Chefs

The Ecology Center Welcomes Alice Waters

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Food

The Ecology Center Welcomes Alice Waters

Tickets Now Available For The Ecology Center’s 8th Annual Green Feast Farm-to-Table Dinner in Orange County

*HOSTED BY ALICE WATERS of Chez Panisse*
Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Ecology Center welcomes Alice Waters

Renowned Chef, Author and Founder of the Edible Schoolyard Project celebrates The Ecology Center’s work and helps to bring edible gardens to every school in Orange County

Tickets are now on sale for the 8th Annual Green Feast farm-to-table fundraiser, hosted by Chef Alice Waters on June 18th at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano (32701 Alipaz Street). Recognized as the “mother of the farm-to-table movement,” Waters has been an avid leader of the sustainable food effort. She pioneered the concept of eating locally and seasonally, launched Chez Panisse, one of the most renowned restaurants in the world, and created the national initiative, The Edible Schoolyard Project.

“I am honored to be a part of The Ecology Center’s Green Feast this year. Edible education is taking root in Orange County thanks to the vision and dedication of Evan, his family, and the community they bring to the table. We must come together to show our children how to care for each other and value the land!”

Alice Waters

Alice Waters (courtesy of ChezPanisse.com)

Waters has the been the direct inspiration for numerous well-recognized chefs, local champions, and organizations around the world, including The Ecology Center, Orange County’s premiere eco-educational nonprofit. Waters’s presence at The Ecology Center’s Green Feast signals the beginning of a partnership between two like-minded organizations and a hopeful shift in Orange County’s food culture.

“From its inception, Green Feast was inspired by Alice Waters, who is one of the most influential and important figures in food in the past 50 years. We are honored not only to have attracted the attention of such a respected culinary leader, but also to have her join our local community leaders, chefs and farmers in this powerful demonstration of the future of food, which is rooted in organics and sustainability,” commented Evan Marks, Founder & Executive Director of The Ecology Center. “With Alice Waters’s blessing at this summer’s Green Feast, we will generate national and international attention for the work being done at The Ecology Center, which will include expanding our program designed to bring edible gardens to every school in Orange County and highlighting our Community Table Accord.”

The Ecology Center

The Ecology Center, photo by Scott Sporleder

THE GROW YOUR OWN! PROGRAM:
Grow Your Own! was created by The Ecology Center as a public education program to instill the knowledge and values we need to build a humane and sustainable future. Similar to the Edible Schoolyard Project, Grow Your Own! helps students become familiar with all aspects of the food cycle and integrates gardening into the core academic curriculum. Over the past four years, Grow Your Own! has engaged thousands of local students at dozens of schools to utilize edible gardens at their campuses. The program, which is grant-subsidized by the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, ensures fair and open access for all participants. Green Feast with Alice Waters in June 2016 will serve to promote the program and ignite its expansion through partnering with The Edible Schoolyard Project.

“Our goal has always been to use food traditions to teach, nurture, and empower the community,” continued Marks. “Alice Waters’s guidance and attention, along with our partnership with The Edible Schoolyard Project, will enable us to grow to reach thousands of impressionable young people in the coming years.”

ABOUT 2016 GREEN FEAST EVENTS:
Green Feast is a highly acclaimed farm-to-table fundraiser pioneered by the nonprofit organization, The Ecology Center. Since its inception in 2009, Green Feast has consistently sold out every year and is hailed as “one of America’s premiere farm-to-table events” by the Huffington Post. As a culinary expression of The Ecology Center’s mission, Green Feast is strongly committed to community building and sustainable agriculture. At the core of Green Feast is a network of sustainable food advocates composed of award-winning chefs, farmers, ranchers, fishermen, vintners, and food artisans working together with shared values to achieve a common cause. Through Green Feast, The Ecology Center raises vital funds to continue our work transforming the spaces where we learn, live, and work into vibrant, sustainable communities.

This year, The Ecology Center will be hosting two Green Feast dinners, one on June 18, 2016 with Alice Waters, renowned author, chef and founder of Edible Schoolyard Project and Chez Panisse, with a summer dinner prepared by Chez Panisse chefs. The second will be held on September 10, 2016 with the best regional chefs, from San Diego to Los Angeles, coming together to create an inspiring, sustainable feast.

