Friday, January 2, 2009

Cooking In Napa

A person called my husband one day and said "Heard you and some chefs were paid $XX,XXX to cook a dinner in Napa." Well, that's not exactly how it works. A group of chefs, who also happen to be great friends, several years ago began donating a chef's dinner package for the American Cancer Society's annual Cattle Baron's Ball. Always with a different twist, it's one of the premier live auction items for the guests to bid on, and helps raise a great deal of money for cancer research and support for cancer victims. Oh, and the chef's get $0 - they (or their companies) entirely underwrite (or get donated) their portion of any travel and food for the dinners.

In May, the chefs cooked for a group of 10 at a 25,000 square foot, $100 million dollar home in Aspen (the purchasers had the house for the weekend), this was sold at the 2006 event. At the 2008 Cattle Baron's auction, the package was a multi-chef Country Barbeque for 30 of your friends at your ranch (or home). But the 2007 package, Dinner In Napa was an extroardinary multi-day eating, drinking, laughing time for a group of eight, and included lodging at an exclusive resort and a private plane ride to Napa. Not for the chefs - for the purchasers - the guys flew coach and stayed at various vineyards that generously provided guest houses for them to stay at. And this year the chefs brought their wives along, we are all connected to the restaurant industry in some fashion as well.

The people who bought the package weren't exceptionally wealthy from appearances; four couples, three of whom had employment connections and one of whom was a relative from New York. But one in the group was fighting cancer, and when it hits that hard, you realize the time to enjoy truly amazing things is limited, and they all had a passion for good food and wine.

The posts that follow are a recounting, winery by winery of our few days in Napa.

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