An Edible Ashland Affair

By Janet Eastman

There’s something gratifying about watching someone else cook. Someone else orchestrating multiple pans on a stove, mincing, pinching, stirring, then laying it all out on a plate suitable for a cookbook spread.

The fourth annual Ashland Food & Wine Classic, Nov. 5–7, provides this culinary peeking experience.

On Friday night, you can feast on a three-course dinner complemented by Weisinger’s of Ashland Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

On Saturday and Sunday mornings, take a workshop on wine tasting, beer-making, canning or table decorating. In the afternoons, watch up-close as eight culinary pros compete for the title of Ashland Top Chef by preparing a dish on the spot using a secret locally grown ingredient  — the winner, after four furious rounds, will be invited to compete in The Bite of Oregon in August 2011.

While the chefs are worried about the clock ticking down and how they’ll be judged on taste, technique, presentation and cleanliness, you can sit back, watch them work and sample artisan cheese, chocolate and bread. Don’t forget to try wine from Slagle Creek Vineyard, EdenVale Winery and other Southern Oregon favorites.

Between rounds of the chef showdown, there will be dessert competitions, with pastry chefs passing out plenty of sweet samples to try to earn the People’s Choice award.

Now that’s a cooking show.

A $70 ticket grants you access to the Friday dinner orchestrated by reigning Ashland Top Chef Franco Console and two days of workshops, chef and dessert competitions, a Food & Tasting Card and a souvenir wine glass. Individual events are priced from $15 and up.

The workshops will be taught in small groups, allowing plenty of time during the 90-minute sessions to ask questions of the experts.

Drew Gibbs, a certified sommelier and the Winchester Inn’s general manager, will offer a beginning and advanced wine education workshop in the Inn’s wine cellar. Organizers of Ashland-based Thrive, which promotes sustainable farming, have arranged for Bob Bacolas of Grains Beans & Things supply store to explain the process of home brewing, from locally sourced ingredients to fermentation.

Master Food Preserver Jacqueline Greer will offer a class at the Ashland Food Co-op kitchen on making late-harvest relishes and chutneys from Rogue Valley produce. And Pam Hammond of Paddington Station demonstrates low- or no-cost holiday table art and napkin folding.

Restaurants, wine bars and art galleries are joining the city’s food-and-wine weekend theme. Friday from 5 to 8 p.m., art galleries will host receptions during the First Friday Art Walk. And Saturday, from 5 p.m., the Winchester Inn, Tease, Chateaulin and Liquid Assets Wine Bar will offer “wine crawl” specials. Also on Saturday, Organic Nation is throwing a Chocolate Martini and Facial Party at the Waterstone Spa from 5 to 7 p.m.

Restaurants with chefs participating in the showdown will have special menus and encourage patrons to cheer on Console of Omar’s, Chandra Corwin of Cucina Biazzi, David Georgeson of Larks, Chad Smith of Chateaulin, Dawn Strickmeyer of Black Sheep, Marc Rosewood of Tease, Stefan Pena of Peerless and Som Phengphanh of Allyson’s.

Bring your culinary curiosity and take in the show. 

Janet Eastman is an Ashland-based journalist who covers Southern Oregon wine for and other media.


Fourth Annual Ashland Food & Wine Classic
Location: Historic Ashland Armory*
Address: 208 Oak St., Ashland
Date/Time: Nov. 5–7, times vary
Tickets: $70 (three-day pass to all events); $49 (Friday night dinner only); $20 (one day) or $35 (two days of workshops, chef and dessert competitions, Food & Tasting Card and souvenir wine glass); $15 (single-day pass to competitions, tastings and a wine glass).

*Events also take place at other venues in Ashland. Check website for details.

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