GREEN FEAST TICKET INFORMATION:
Individual tickets for Green Feast with Alice Waters are available to The Ecology Center members for $500 per guest and can be purchased at http://theecologycenter.org/events/green-feast-with-alice-waters. Annual membership for The Ecology Center starts at $50 for a full year of benefits. For more information about The Ecology Center, membership and benefits, please visit TheEcologyCenter.org. All proceeds from Green Feast will be directly invested into The Ecology Center’s eco-educational programs and initiatives.

Sponsorship opportunities are available for Green Feast. Those interested may contact Vicki Marks at 949.294.6641 or vicki@theecologycenter.org.

ABOUT ALICE WATERS:
Alice Waters is a chef, author, and food activist, and founder and proprietor of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California. She has been a champion of local, sustainable agriculture for more than four decades. In 1995, she founded the Edible Schoolyard Project, which advocates for a free school lunch for all children and an edible education curriculum in every public school. She has been a Vice President of Slow Food International since 2002. She conceived and helped create the Yale Sustainable Food Project in 2003, and the Rome Sustainable Food Project at the American Academy in Rome in 2007. Her honors include her election as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in 2007; the Harvard Medical School’s Global Environmental Citizen Award, which she shared with Kofi Annan, in 2008; and her induction into the French Legion of Honor, in 2010; and in 2015 was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama, proving that the gathering at the table is a powerful means to social justice and positive change. Alice is the author of fifteen books, including New York Times bestsellers The Art of Simple Food I & II, The Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea.

ABOUT THE ECOLOGY CENTER:
The Ecology Center is a non-profit educational center that engages individuals, families, and students in workshops, events, field trips, interactive exhibits, and training courses that teach practical, environmental solutions at the household, workplace, and community levels. Visit TheEcologyCenter.org for more information.


Celebrity Cruises – Go Big, Better, BEST

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Travel

Celebrity Cruises – Go BIG, BETTER, BEST

Celebrity Cruises

‘PERK UP’ THE ALREADY PERFECT VACATION with Celebrity Cruises just-released offer “Go Big, Go Better, Go Best!” which saves passengers up to $1,035 per person.

This new deal provides great savings and value in addition to just-launched features that thrill-seeking millennial travelers are choosing from Celebrity Cruises, such as:

· Globally-Inspired Cuisine: With 12 distinctive restaurants featuring menus crafted by a Michelin-starred chef, Celebrity Cruises offers an unparalleled culinary experience. In fact, in 2015, Celebrity Cruises launched the world’s first permanent “World ClassTM Bar” onboard the Celebrity Eclipse, featuring luxurious drinks experiences created by World Class-certified mixologists. Additionally, Celebrity Cruises and Bravo Media have extended the popular “Top Chef at Sea” program through 2016.

· In-Depth Destination Experiences & New Ports: Nearly 300 sought-after worldwide destinations including the best of Europe, plus overnight stays in 53 must-see cities. Plus, the “Celebrity City Stay” vacation packages provide curated pre-cruise experiences available in 16 of the most intriguing and dynamic cities, including Abu Dhabi.

· Entertainment: Inspired by the latest trends in entertainment and the hottest global tickets, Celebrity Cruises unveiled an impressive array of 18 shows in 18 months – all produced in partnership with masterminds behind some of today’s biggest recording artists and awarding-winning theatrical and television productions.

· Sexy, Stylish, Spaces: Onboard interiors by creative architects and designers infuse Celebrity’s ships with a modern style that rivals any contemporary hotel, and the only cruise line to offer Apple retail outlets and Apple products in its business centers.

The Go Big, Go Better, Go Best vacation deal offers value-add options to “perk-up” an already perfect vacation by allowing passengers the ability to customize their trip. With Go Big, Go Better, Go Best, travelers can select additional perks to include when booking an ocean view stateroom or higher on more than 470 sailings departing October 2015 through April 2017.

