Part walking tour and part chef-designed community meal, this inaugural moving dinner party provides a sneak peek at three eateries featured at Palm Desert Food & Wine 2020: Tommy Bahama, Il Corso Palm Desert, and AC3 at Hotel Paseo.
“We thought it would be fun to create a progressive dinner that showcases the restaurants on the street in a fun and unique way,” says Kristy Kneiding of Desert Tasty Tours, who worked with El Paseo Shopping District to design the culinary walking tour. “It’s an added bonus that it’s benefiting such a worthy organization.”
Three groups, three restaurants, three courses
Here’s how it works: All Taste of El Paseo participants will enjoy a three course meal —appetizer, entree and dessert — with each course served at a different restaurant. (Wine pairings accompany the first two courses, and coffee comes with the third.)
But what exactly is on the menu and where the evening begins won’t be revealed until just before the event. Diners will be separated into three groups, and each will start their meal at a different location. A guide will lead each group on the short walk between destinations.
“It’s like a round-robin of eating,” Kneiding says. “It’s all a surprise — what you eat and where you’re going to be eating it — so that’s part of the fun.”
Some of the chef-designed creations will include dishes not typically available, and each will offer vegetarian options, she says.
A night of discovery
Each location independently developed its own three-course menu for the evening, which is sure to maximize the culinary diversity of the experience, says Anthony Nespoli, general manager at Il Corso Palm Desert.
“It’s so much more spontaneous and more of a surprise than if the restaurants had worked together,” he says.
He and chef Mario Marfia will focus on dishes that have proven to be house favorites over Il Corso’s six-year history. But they have no idea what will be on offer at Tommy Bahama or AC3.
Nespoli said he’s excited about the moving-dinner format, both because of the array of flavors it will incorporate and the social connections it will foster.
“With this kind of intimate group, you can linger and share stories and exchange numbers,” he says. “That’s what’s fun about the smaller events and group activities: it gives people a chance to make new friends where they normally wouldn’t have the opportunity.”
Kneiding, who typically coordinates tasting lunches through her company, agrees that the social element is part of what makes a progressive meal so special.
Il Corso in Palm Desert developed its own three-course menu for Taste of El Paseo.
“It’s always interesting to bring people together who maybe didn’t sign up for dinner together,” she says. “You meet new people, dine with them and share this experience.”
Tickets are $150 and include the three-course meal, two glasses of wine, gratuities and a donation to the nonprofit Desert Cancer Foundation, which provides financial support for screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer and related diseases to residents of Coachella Valley and surrounding communities.
The price also includes bragging rights — Taste of El Paseo diners will be the first to participate in what could become an annual event, and they’ll be well-versed in some of the featured flavors of the area’s premier gastronomic celebration, Palm Desert Food & Wine 2020, months ahead of its March dates.
For tickets, visit palmdesertfoodandwine.com.