On March 18-19, pork and Pinot Noir lovers from around the country gathered in Sonoma wine country for Chef Charlie Palmer’s Eleventh Annual Pigs & Pinot weekend, held at the award-winning Hotel Healdsburg and Dry Creek Kitchen. Honored guest chefs, Michael Mina, Matt Lambert, Bryan Voltaggio and Barbara Lynch along with top Pinot Noir-producing winemakers, lent their talents to raise serious funds for Share our Strength and local Sonoma County charities and organizations. This celebrated epicurean weekend of Pinot Noir and pork is sponsored in part by DCS Appliances and US Bank Flex Perks Travel Rewards Visa Signature.
“I’m sure I say this every year, but the event just gets better and better,” says Chef Charlie Palmer of the successes of the weekend’s events, “The caliber of the chefs and winemakers and all of the talent that brings this dynamic event together is just incredible and has allowed us to raise over $750,000 for our Pigs & Pinot charities throughout the course of the past eleven years. I really appreciate my Dry Creek Kitchen, Hotel Healdsburg and CPG teams and everything they do to pull this off seamlessly each year.”
Taste of Pigs & Pinot
On Friday March 18th, over 600 Guests Wined & Dined on 61 Pinot Noirs, 2 Rosés & 30 Pork Tastings
The sold-out benefit kicked off with Friday’s Taste event featuring 61 Pinot Noirs alongside inspired pork tastings including:
- Charlie Palmer and Warren Bullock’s (Dry Creek Kitchen) Niman Ranch Porchetta with Wild Rice, Local Mushrooms, Natural Pork Jus, Pinot Noir Gastrique
- Barbara Lynch’s (Barbara Lynch Gruppo) Muffaletta with Mortadella, Giardiniera, and Olive
- Matt Lambert’s (The Musket Room) Rillette of Mangalitsa Pork with Sage Shortbread and Nanas Jam
- Michael Mina’s (MICHAEL MINA) Lardo & Ricotta Cavatelli with Fava Beans, Pork Sugo, Pecorino, Mustard Blossoms, Crispy Pig Ear
- Bryan Voltaggio’s (VOLT and RANGE) Grilled Shrimp with Buckwheat & Yellow Corn Grits, “Our Bay” Bacon, Spring Garlic & Wild Watercress
- Chefs Patrick & Casey Van Voohris (Spoonbar) Early Spring Vegetable Salad with Queso Fresco, Apple Mint, and Smoked Pork Consommé
Many notable Healdsburg restaurants joined in the pork party, including:
- Baci’s Carolina Pulled Pork Sliders with Mueller’s Emily Cuvée BBQ Sauce, Cole Slaw, and Costeaux Mini Brioche
- Jimtown Store’s Pork Pozole with Red Hominy and Black Trumpet Mushrooms
- Valette’s Offal’ly Delicous Corn Dog with Pinot Noir Glacage, Pickled Mustard Seeds, and Chicarron
Friday evening also included the reveal of the highly anticipated Pinot Cup winner. The notable judging panel of the 2016 Pinot Cup—a blind tasting competition among 61 hand-picked Pinot Noirs—included Peg Melnik, Wine Critic, Blogger and Writer for The Press Democrat, Ben Pearson, General Manager & Wine Buyer, The Bottle Barn, and Master Sommelier, Drew Hendricks.
Pinot Cup Winner
2014 Estate Grown, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County
Pinot Cup Runner-up
2013 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County
Tournament of the Pig
Mario Cantone Raises an Additional $5,000 for Pigs & Pinot Charities
On Saturday morning guests filed into Relish Culinary Adventures to attend the first seminar, “Tournament of the Pig,” which divided the four gala toques into two teams pitting them against each other in an Iron Chef-style competition. The emcee, actor and comedian Mario Cantone stole the show providing guests with culinary and comical commentary throughout the competition while they enjoyed sips of Pinot Noir from Bacigalupi Vineyards. Michael Mina and his Chef/Partner Adam Sobel, along with Matt Lambert teamed up against Bryan Voltaggio and Barbara Lynch and a 150-pound pig was provided by Rancho Llanco Secco along with a market basket of secret ingredients to inspire two creations from each chef team, one Peoples’ Choice dish voted on by the attendees and one presented to the discerning judging panel whose spots were auctioned off by Mario Cantone. These critics secured their coveted seats on the panel by generously donating between $1000 each, amounting in an extra $5000 raised for Pigs & Pinot charities.