Ocean View Stateroom

Ocean View Stateroom, Celebrity Cruises

When travelers purchase an ocean view stateroom on a participating cruise, they automatically book the “Go Big” package, allowing them to select one of four additional “perks.” Vacationers can choose their favorite “perks” from the following options – Classic Beverage Packages, unlimited internet, prepaid tips and $150 in onboard credit per person:

· Go Big: One perk included*

· Go Better: Two perks included*

· Go Best: All perks are included, and an upgrade to a Premium Beverage Package*

Valid for select four-night or longer sailings departing October 2015 through April 2017. With the Go Big, Go Better, Go Best pricing strategy, travelers can save as much as $1,000 on package amenities.

Celebrity Cruises

Bookings must be made through Celebrity Cruises via:
Phone: 1-888-283-6879
Online: www.celebritycruises.com/socal
Or with your Local Travel Agent
For more details, visit: CelebrityCruises.com
Blog: www.celebritycruisessocalblog.com
Twitter: @CelebritySoCal
#CelebrityCruisesSoCal


Festival Gourmet International Puerto Vallarta… World Class Cuisine

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Travel

Festival Gourmet International Puerto Vallarta… World Class Cuisine

Puerto Vallarta sunset
Puerto Vallarta sunset

Festival Gourmet International
20 Aniversario
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Villa Premier Resort and Spa Puerto Vallarta
Recently, I was recommended by The TASTE Awards to represent the USA as a Celebrity Chef Ambassador to the Festival Gourmet International in beautiful Puerto Vallarta. Although I knew Mexican cuisine was more than just guacamole, chips and salsa with a little shrimp, rice and beans thrown in, I had no idea the gastronomic experience I was about to embark on. Here, in beautiful Puerto Vallarta, renowned Chefs converge for 10 days of gastronomic excellence in one of the most beautiful regions of Mexico to enlighten gourmet enthusiasts with real gourmet cuisine from Mexico’s top chefs and their invited chefs from around the world.
Festival Gourmet International Grand Opening Gala
Each year, Puerto Vallarta is home to the Festival Gourmet International which was founded 20 years ago by three esteemed Chefs, Thierry Blouet, Heinz Reize, and Roland Menetrey who have now become the culinary “Tres Mosqueteras” (Three Musketeers) sharing “una ideologia” (one message)… “love and passion – the salt and pepper for good taste!”

Founding Chef Heinz Reize with guest chefs
Founding Chef Heinz Reize with guest chefs

Setting out to present the best cuisine in Mexico, this 10-day gastronomic celebration is a culinary immersion into top local restaurant and resort chefs who then invite noted chefs from around the world to join them in hosting Chef and Winemaker dinners which has grown beyond Puerto Vallarta to include Riviera Nayarit and Tepic resort destinations.
Festival Gourmet International party guests
For 20 years, food lovers and gourmands have flown in from all over the globe to experience some of the finest cuisines imaginable. Kicking off this year’s Festival was the Gourmet Village Grand Opening event in the expansive courtyard of The Westin Resort and Spa Puerto Vallarta. Patron Tequila tastings, Moet & Chandon, specialty cocktails, gourmet cheeses, and dishes from the chefs including foie gras from Rougie, grilled oysters on the half shell, duck confit, salt cured bass, and braised pork belly.
Natural Mexican Cheese
Salmon from Boca
Oysters on the half shell
Each day was followed by magical nights of food, wine, tequila, cocktails, live music and jazz at participating restaurants such as Café des Artistes, La Palapa, Cafe Trio,The River Cafe and more.
Live Music during Festival Gourmet International

Local resorts also hosted cooking shows, jazz, wine and cheese, and private receptions featured at Villa Premiere Hotel and Spa, Garza Blanca Preserve Resort and Spa, Hilton Puerto Vallarta, CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta, The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort among other noted resorts and spas.

