That Last-Minute Christmas Gift (or Early-Bird Valentine’s Gift) for the Food-Obsessed
Thu December 15, 2011 4:03 pm

Were you naughty this past year? Do you need to produce a significant holiday present to get a pass out of the doghouse? Maybe a trip for two in January to Yosemite National Park for the 2012 Chefs’ Holidays series would do the trick, especially since two top Texas chefs— Tre “Marquee Grill” Wilcox and Kent “Abacus” Rathbun, both of Dallas—are on the lineup.

So, exactly what is the Chefs’ Holidays series? It’s a sequence of eight food-centic events (each lasting two to three days) starting January 8 and finishing February 2. Each event features big-name chefs, and activities consist of cooking demonstrations, a behind-the-scenes kitchen tour, a gala wine dinner, and a “meet the chefs” reception.

But if fancy food is the prime attraction, the setting is pretty irresistible too, namely the Ahwahnee (dining room pictured), one of the great old hotels of American West. Completed in 1927, its expansive public spaces feature giant stone fireplaces, massive hand-stenciled beams, rich tapestries, and fine stained glass. Oh, yes, and the guest rooms were recently renovated. And it’s in Yosemite … around Christmas time, which in all probability will be white… and quiet … and gorgeous.

Kent Rathbun will be the headliner for Session 1, January 8–10, along with Annie Sommerville (Greens, San Francisco) and Brian Streeter (Cakebread Cellars, Napa). Tre Wilcox will be guest chef for Session 7, January 29–31. That session will include two other Top Chef stars: Ryan Scott (Ryan Scott 2 Go/3-Sum Eats/Brunch Drunk Love, San Francisco) and Brian Malarkey (Searsucker, San Diego).

Two-night lodging-and-events packages for two at the Ahwahnee go for $896; three nights are $1145 (exclusive of room taxes). Or you could stay at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls for $665 and $800. Prices are subject to change. If you just want to spring for the gala wine dinner, it’s $199 per person (including tax and gratuity).  More details here. Photo by Chris Andre.

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