Each team was assisted by Chef Palmer and Charlie Palmer Chef de Cuisines and Executive Chefs David Holman, Luke Knox, and Warren Bullock, as well as sous chefs from the visiting chefs’ respective restaurants. Team Voltaggio and Lynch won the overall competition with the Peoples’ Choice vote for their dish of loin and belly with fennel pollen on mascarpone polenta. Mina/Sobel and Lambert won the Judges’ Choice vote for their dish of “pork boner” and slow roasted loin with belly bacon, pickled shiitakes and mustard.
Ultimate Sommelier Smackdown Seminar
16 Pinots, 4 Master Sommeliers, 1 Winner
At the “March-Madness” style competition led by master sommeliers—Keith Goldston, Fred Dame, Drew Hendricks, and Michael Jordan—each host entered his personal selection of four Pinot Noirs from around the world and then “pitched” the audience on why their wine picks were the best. Four rousing rounds later, the audience ultimately named Michael Jordan the 2016 Smackdown King for selecting the winning wine.
2013 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County
Selected by Michael Jordan
2012 Mineral Springs, Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon
Selected by Fred Dame
Dry Creek Kitchen Gala Dinner & Spoonbar Swine & Wine Dinner
On Saturday night, the Pigs & Pinot five-course Gala Dinner was held at Hotel Healdsburg’s Dry Creek Kitchen. As a collaborative offering, each course featured a signature creation from Palmer or one of the visiting master chefs, paired with limited-production Pinot Noirs from acclaimed wineries Williams-Selyem, Paul Hobbs, Handley Cellars, Domaine La Vougeraie, and Mt Difficulty.
Hotel Healdsburg’s sister property h2hotel also joined in the celebration by offering a “Swine & Wine” dinner prepared by h2hotel’s Spoonbar and their new husband and wife Executive Chef team of Casey and Patrick Van Voorhis in partnership with Duskie Estes and John Stewart of Chefs/Co-Owners, Zazu Kitchen + Farm, along with wine pairings from Black Kite and Claypool Cellars.
Throughout the past eleven years, Pigs & Pinot has raised over $750,000 for its local and national charities. All net proceeds benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign to end childhood hunger in America, as well as local Sonoma County scholarships and charities. The current list of 2014 beneficiaries includes:
- Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign
- Culinary Scholarship, Culinary Institute of America
- Pigs & Pinot Wine Scholarship, Sonoma State University
- Pigs & Pinot Wine Scholarship, The Court of Master Sommelier Level I
- Children of Sonoma Vineyard Workers Scholarships
- Tuesdays in the Plaza
- Various local community sports and art organizations helping families in need of assistance
A detailed summary of Pigs & Pinot beneficiaries can be found here. The complete list of 2016 beneficiaries and total amount of funds raised will be available in the coming weeks.
Pigs & Pinot would not be possible without its generous sponsors including: DCS / Fisher & Paykel Appliances, US Bank Flex Perks Travel Rewards Visa Signature, FIJI Water, Encore Events, Relish Culinary Adventures, h2hotel, and Hotel Healdsburg, as well as participating wineries and restaurants, which help to make this weekend celebration possible. A complete list of our sponsors can be found here.
Tribute to Pigs and Pinot
For those who weren’t able to attend the official event, Hotel Healdsburg and Dry Creek Kitchen are continuing the celebration through mid-April with special Pigs & Pinot menus, hotel packages and winery excursions. For complete details, click here or visit DryCreekKitchen.com