A mix of vendors from the Coachella Valley, California, and beyond set up booths during the Grand Tastings. Guests wander the grounds at their own pace, enjoying samples and watching live chef demonstrations.
PHOTOGRAPH BY TIFFANY CLARK
For a true foodie attending the festival for the first time, arriving at Palm Desert Food & Wine smacks the senses with unadulterated rapture. You’ve heard that a variety of trailblazing restaurants and producers of fine libations will be doling out all sorts of treats, and chefs that you recognize from TV will be slinging their sauté pans in person, onstage. But what first-timers imagine the experience to be never comes close to the real thing.
It starts with the roar of fellow connoisseurs clinking glasses, chatting about the best morsels so far, and plotting their next toothsome stops. Then come the glorious scents of smoked meats, sautéed shallots, and every sweet and savory whiff between. To snap you out of this sensory daze, an usher greets you at the entrance with your very own tasting glass (for keeps). You stroll past vendors in the front area to get the lay of the land, and that’s when you realize just how epic this Grand Tasting is going to be. Let’s hope you came hungry.
A balanced Grand Tasting experience includes a healthy amount of walking and grazing — in the main tasting tent and out in the garden/marketplace area. Break up all the noshing with periodic interludes as you as you grab a seat for a master class with your favorite chef. (Don’t worry, they’ll feed you there, too.) Seek out the unfamiliar. Where else will you have access to this many unique flavors? Not to mention, the experts who crafted them. They’re eager to tell you all about how their products are sourced and made, and no, they don’t mind if you return swiftly for seconds. Of course, it’s imperative that you make the rounds to all corners of the event before doubling back for round two. Hear us when we say, it makes for a rather regrettable finish to reach your fill before you’ve explored the entire venue. The most delicious bite often surprises you at the very end.
Grand Tasting tickets are sold as single-day passes. On Saturday, opt for the Carte Blanche or Premier pass to gain access to additional VIP demonstrations held before regular ticketholders arrive. For a list of participating vendors, flip to page 31. For the latest event updates and to purchase your tickets, visit palmdesertfoodandwine.com.
10 a.m.–3 p.m.: Two exclusive demos feature Curtis Stone and Jamie Gwen. Get early access to tastings.
11 a.m.–3 p.m.: One exclusive demo features Jamie Gwen. Plus, get early access to tastings.
Noon to 3 p.m.: Enjoy an afternoon filled with food and beverage tastings and a variety of chef demos.
Noon to 3 p.m.: The fun isn’t over yet! Enjoy another afternoon filled with tastings and chef demonstrations.