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Culinary Celebration in St. Helena Brings Seasonal Flavor!

Flavor! Napa Valley is well underway, but seats at the table are hard to come by. Here are your best bets for rubbing shoulders with celebrity chefs and sommeliers.

The aromas of local wines, produce and Napa Valley terroir are getting pretty thick around here, as we enter the heart of "Flavor! Napa Valley," the second annual culinary festival from the Culinary Institute of America, St. Helena. Of course it featuring Napa Valley wines and master chefs and graduates of the CIA's culinary education programs, a lengthy list of participants that should have you salivating just to hear their names.

Last night's official Opening Dinner, at Silverado Resort and Spa, brought Charlie Palmer, Michael Chiarello, and the Brothers Forgione to the kitchen, with Johnny Iuzzini bringing dessert.

Over the next couple days, add to the above Anthony Dias Blue, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Karen MacNeil, Cindy Pawlcyn, Larry Forgione and many more, and you get an idea of what the CIA is up to in St. Helena. So if you see a bunch of guys sporting toques talking to others with shallow silver cups hanging from their lanyards up there, it's just business as usual at Flavor! Napa Valley.

While many celebrity chef events are sold out - a culinary demo with Thomas Keller went early - our inside-the-castle walls source outlines the following events that still have some tickets available online.

Friday, November 16

Cooking Seasonally with the First Family of American Cuisine (Noon to 1:00 p.m.):  Chef Larry Forgione and his three sons Bryan, Marc, and Sean demonstrate why they are considered the First Family of American Cuisine. Larry helped invent the “farm to table movement,” and his sons are a formidable crew, having collectively garnered Michelin stars, Iron Chef status, and critical acclaim.

East Coast Boy Meets West Coast Garden (1:15 - 2:15PM): Four-star pastry Chef Johnny Iuzzini takes a cutting-edge approach to vegetable-based desserts - yes, desserts - using the freshest Napa Valley ingredients to explore the textures, tastes, and endless possibilities of vegetables served after the main course. Learn how to make a decadent dessert even a mother can love. $100 tickets

Saturday, November 17

Harvesting & Preserving from the Meadowood Gardens (1 – 2 p.m.): After gathering a bounty of fall vegetables from the Meadowood Culinary Garden, Chef Christopher Kostow demonstrates pickling, canning, and jarring and how preserving is used in his famed kitchen, The Restaurant at Meadowood.

Saturday also has open culinary demos with Cindy Pawlcyn of Mustard's, wine appreciation sessions with Rajat Parr, Andrea Robinson and Jon Bonné, and an "interactive panel" with Iron Chef Morimoto (does that mean gongs and fog machines?). Full lists of events and experts are online.

It all ends with a (sold out, of course) Conservatory Dinner, on Saturday night, when Larry Forgione and a team of CIA students prepare a six-course dinner with produce harvested from the CIA’s two-acre student garden and locally-sourced meats, fish, cheeses, milled grains, olive and grape seed oils. Each course will be paired with local world-class Napa Valley wine, naturally.

Net proceeds from the event support programs and scholarships at The Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone Campus in St. Helena.

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