A TASTEFUL AFFAIR
Malibu’s Jim Palmer was among the gastronomic gurus making the scene at this year’s America Wine and Food Festival. The celebrated wine maker was busy pouring a taste of his great grapes to benefit Meals on Wheels. Sensational sips of his 2007 Malibu Vineyards Estate Cabernet Franc and 2008 Malibu Vineyards Estate Sangiovese “Votress” made Jim’s place one of the festival’s top spots.
With temperatures hovering near 100 degrees and barbecues blazing, it was hot, hot, hot. But a few beads of perspiration were a small price to pay for the best food in town.
Here on the back lot of Universal Studios, the world is your oyster and it’s on a platter-battered, seasoned and fried to perfection.
Other than Vegas, this is probably the only place you can stroll down the cobblestone streets of faux France, while chowing down on spicy Tex Mex, cool Asian cuisine and sizzling steak house fare while listening to the bands strike up everything from Jazz to Jamaican.
For the past 28 years, Wolfgang Puck and Barbara Lazaroff have hosted the number one eating event for serious foodies. The delicious duo has come a long way from its humble beginnings. It started out back in 1982 with five chefs and 20 vintners on the small parking lot below the original Spago restaurant right on the Sunset Strip. “It was hot and stuffy,” Wolfgang recalls. “Everything was served under a big tent which quickly filled up with 300 hundred ticket holders and the smoke rising from Paul Prudhomme’s station where he was preparing his famous blackened redfish.”
Today, there’s plenty of room to groove as you line up for fall off the bone short ribs and tender pork belly. Fifty of the country’s top chefs set up shop and serve up an endless feast for more than 3,000 food and wine fans. As the Wolfgang Puck empire has grown, so has his top notch cooking crew. Puck’s posh eateries were well represented with a roster that included Spago’s Lee Hefter, Cut’s Ari Rosenson, Cameron Lewark of Spago Maui and David Robins of Spago Las Vegas. To make things even tastier, there were plenty of Puck pals on hand. Michelin darling Thomas Keller was there with his famous seafood along with Mozza’s Nancy Silverton, Valentino’s Piero Selvaggio, Nobu’s Nobu Matsushia and of course, ragin’ Cajin Paul Prudhomme, who has been on board from the very beginning.
Although the festival has grown by leaps and bounds, Wolfgang says the number of chefs, winemakers or guests aren’t as important as the numbers on the bottom line. “It is much more significant that we have raised nearly $28 million and that the money funds nearly 5,000 meals which go out everyday to our community’s homebound, homeless, senior and disabled citizens.” Barbara says programs like Meals on Wheels are more important than ever and proof “that we can change the world one warm meal and
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