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Flavor! Napa Valley at Silverado and the CIA

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The head of the CIA speaks at a welcome dinner at Silverado as chefs look on: (from left) Silverado Resort's Jeffrey Jake, Scarpetta's Scott Conant, Cindy Pawlcyn and Morimoto of Napa.
The head of the CIA speaks at a welcome dinner at Silverado as chefs look on: (from left) Silverado Resort's Jeffrey Jake, Scarpetta's Scott Conant, Cindy Pawlcyn and Morimoto of Napa.

[Photo: Allen Salkin]

For the past four days, the first ever Flavor! Napa Valley food and wine extravaganza took the Silverado Resort and Spa and the CIA at Greystone in Napa Valley. Although chefs came from all over the country to take part in discussions, tastings and revelry, the show-stopper was most certainly Bottega chef Michael Chiarello, who managed to party until 1 a.m. at Napa’s most notorious dive bar Pancha’s, wake up with excruciating abdominal pain, rush to the hospital where he had his appendix removed arthroscopically in the early a.m. and STILL appear around 2 p.m., wearing his hospital bracelet, at a cooking demonstration and lunch he was headlining at the Culinary Institute of America. Chef Scott Conant and others stepped in to lead the actual demo, but when Chiarello walked in and gave a short speech, the audience responded with a standing ovation. They quickly sat down and continued to eat dishes including spaghettini cooked in Zinfandel with spicy rapini and pecorino Romano. Chiarello did not blame the libations at Pacha’s for his appendix problems. Asked to show his scar, he demurred.

1) Tyler Florence patiently posed for photos with a long line of admirers after discussing the squid with squid-ink polenta he was serving as part of the biggest event of the festival, a dinner and tasting called The Appellation Trail. Asked often for Thanksgiving tips, he suggested to one admirer that he remove a turkey’s backbone, split the bird in half and roast it skin up. “It only takes 55 minutes to cook and you don’t dry the hell out of the breast."

2) At the same event, Top Chef winner Richard Blais dished out barbecued lamb ribs. He caused a traffic jam near the entrance area, as passing patrons proved that every cell phone is a camera when there's a celebrity chef in the house.

3) John Evans, the General Manager of the Silverado Resorts, hobnobbed with guests at the farewell brunch at Silverado.

4) New York came to Napa: A fleet of publicists and food-world power brokers could be seen around the casual Valley, easily identifiable by their sharply well-put-together outfits. Powerful NYC publicists including Becca Parrish and Jee Park darted around, along with the man who made the event come together: the always perfectly coiffed event manager Herb Karlitz, who has done everything in the business from help manage Frank Sinatra to produce events at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.

5) Overall, the event had national star power but managed to retain a local feel—the scenery of grapevines losing their leaves for fall seemed to cast a burnished glow across the inaugural festival, most likely the first of many.
— Allen Salkin

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