Edible Monterey Bay


10653575_909418562420143_2822349530962650897_nMarch 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.