March 17, 2015 – If the massive white tent of Big Sur Food & Wine Festival’s Grand Public Tasting and the long, snaking line waiting to get into it in recent years looked a bit out of place in Big Sur’s pristine wilderness, the 7-year-old festival’s organizers would have to agree. And so this year, they’re ditching the Grand Tasting entirely.
“It doesn’t make sense,” said organizer Toby Rowland-Jones of the Grand Tasting. “It’s a little bit anachronistic and they’re really bloody expensive.” Rowland-Jones says out-sized wine and food events like the Grand Tasting diminish the experience of wine makers and guests alike—and they saddle promoters with high fees for permits, tent rental, insurance and other costs.
So this November 5–7, the plan is to preserve the rest of the weekend’s beloved events, like the Thursday night Gateway to Big Sur opening party, Friday night Wine & Swine dinner and Saturday Pinot Walkabout. The organizers will also add multiple small, intimate events that will offer a better chance for guests to meet the chefs and wine makers and learn about what they do.
“Our goal is to have some really spectacular private homes on the coast where we can put a small amount of people at each location and focus on the food and wine,” he added.
In 2014, BSF&W attracted between 800 and 1000 discrete guests from around the country and raised thousands of dollars for the Big Sur Community. Rowland-Jones hopes to bring in at least as many attendees this year—and give them a better experience than ever.
BSF&W’s decision to eliminate the biggest, blow-out style food and wine event from its lineup comes less than a year after the Monterey Bay Aquarium decided to do away with what had been its own over-the-top style headliner of its Cooking for Solutions celebration of sustainable seafood. Instead, the Aquarium plans to hold numerous, smaller events throughout the year and spread them out around the country.
SARAH WOOD—founding editor and publisher of Edible Monterey Bay—has had a life-long passion for food, cooking, people and our planet.
She planted her first organic garden and cared for her first chicken when she was in elementary school in a farming region of Upstate New York.
Wood spent the early part of her career based in Ottawa, Canada, working in international development and international education. After considering culinary school, she opted to pursue her loves for writing, learning about the world and helping make it a better place by obtaining a fellowship and an MA in Journalism from New York University.
While working for a daily newspaper in New Jersey, she wrote stories that helped farmers fend off development and won a state-wide public service award from the New Jersey Press Association for an investigative series of articles about a slumlord who had hoodwinked ratings agencies and investment banks into propping him up with some early commercial mortgage securitizations. The series led Wood to spend several years in financial journalism, most recently, as editor-in-chief of the leading magazine covering the U.S. hedge-fund industry.
Wood could not be happier to now be writing and editing articles about the Monterey Bay foodshed and the amazing people who help make it so vibrant and diverse. And, after spending much of her adult life gardening on fire escapes, she’s very glad to be planting in the ground again.
Wood lives with her husband, Rob Fisher, a fourth-generation Californian, and young daughter in Carmel Valley. Their favorite meal is a picnic dinner at Pt. Lobos State Reserve.