Chef’s Holidays in Yosemite, An Unforgettable Winter Road Trip

Occasionally we all crave a road trip somewhere special to recharge, and this winter The Ahwahnee in Yosemite National Park, announces the 2011 Chefs’ Holidays featuring 29 world-class chefs from across America.

Truth be told, with all the wonderful winter activities offered at Yosemite such as skiing, hiking, and ice skating, you’ll need to spend a few extra days to enjoy this gem to its fullest.

Chef’s Holidays is truly the way to savor the country’s best culinary talent in the wintertime majesty of Yosemite National Park.

The Ahwahnee, a full-service, AAA Four-Diamond hotel located in Yosemite National Park, offers a spectacular lineup for the 26th annual Chefs’ Holidays event series where cooking couples can learn, sample, and celebrate the range of styles, personalities, and trends that characterize the American culinary scene.

Since 1985 The Ahwahnee and Yosemite has provided the perfect backdrop for an annual celebration of food, wine and culinary masters who innovate American cuisine from coast to coast.

Guests meet the chef’s, enjoy fascinating and educational demonstrations with tastings, and experience a fascinating behind-the-scenes kitchen tour. As if that wasn’t enough, the grand finale includes a romantic five-course gala dinner prepared by the headliner chef, complete with wine pairings, and served by candlelight in The Ahwahnee Dining Room. If you ever wanted to learn the inside secrets from world famous chef’s, then this is your chance.

Chefs’ Holidays 2011 brings together 29 prominent American chefs and culinary professionals from Boston to Los Angeles in a wintertime celebration that includes a series of eight sessions from January 9 to February 4, 2011.

“Chefs’ Holidays is a much-anticipated event each year at The Ahwahnee,” says Chance Jorgensen, general manager of The Ahwahnee. “Guests enjoy the magic and comfort of being surrounded by a breathtaking winter wonderland setting and interacting with the country’s best culinary professionals.”

“We work hard to bring the best of the best to Chefs’ Holidays each year,” says Program Director and Chief Concierge Kathy Langley. “Many of our participating chefs are nationally-known for their talent and have been recognized with James Beard Awards. Others you may recognize by their participation in such shows as ‘Iron Chef’ or ‘Top Chef’ and others continually ‘wow’ guests nightly at their restaurants. This is a chance for people to get up close and personal with some of their favorite chefs in the industry.”

Since its inception over two decades ago, as a small gathering of top chefs and hotel guests, Chefs’ Holidays has become a premier destination for epicures and culinary professionals alike.

“I look forward to Chefs’ Holidays year after year,” said Chef Jesse Ziff Cool of Flea St Café, who has been part of the event since 1989. “There’s a genuine camaraderie among the guest chefs and the staff in The Ahwahnee kitchen. The positive energy spills over to everyone involved. It’s truly rewarding to give participants a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what really happens in the professional culinary world. For all of us, it is a magical opportunity and pleasure to step out of our restaurants for a few days and into one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world. We all feel honored to take part in this extraordinary culinary celebration.”

Chef’s Holidays offers two- and three-night packages at The Ahwahnee and Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, which include lodging for two and admission for two to three culinary demonstrations, the private “Meet the Chefs” reception, behind the scenes kitchen tour, and the spectacular five-course Chefs’ Holidays Gala Dinner with wines to complement, all served in the majestic Ahwahnee Dining Room.

While in the park, save some time to visit historic Badger Pass  for top-notch powder, both downhill sports, cross country and even serene snowshoe hikes. Nothing beats the romance of ice skating with the tapestry of Yosemite Valley framing the spectacular views. Yosemite Valley continues to offer outstanding winter outdoor recreation and there exists no place more beautiful in the winter for enjoying some of the world’s most glorious settings while luxuriating in award winning accommodations.

Session 1: January 9-11, 2011 ~ “Chefs of Pat Kuleto Restaurants”

A collaborative dinner featuring one course from each chef: Percy Whatley—The Ahwahnee; Mark Franz & Emily Luchetti (pastry)—Farallon, San Francisco, CA; Parke Ulrich—Waterbar, San Francisco, CA; Adam Mali*—Nick’s Cove, Point Reyes, CA.  Moderator: Pamela Wischkaemper, Culinary Consultant.

Session 2: January 12-13

Headliner: Michael Tusk*—Quince, San Francisco, CA; Demonstrators: Colin Ambrose—Estia’s Little Kitchen, Sag Harbor, NY; Jesse Ziff Cool—Flea Street Café, Menlo Park, CA. Moderator: Pamela Wischkaemper.

Session 3: January 16-18

Headliner: Michael Cimarusti*—Providence, Los Angeles, CA; Demonstrators: Ariane Duarte—CulinAriane, Montclair, NJ; Scott Youkilis—Maverick/Hog & Rocks, San Francisco, CA.  Moderator: Izabela Wojcik, Director of House Programming, James Beard Foundation.

Session 4: January 19-20 ~ “Culinarians from the San Francisco Ferry Building”

Headliner: Traci Des Jardins—Jardinière & Mijita; Demonstrators:                Peg Smith & Sue Conley—Cowgirl Creamery/Sidekick; Michael Recchiuti—Recchiuti Chocolates.  Moderator: Izabela Wojcik.

Session 5: January 23-25

Headliner: Tony DiSalvo—Whist, Los Angeles, CA; Demonstrators: Douglas Keane—Cyrus, Healdsburg, CA; Annie Somerville—Greens, S.F. CA. Moderator: Barbara Fairchild, Editor in Chief, Bon Appétit magazine.

Session 6: January 26-27 ~ “Taste of LA”

A collaborative dinner featuring one course from each chef. Host Chefs: Executive Chef Percy Whatley and Pastry Chef Paul PaduaThe Ahwahnee; Guest Chefs: Neal Fraser—Grace, Los Angeles, CA; Suzanne Goin—Lucques, Los Angeles, CA; David Lentz*—The Hungry Cat, Los Angeles & Santa Barbara, CA. Moderator: Barbara Fairchild.

Session 7: January 30-February 1

Headliner: Barbara Lynch*—No. 9 Park, Boston, MA; Demonstrators: Jerry Traunfeld—Poppy, Seattle, WA; Elizabeth Falkner—Citizen Cake & Orson, San Francisco, CA. Moderator: Andrew Friedman, Author.

Session 8: February 2-3

Headliners: Duskie Estes & John Stewart—Zazu/Bovolo/Black Pig Meat Co, Sonoma County, CA; Demonstrators: Brandon Miller—Mundaka, Carmel, CA; Andrew Kirschner*—Wilshire, Los Angeles, CA. Moderator: Andrew Friedman.