Revel in the flavors of the ultimate foodie city as San Francisco’s premier chefs—many of them movers and shakers in the sustainability movement—strut their stuff at this festival in the Golden Gate Recreation Area.
This August event has garnered its reputation not by bringing in outside global talent, but by keeping the focus very close to home. “We invite food and drink enthusiasts to connect directly with top local chefs and bartenders, and get a taste of what makes San Francisco a top-rated food city,” says Gwyneth Borden, executive director of the event’s sponsor, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. That means farmers, winemakers, distillers, artisanal food purveyors, and other culinary world leaders all converge to share their innovations and ideas—and you get to sample the results.
“Attendees are surprised by the accessibility to Bay Area chefs and bartenders, who are actually on-site to hand out bites and interact on an intimate level,” says Borden. “There is such a plethora of local talent and trendsetters in one place, it creates an infectious energy.”
The weekend kicks off with the Taco Knockdown, a friendly competition pitting local chefs against one another using tortilla as their canvas. The rest of the weekend revolves around four Grand Tasting events that offer selections from more than 160 restaurants and 70 purveyors of wine, beer, and spirits. The Bay Bar at each tasting will showcase a rotating sampling of the area’s cocktail bars, such as Hard Water, Prizefighter, and Whitechapel. One elixir is offered regularly during the 2016 tastings: the beloved Irish Coffee from Buena Vista Café, a Fisherman’s Wharf mainstay for decades. In keeping with that theme, the last day’s event, the Legacy Tasting, celebrates other longtime San Francisco restaurants, like Scoma’s, Sutro’s at the Cliff House, Tosca, and Goat Hill Pizza.
Nibble on sushi and pizza, and sip local wine and cocktails—all literally handed to you by the Bay Area’s great chefs and bartenders.
On the festival’s main stage, you can watch chefs and bartenders give cooking demos and talks—perhaps on pairing Italian food with beer, or wine topics like “Que Syrah Syrah.” For 2016, featured chefs include Victoriano Lopez of La Mar Cebichería Peruana, Valentina Guolo-Migotto from Napa Valley’s Ca’ Momi, and Roman Petry of Japanese steakhouse Roka Akor. To cleanse your palate between activities, you can wander into the outdoor Backyard Bites area, which offers both lawn games and the San Francisco Brewers Guild Craft Beer Bar.
Insider Tip: Each general admission ticket gets you entry into one day’s worth of tastings or the Taco Knockdown. VIP tickets grant you early access to tastings, as well as entry into special lounges. All tickets go up in price by about $10 a month before the event.