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Ten Lessons Learned and Tidbits Gleaned at the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival

The third year of the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival ended yesterday, and with it a thousand moments like golden twigs in the stream of life (!!!) dispersed into memory. Thankfully, I had a camera so some of those twigs—an inadvertent neg on Boulder, a pair of new boobs on the dance floor, Morimoto, Trotter and Fabio—I've caught on film (see the above slideshow).

Never have I been so close to so many tremendous chefs nor so many white people whose wealth is too great even for jealousy and instead inspires only awe. With over 18 usable life-like holes and 150 wineries, PeBe2010 was a party but a quiet one. This bar mitzvah was for the parents. Here are some lessons learned:  

1) Thomas Keller is a big golfer. “I golfed a 91 at Spanish Bay. They say, ‘If you golf under 80, you have no business. If you golf over 90, you have no business being on the golf course.” I had no idea what he meant but nodded. Nodding like you understand golf is something that I found useful at Pebble Beach.

2) Masaharu Morimoto is opening his Napa restaurant on July 9th. Check it.

3) No matter how fancy the dinner or rare the champagne, going to banquet-type dinners alone is sad for me. This is especially when your tablemates are elderly and one of them—the nice spry lady to your right—recently lost her husband and, for long periods during the meal—stares into space bereft. Related: It’s annoying when old people give you advice about when to have kids. [31? Come on now.]

4) Ming Tsai is a ham, for better and worse. At the Jacques Pepin dinner, he applauded Julia Child and addressing her apostrophically and then looked up and made everyone clap. Also: “Where I grew up in Ohio, there were no Chinese people. When we had people over, we were Chinatown.”[Laughter.] Now the downside: Tsai’s cooking, like a ham, overly salty, lacking in subtlety.

5) Michel Richard, of Citronelle, is the best grumpy Frenchman since Leon-Paul Fargue. At Jacques Pepin dinner, in heavy accent and with refreshing candor about his envy, "You look so good in television and someday my dream is to push you off that screen."

6) As per Dana Cowin-led Q&A: Wolfgang Puck’s favorite restaurant is Marea. Tyler Florence’s is Spruce. Paul Bartolotta loves Alinea, “not something I would ever do but the food is exciting fun and engaging.”

7) Hubert Keller looks like well-kempt Gandolf even up close.

8) Time’s Joel Stein has a really good looking wife.

9) Much less overt sponsorship at PeBe2010 than SoBe2010. No Blue Moon Burger Bash presented by Allen Brothers, hosted by Rachael Ray. No Burger Bash at all, in fact. As per founder, Dave Bernahl: “We’re not pay-to-play here.”

10) Speaking of which, things to look forward to at NYCWFF, according to Mr. Lee Schrager: “We’re doing a Taco & Tequila Party with Bobby Flay, a creative sandwich party—we do well when we stick to one thing like burgers or sweets. There’s going to be a gospel Sunday brunch with Paula Deen and a street cart party at the Eventi Hotel.”

· All Pebble Beach Coverage on Eater National [-ENA-]