Chef Ryan at La Palapa

La Palapa’s “Chef Invitado” (Guest Chef) Ryan Steyn graduated from the Swiss Institute of Hospitality and currently opened El Jardin de Adobe in Baja, California. Of his selections for Festival Gourmet International were Ceviche Negro (Black Ceviche) with squid ink, sea urchin and avocado meringue, Pulpo Asado (Grilled Octopus) with ginger avocado dressing, Atun A La Parrilla (Tuna Steak) which is seared tuna with salicornia and smoked heirloom tomatoes. For dessert, selections include Profiteroles with cream of tequila sauce, Pay De Coco Y Canela (Coconut and Cinnamon Pie) and Tropical Cheesecake with passion fruit sauce.

Black Ceviche from La Palapa
Black Ceviche from La Palapa

Tuna Steak from La Palapa
Dessert selections from La Palapa

Chef Jesus Gibaja is owner of Gibaja Gastronomia and is host of the television show, Gibaja Cuisine. As guest Chef at Villa Premiere Hotel and Spa Puerto Vallarta, Chef Jesus said, “it is a mistake that people think Mexican food has to be hot but no, this is not true.” Chef shared that everything in Mexican food is a trilogy of corn, chili, and beans… all kinds, all varieties. When asked about his cooking style, Chef Jesus remembered his father’s cantina in Mexico City. “I never knew,” he said, “my time spent in the cantina with my father would lead to a culinary career. My father was from Spain, so that has influenced my style as well.” On the menu during the Festival, Chef Jesus served a soup that featured banana and cumin, duck crepes, trio of tuna, and lobster cooked with pork fat.
Chocolate Torte

One evening’s festivities featured a Progressive Avant-Garde Dinner in which you dine your way from appetizer to dessert at different restaurants. One stop took us to meet Chefs Bernhard Guth and Ulf Henriksson of Café Trio welcomed Chef Kristoffer Andersson as their guest chef. Chef Kristoffer, from Sweden, pleased diners with a salmon dish featuring roasted pumpkin, pumpkin seeds and fennel. Curious as to how the chef owners, Bernhard and Ulf, came to open a restaurant in Puerto Vallarta all the way from Germany and Sweden, Chef Bernhard replied, “I came here to visit and never left!” Of course, there may be a woman behind that story.
Cafe Trio

Chef Bernhard from Trio
Chef Bernhard from Trio

Salmon with Roasted Pumpkin at Trio

At The River Café, Argentina native and guest chef, Chef Marco Gabriel Fulcheri prepared a Lamb Confit that was most probably the most decadent entrée I have ever eaten. I can’t say “tasted” because there was not a morsel left on my plate. If ever there was a culinary immersion, this was it.
Lamb Confit at The River Cafe

Our grande finale for the evening was certainly grande. Café des Artistes may very well be known as the number one restaurant in Puerto Vallarta and possibly all of Mexico. Owner, Chef Thierry Blouet admires “the inner and outer beauty of every detail” and “cooks for the senses” creating compilations of color, attractive aromas and provocative textures. Chef Thierry invited Chef Carlos Gaytan to join him for this year’s Festival. Chef Carlos is the first Mexican chef to get a Michelin Star and now is Chef-Owner of Du Mexique in Chicago. For dessert, the duo presented a burst of flavors in an array of dishes including a sweet Guacamole con Queso Cotija from El Tuito. Served in a mortar and pestle, this dessert guacamole featured fresh pomegranate and cinnamon sugar wafer crisps.
Guacamole con queso at Cafe des Artistes
Dessert bar at Cafe des Artistes

It is no surprise the Festival Gourmet International just celebrated its 20th Anniversary. What Chefs Thierry, Heinz and Roland created out of “love and passion” for good taste has become the premier event for good friends new and old to celebrate the love of food, exchange ideas and share talents in a gorgeous, relaxing “avant-garde touristic destination presenting the best cuisine in Mexico” and beyond.

Chef Thierry Blouet
One of the founding chefs, Chef Thierry Blouet

Make your reservations now to attend the Festival Gourmet International 21, November 13 – 23, 2015… festivalgourmet.com

visitpuertovallarta.com

Chefs Carlos Ulloa Velazquez and Jose Ivan Loera Gonzalez of Hilton PV
Chefs Carlos Ulloa Velazquez and Jose Ivan Loera Gonzalez of Hilton PV