I excitedly began to look around and I had a severe case of sensory overload! First, the setting was spectacular. It was a clear and sunny day, with a beautiful view of the Monterey Bay.
I spotted Alton Brown!! I did try to get a photograph with him, but I'm just not aggressive enough. I have to say that AB is a very gracious person. Not once did he snub anyone who asked for his photograph. He's also very funny.
My new friend, Valerie, watched my purse so that I could find a glass of wine. There was a lot of food!
Check out all of the oysters! Would you believe I don't like oysters. I know-- what a travesty!
I moved on to the cheese selection-- pretty, but I was far too excited to try and plate a selection of those.
I stopped to survey the ingredients table:
Pictured are Alexandra Guarnaschelli, from NY's Butter Restaurant, and Thomas Keller and Sam Choy.
Finally, I settled on crostini with morels and wild mushrooms, and seared scallops. Now, that's what I'm talkin' about!
I hurried back to my seat and took photos of my lovely appetizers (while my non food blogging friends smiled at my trying to balance a plate on my lap to use my macro lens). Doesn't this look marvelous?
Valerie graciously brought a dessert plate:
I'm really beginning to like Valerie...Our seats were directly in front of Nate Appleman, co-owner and executive chef of A16 Restaurant (San Francisco) and a Beard Award nominee. He's adorable... honestly, he's a cutie patootie.
To my right was Alexandra Guarnaschelli, from NY's Butter Restaurant-- and also from Food Network shows "Chopped" and as a judge on "Iron Chef". In person, she's delightful. We locked eyes, and she gave me a warm hello and she was very gracious. She's very different than the harsh judge personna she has on "Chopped".
Alton Brown and Sam Choy (Sam Choy's Breakfast, Lunch & Crab in Honolulu) and Iron Chef guest were circulating during the competition.
Other guests chefs were Xavier Deshayes (Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center-- Washington D.C.) and Canadian Chef Paul Rogalski. Thomas Keller (The French Laundry) sat three seats to my right along with numerous celebrity chefs.
The secret ingredient was Albacore Tuna. This event was nothing like the Iron Chef show on Food Network. It was low key, and the chefs were very relaxed. Alton Brown kept us all laughing-- especially when he made fun of Alexis' quinoa. Truthfully, I haven't learned to bond with it, either.
Nancy and I were spellbound, just watching all the knife skills.
Truly, it was so hard for me to even think about wanting to eat the wonderful hor's doevres. I found myself watching Nate prepare several dishes with his lovely sous chef (whose name was not mentioned).
It's getting late, and I have more to share. Actually, I had so much fun-- and I want to share those highlights with you. Hopefully, you'll tune in tomorrow for Part II of my fun evening in my beautiful hometown of Monterey, California.