AT&T Park's Club Level was busting with more chefs, bartenders, and winemakers than ever before at this year's Taste of the Nation benefit for Share our Strength. In fact there were twice as many guests (around 700) and chefs (46) in the room compared to last year's event at Acme Chophouse. This most-talked-up epicurean charity event saw food-loving Bay Area residents rubbing elbows and more with industry notables and non-notables -- many of whom were pushing each other out of the way to get to the gnocchi, doled out by Matthew Accarino at SPQR's table, or the tuna sashimi served up by Mike Selvera at Bar Crudo. The loose-lipped nature of the evening always leads to a few good revelations:
1. Jen Beisty, executive chef of Scala's, was wide-eyed and smiling as she spoke with Kevin Westlye of the GGRA about a pig butchery demo she'll be doing at August’s SF Chefs. Food. Wine. Kevin told us they’ll be arranging more industry-geared events this year for SF Chefs., with focused seminars for bartenders, chefs, and winemakers.
2. We caught Gordon Drysdale at the Pizza Antica table who told us Cafe des Amis is on track for a late June/early July opening. He's amped about the food they’ll be bringing to Union Street, but didn’t want to reveal too much more at this stage of the game.
3. You'll see in the gallery, Corey Lee prepared a special bite indicative of what's he's planning for Benu at the VIP reception. It was impeccably presented, even though it was only for a handful of people.
4. Daniel Patterson who rarely shows his face at such packed, gregarious affairs, was in the house assisting chef Lauren Kiino with her dish for forthcoming Oakland venture, Plum. You’ll also notice in the gallery he was enraptured by Corey’s explanation at the VIP reception.
5. Craig Stoll was doling out a wild fennel sausage at the Delfina stall and he loves that everyone fed into his tweet. He doesn't have that much more to say right now about his Roman spot going into the Ramblas space, but he's sure we'll find out about it before he's ready to tell us.
6. Parke Ulrich of Waterbar, was glowing. He commented that yesterday was a great day to wake up having received a three star review from Bauer.
7. Liquor and wine stands were littered throughout the room and most of the crowd was nicely lit by curtain close at 9 p.m. 15 Romolo, Cantina, Rye, and Cent'Anni Cocktails all created a signature drink or two. And, of course, Martin Cate was in full-effect at the Smuggler's Cove tiki-themed table with an extra-heavy pour.
8. Bradon Jew of the much-anticipated Bar Agricole couldn’t commit to anything beyond “summer” as an opening date for the locavore bar and restaurant he’s planning with Thad Vogler. He can’t wait to get into his own kitchen.
9. Despite being the fearless chef leader of the event, Traci Des Jardins let all her chefs de cuisine represent for their individual restaurants, and was happy to sit back and play gracious host. Her name was not on any of the restaurant signs in which she’s involved: Jardiniere, Manzanita, Mijita, or Public House.
10. HMS, the new cocktail catering service from H. Joseph Erhmann, Marco Dionysos, and Scott Beattie debuted their concoctions at the VIP. Scott Beattie made a delicious, beautiful and boozy concoction with pickled ginger.
11. If you want to see a load of SF chefs in one place, Taste of the Nation is usually the place to do it. And this year the list of local names that showed up was in especially good spirits..or was it just the free-flowing Stella? Here’s what Robbie Lewis and Dominique Crenn tweeted about the event.