Here’s what’s next in food and wine…

Last month, my husband and I spent the weekend at the Pebble Beach Food and Wine and while the gustatory experience was certainly something special, my favorite part of the experience was witnessing the exquisite care and thoughtful manner in which the chefs and winemakers treated their ingredients and delicious creations.

We kicked off our time at the festival with Chef Morimoto — a huge treat. We watched as he cut a 158-pound tuna before a room of curious and impressed onlookers. The fish appeared as though it would have been a formidable opponent to the chef’s knife, but he carved it like the pro he is, with the deep knowledge of one who has great respect and connection to this animal and its service in feeding our hungry and discerning appetites. As Chef Morimoto carved, he spoke to the audience about fish in waters across the globe, what seasons are best suited for specific fish, how to successfully combine varying amounts of wasabi with different grades of fatty fish, and how to polish and store rice.

Photo Credit: Marc Fiorito // G9 Event Photography

I sat in awe at the reverence he gave each element of his sushi preparation, and the thoughtful way he approached sourcing and storing of each of his ingredients.

As the weekend continued — we participated in a number of other events — one featuring “Cabs and Slabs,” another highlighting tastes of Venice, Italy, and a grand culinary tasting with more food and wine than one could ever consume in an afternoon — I discovered the same thoughtful attitude from the other chefs. And what I found most meaningful of all was the conscious way in which the chefs sourced their meat. I was happy to eat the food of chefs who care about the humane treatment of the animals they serve in their restaurants.

Photo Credit: Grace Sager // G9 Event Photography

We chose to stay right in the heart of Carmel, at L’Auberge Carmel, a Relais and Chateau resort that has a yummy breakfast included with your stay (as if we needed more food!). After our last night at the festival, we relaxed in our room and spoke about the movement towards mindfulness in the culinary world that we witnessed that weekend and the increasingly obsessive attention we have about every aspect of what we put into our mouths and bellies. 

As we spoke, I couldn’t help but hear the words of Ruth Reichl, the venerated former New York Times food critic and editor of Gourmet magazine, reverberate in my ears. Just days before, I listened to her speak about the importance of not just caring about the food itself but the people who work to get that food on our tables. The pickers. The factory farm workers. The packers.

So much attention lately has been focused on the quality of our food, but so little attention has been directed to those people who get our ingredients onto supermarket shelves or into the kitchens of our favorite restaurants.

I hope Ruth is right, and that next year as I marvel at the mouth-watering creations these chefs offer festival goers (and they really were mouth-watering), and admire the chefs’ incredible care for their ingredients, we’re also talking about the other people behind all this magic.