sweet potato fries, cornbread, collards and potato salad. And, if that weren’t enough, after the festivities had ended, we jumped in a van to Cyrus for bourbon and foie.
Battling a dull headache, I tasted wine for two hours on Tuesday morning with the guys, beginning at 9:30 a.m. It’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it, right?! My headache melted off as Chardonnay was poured. Surprisingly (or, not surprisingly?), working in the wine industry works wonders for your tolerance levels and morning tastings take the place of meetings all around.
The true spotlight, however, of the three day Top Chef extravaganza was a seven course dinner last night at Relish Culinary in Healdsburg. Eli and Kevin prepared a stunning feast for fourteen guests, complete with oysters, smoked salmon, pork, cheese and, of course, more foie. I actually don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who appreciated foie more than Eli. The whole dinner was a success and was paired with Murphy-Goode wines to boot.
Thanks for an amazing time, guys…..and good luck!