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Savor the Central Coast with Sunset 

The inaugural celebration lauds the bounty we locals enjoy every day

click to enlarge SHELLED DELIGHTS :  Brad Buckley is sales manager at the Abalone Farm, which will provide its wares for upcoming Savor the Central Coast events. Here’s a taste of what’s to come: Chef Evan Treadwell will prepare abalone carpaccio with sake mignonette, grapefruit, avocado, and sesame. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • SHELLED DELIGHTS : Brad Buckley is sales manager at the Abalone Farm, which will provide its wares for upcoming Savor the Central Coast events. Here’s a taste of what’s to come: Chef Evan Treadwell will prepare abalone carpaccio with sake mignonette, grapefruit, avocado, and sesame.
Sunset magazine has discovered the bounty of the Central Coast, and it is enamored. So much so, in fact, that magazine staffers will be host to a four-day extravaganza—Sept. 30 through Oct. 3—called Savor the Central Coast.

Held at various venues, the event was designed to promote our artisan food producers, farmers, chefs, and winemakers. It’s an exciting project for all of these locals because it’s sure to draw a large audience of food and wine lovers from all over the West Coast who have never visited here. Over the past two decades, our major wine events attracted wine aficionados from around the world. Sunset, however, reaches a broader audience on the West Coast, and most of their readers will be eager to travel here for the experience.

Sunset is billing the days as an opportunity to “eat, drink, and learn about one of California’s most exciting culinary and wine destinations with Sunset editors as your tour guides.” They’ll bring together 35 chefs along with artisan food and wine producers from four Central Coast counties: Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. The event specifically spotlights our many organic farms and sustainably raised and farmed lamb and seafood. You’ll meet the artists during culinary tours, V.I.P. receptions, and chef demonstrations; sample dishes at the main events; and join winemakers’ dinners throughout the four-day weekend. The main events on Saturday and Sunday bring them all together at Santa Margarita Ranch.

Cleverly coined as an “edu-tainment” event, the culinary, winery, and vineyard tours will expose guests to an array of interesting local features; they’ll see the Abalone Farm’s tanks that mimic the natural tide pool environment where they raise their California Red Abalone; local wineries that farm grapevines organically; and great chefs like Ian McPhee create an outstanding breakfast with freshly harvested produce, fruit, and more. The latter, titled “Fresh from the Fields,” will be held on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and it includes early entry to the main event at Santa Margarita Ranch. On Saturday, FoodTV celebrity chef Tyler Florence will present a live cooking show, preparing his signature cioppino with sustainable seafood.

As early as Sept. 1, Dolphin Bay Resort was nearly sold out for the entire weekend of the event—and it will be when the weekend begins. Chef Evan Treadwell said Savor the Central Coast is already helping the resort and Lido restaurant. He, too, is looking forward to participating at the Santa Margarita Ranch main event.

“There’s a ton of talent coming together here,” he said. “Sunset has a lot of people dedicated to making Savor a world-class event.”

Treadwell is preparing a special recipe for the Saturday and Sunday main events: seared scallop served on slice of baguette with red curry/honey sauce, and seasonal stone fruit.

“Savor focuses on local chefs and gives them the opportunity to showcase themselves in their own backyard,” Treadwell noted. “Normally, we have to travel somewhere else to do something like this.”

Chef Julie Simon of Thomas Hill Organics in Paso Robles is equally enthusiastic: “I think this event is great and it shows how far Paso Robles has come.” Simon will be serving cucumber gazpacho and salted cod brandade during the main event on Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s a great occasion for everyone to show what they are doing here,” she said. “Savor is really going to put us on the map.”

Among the featured chefs Friday night at the Western Wine Awards Gala Dinner, Treadwell will prepare abalone carpaccio with sake mignonette, grapefruit, avocado, and sesame. The Abalone Farm sales manager, Brad Buckley, frequently works with Treadwell to prepare abalone for special events and cooking classes. On Friday, the Abalone Farm tour, one of the culinary tour choices, will include lunch for guests. During that event, chef Charlie Paladin Wayne will prepare a delicious abalone lunch. He’s also preparing the abalone appetizers that he and Buckley will serve during the Saturday and Sunday main events.

“Chef Charlie will be doing abalone sashimi and abalone and mushroom stuffed raviolis,” Buckley said. “We’re going to be doing something that really opens people’s eyes to the versatility of abalone and trying it in ways most people have never tried before.”

The dishes the event organizers are advertising to sell tickets are enough to make your mouth water: From Big Sur, chef Craig Von Foerster of the Post Ranch Inn will prepare roasted rack of lamb with braised lamb shank arancine, lamb confit, and lavender-roasted San Marzano tomato and garlic crumbs; from Guadalupe, Far Western’s chef Barbara Abernathy will prepare certified Angus beef cheeseburgers; and from Paso Robles, chef Julie Simon will be preparing Thomas Hill Organic Farm’s figs, roasted and served with crème-fraîche ice cream and toasted-hazelnut brittle.

This well-planned event includes free shuttle service, from as far north as San Simeon and Cambria to San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande. You can safely ride to the event and back to your hotel or hometown afterward. For details on all events and prices at Savor the Central Coast, call 1-800-768-6653; visit savorcentralcoast.com; become a fan on Facebook at SavorCC; or follow it on Twitter at SavorCC. Ticket proceeds and sponsorships are considered donations to the San Luis Obispo County Visitors and Conference Bureau, a nonprofit tourism organization promoting SLO County.

For everyone who loves great food and wine and supports our local farms, this inaugural event is great for all of us. It’s only the first of many great annual Savor events to celebrate the fine producers who have made the Central Coast a world class culinary destination. ∆

You can reach New Times’ Cuisine columnist at khardesty@newtimesslo.com.

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