Thursday, April 14, 2005
TAKE A DEEP BREATH… Whooah, what a meal at the American Culinary Federation Monterey Bay Chapter Chef of the Year Dinner (man, that name has got to be shorter)—which reminds me: Am I alone in being peeved about businesses that answer the phone something like, “Hello, welcome to (business name), we serve customers faster than a speeding bullet, my name is Suzanna, may I help you?” It’s the worst thing that has happened to phone interaction since the advent of the electronic receptionist. What’s wrong with a simple “name of the company, Ray speaking”? You know you got the right number, you know who you’re speaking to. By the time these long-winded (“Myrtle, did he just call somebody long-winded? That boy has got to look in the mirror.” “Now Harold, you know he’s got all the mirrors in his house covered up.”) hellos are finished, you’ve forgotten whyyou called.
Where was I? Oh yeah, the food at the ACF dinner at Spanish Bay. It’s always one of my favorite events, all those restaurant and hospitality horses in one stable like that, makes a guy feel all goose-bumpy. Robert Mancuso, Chef of the Sardine Factory, won this year and gave the best acceptance speech I’ve heard at one of these things. He’s a very eloquent man with a good intellect and a warm heart (sounds like I want to date him). Another really professional-sounding speech was given by Chuck “The Philanthropist” Hunsaker of Better Brands Foods, when he presented a beautiful engraved watch to Chef Mancuso.
For the dinner, each course was prepared by one of the Spanish Bay chefs, Elias Lopez, Executive Sous; Yoichi Saito, Chef of Roy’s; Arturo Mosoco, Chef of Peppoli’s; Rod Uncangco, Executive Chef, Spanish Bay; David Duron, Banquet Chef, Spanish Bay and Gunter Schowerer, Pastry Chef, Spanish Bay. Great job everyone.
Love Hunter Finnell from KION as the master of ceremonies too. He’s got just the right amount of wit, intelligence, timing and caring to smoothly emcee this event every year. Good luck to him too as he moves into the news slot to go one-on-one with Dan Green. Wouldn’t mind having both those guys on my team.
Congratulations to Robert Mancuso, Bert Cutino, Ted Balestreri and The Sardine Factory, the ACF, and Giacomo Stoltz. Why Giacomo Stoltz you say? Because as everybody who goes to this thing knows, he’s always the most obviously overjoyed, the absolute most hospitable—just like a big kid, soaking up and sending out so much love at this event that he is a pleasure to be around (sounds like I’m trying to date him too).
Great to see Christian Sprecher there as well, another former Chef of the Year winner. Had just been to his Crab Fest at Rancho Cañada the week before. It was great. The food was first class, the service was excellent, the view is always wonderful…keep your eye out for the next one (they should be running about once a month on the first Friday—but only if he can get good crab). He and his partner, Dana Durand (hey, wasn’t that a band back in the ‘80s?) are doing a really nice job with Country Club Caterers, doing all the catering for Rancho Cañada. Looks like a great fit for owner Nick Lombardo.
ALL IN THE FAMILY… Went to just the funnest gathering at Carmel’s Little Swiss Café. It was a celebration of the passing of the torch from Henk Disseldorp, who ran it from 1972 until Jan. 1 of this year, when he handed the reins to his son Steven Disseldorp. Steve is a great personality with boundless energy who has the Little Swiss humming along beautifully. You absolutely must go there to eat breakfast or lunch and check out the amazing mural by artist Andre Balyon—trust me on this one.
GET OUT YOUR CALENDAR… If you can still get in, check out the cooking class at Whole Food’s Salud! Cooking and Lifestyle Classroom Thursday. Chef Yoichi Saito of Roy’s is the teacher—it’s another in the series called Pep Talk, by Rich Pepe, owner of Café Napoli. He’s got all kinds of great events coming up there…check out wholefoodsmarket.com or call 333-1600 for more.
This Sunday, the 17th, the place to be is Wendy Brodie’s home for an AIWF (American Institute of Wine and Food) Red Wine and Chocolate Experience. Do I really have to try to sell you on this? Get over there. Call Dorothy Johnson at 655-0970, Shari Roehl at 646-1250 or Joanne Monroe at 624-3562…The weekend of April 28 to 30 is a wino’s delight around here (what weekend isn’t?). The Monterey Wine Festival goes the whole weekend, montereywine.com or 888-814-WINE…take the Saturday off and go up to the Inn at the Pinnacles for the second annual Pinnacles Wine Festival. All wineries are from the Chalone Appellation, all food from local restaurants. Innatthepinnacles.com or 678-2400…Tolosa Winery with winemaker Ed Filice at Fifi’s Café & Bistro on April 23. Really nice wines, great food from German Perez and great ambience with Calvin and Michele Wilkes. Call 372-5325 for more…Ran into Peter Charles, restaurant manager at Portola Plaza Hotel. He told me the California Grill Restaurant there is just about finished with the renovations and will be reopening in early May. Also check out the great lobby lounge there, it’s got a nice clubby feel and is really comfortable for cocktails, etc.
Want to tell you about all the happening things at the Culinary Center of Monterey, down in Cannery Row. Cooking classes, accredited culinary training, restaurant dining on premises, corporate team building seminars—Executive Chef/Owner Mary Pagan has really worked hard to build that spot into a vibrant, fun center for learning, eating, shopping, etc., 625 Cannery Row, 333-2133.
IT’S MY FAMILY… Thursday, April 14, is Sarita Mein Sweeta’s birthday. She’s my daughter. Hard to believe there was a time when I could hold her in one hand like a football and now she’s growed (that’s a word, just gotta be lookin’ in the right dictionary). Happy Birthday, you big girl you.