The 2016 Palm Desert Food & Wine festival is back for its sixth year of gathering all-star chef talent and food enthusiasts for three extraordinary days of wining and dining in the iconic Palm Desert landscape in California. Kicking off on April 8 and continuing through April 10, the event features the return of the popular multi-course James Beard Luncheon, live cooking demonstrations from celebrity chef talent, cookbook signings, and samplings from over 40 restaurants and 60 premium wineries, breweries, and spirits purveyors.
New additions to this year’s food and wine festivities include the “Pints & Plates” craft beer garden, offering expert-led beer pairing demos from local breweries such as Babe’s Bar-b-que & Brewhouse, La Quinta Brewing Co., Coachella Valley Brewing Co., and Hanger 24 Craft Brewery, as well as the “Chill Zone,” a dedicated section of the festival featuring all things cooling, from frosty cocktails to artisanal ice cream treats and more.
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. A sampling of featured talent includes:
- Cat Cora: first female Iron Chef, TV personality, cookbook author, and owner of five restaurants.
- Gale Gand: James Beard Award-winning pastry chef, cookbook author, TV personality, and co-owner of Tru and SpritzBurger in Chicago.
- Ricardo ZarateL Food & Wine magazine Best New Chef, cookbook author, new restaurant concept opening summer 2016 in Los Angeles.,
- Suzanne Tracht: Chef/owner of Jar in Los Angeles, Top Chef Masters participant.
- Valerie Gordon: Chef/owner of Valerie Confections, award-winning chocolatier, and cookbook author.
- Sean Le: Master Chef Junior Season 2 contestant.
Grand Tasting tickets are $100 per person/per day and include access to all chef demos, as well as unlimited food, wine, and spirit tastings. VIP Grand Tasting tickets are $135 per person/per day and include early entrance to the festival with an exclusive celebrity chef demo; unlimited food, wine, and spirit tastings; and all-access chef demos. Tickets to the James Beard Luncheon range from $125-$150 per person depending on seat selection. Guests may purchase tickets and view the latest festival additions, schedules, and more by visiting the festival website. The weekend schedule includes:
- April 8: James Beard Luncheon, inspired by the theme of “Modern Masters of the Modern Palate”: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
A four-course gourmet luncheon, prepared by James Beard-recognized chefs Cat Cora, Suzanne Tracht, Valerie Gordon, and Gale Gand. Each course is paired with a premium wine and prepared demo-style in front of attendees. To support the culinary community that makes this annual event possible, Palm Desert Food & Wine festival will donate a portion of the luncheon and live auction proceeds to the Friends of James Beard Foundation, which raises scholarship funds for culinary students.
- April 9 and April 10: Grand Tastings: noon to 4 p.m./VIP entry at 11 a.m.
A showcase of over 40 local, regional, and national restaurants, as well as 60 premium wineries, craft breweries, and spirits purveyors. The live demo lineup includes Ricardo Zarate, Sean Le, mother and daughter vegan chef duo Kelly Childs and Erin Weatherbie (Kelly’s Bake Shoppe, Lettuce Love Café), alongside beloved favorites from the local dining scene, such as Herve Glinn (Mister Parker at the Parker Palm Springs), Bruno Lopez (State Fare Bar + Kitchen at the Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage), and many more.