By Jennie Tezak
What inspired the Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival?
It was pretty amazing; we had an aha moment. In 2007, it was the last year of the Masters of Food
and Wine festival. It had been going on for 21 years. It was amazing to see 21 years at Park Hyland
in Carmel. Then, with the advent of that disappearing and the Aspen Food and Wine classic basically
moving to Argentina, it was crazy to think here we were in the “Salad Bowl” of the United States,
and with grape growing regions from Napa to Santa Barbara, and with two culinary hubs—San Francisco
and Los Angeles—that we didn’t have a single food and wine festival. So we decided to create Pebble
Beach Food & Wine. We welcomed so many people and almost 100 celebrity chefs; all these amazing
individuals such as Thomas Keller. We were off to the races. The biggest year of the Masters was
650 people and we went from 650 to 4,000 in one year.
Why Pebble Beach as opposed to other Peninsula spots?
Pebble Beach is iconic. It’s one of the most beautiful strips of coastlines in the world, and as a
resort it is an amazing company with great culture. It has ample police who know how to handle
large scale events already: you’ve got the AT&T Pro-Am and the Concours d’ Elegance. There are so
many events that come through as it is, and with two beautiful hotel properties, there is space to
build. We were able to do so many things and create a really great home base. As we grow, we do
things outside of the forest: things in Monterey and Carmel, even Salinas. Pebble Beach couldn’t be
a better place to start. We made this vision come to life.
What was the series of major events leading up to it?
This great event that had gone on for 21 years decided to move to Argentina. My business partner,
the food and beverage director at the Highlands Inn, was running the Masters at the time. We made a
go of building things from the ground up. It didn’t make sense for California to not have a food
and wine festival.
How has the event grown and where does it plan to go from here?
There are 8,000 attendees. It’s double the size from the start. We’re focusing on great partnership
opportunities. It’s always been about quality not quantity for us. We’re working in amazing
partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and their Seafood Watch program. We bring that into
Pebble Beach and Los Angeles Food & Wine. We’re announcing an amazing partnership with the Ment’or
program here in the United States. We’ve got some amazing partnerships coming down the pipeline in
addition to all the crazy cool culinary programs that we change up every year. We’ve been able to
donate over a million dollars, and that’s something that we’re really
proud of. We impact a lot of really great charities with donations and auction items.