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Ahwahnee Hotel Chefs' Holidays 2013 Feature Hungry Cat and Cakebread

January 9, 2013 at 3:36 PM | by | ()

Here's the latest happening in the luxury hotel world as told by Just Luxe's own Lena Katz. Got a question about luxury hotels and where to stay? Send it in and we'll have Lena answer it.

For those of you who aren’t National Parks-savvy, we must formally announce that January is a Big Deal, event-wise, for the West Coast’s biggest NPS hotel name. Northern California's famous Yosemite National Park, and in specific the iconic Ahwahnee Hotel on the Yosemite Valley floor, has been drawing ever-bigger crowds and marquee-name chefs with its annual Yosemite’s Chefs' Holidays series, which runs for eight sessions in 2013. JustLuxe.com got a peek at the first session, which ran January 6-8, and there are seven more to go including the finale January 30-31. Look for the complete schedule on the Ahwahnee page.

The Ahwahnee, for those not familiar, was finished in 1927, and is a masterpiece of grandiose traditional Arts & Crafts architecture, with some Native American elements, plus vast sweeping interior lines that reflect the vast mountain outside. It's a Historic Hotel of America, and management company Delaware North has taken every measure to preserve that "You just stepped back 90 years in time" feeling. In the wintertime, this translates to traditional recreation activities like the Curry Village Ice Rink (opened November in 2012) and guided full moon snowshoe walks (starting January 23rd in 2013--rates around $415 per night).

We, however, prefer the newer tradition of Chefs' Holidays, in which chefs and winemakers and foodies from coast to coast get cozy and chatty, sipping all kinds of wine and whipping up delicious morsels and enjoying those chilly wintertime Glacier Point views through the window.

No matter what big-city California or NYC chefs show up to this series – and in 2013, the list includes David Lentz of Hungry Cat in Santa Monica/Hollywood (Demonstrator, January 20-22 session) and Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto in Manhattan (Visiting Chef, January 30-31 session) – we will always drop the name of Mark Estee of Reno, NV because he is a) hunky, b) a neighbor of Yosemite, and c) good friends with Ahwahnee executive chef Percy Whatley, who’s been the head food guy and a familiar face around Chefs’ Holiday for 15 years.

This time around, Mark’s promoting his “whole hog” restaurant Campo, but rest assured, his January 16-17 headline appearance will not just be about the latest new venture. This guy’s been a champion of farm-to-table in the Nor-Cal for many years, and his followers are many. So if you’re thinking about dropping in on a session, his is a good bet.

Elsewhere on the calendar, we’re getting super-duper amped up when we look at January 23-24, thanks to the addition of surprise guest Doug Welsh, Master Roaster at Peet’s Coffee. In case you aren’t from the Bay Area, we’ll just tell you that Peet’s is responsible for the jitters, shakes, hyper-productivity and 3AM insomnia of 85% of the San Francisco Bay Area. (Thanks, Doug. We once lived in SF – we’ll be there at 6AM on the 23rd to talk to you about instigating our dangerous downhill addiction to 16-ounce energy drinks and espresso brownies.)

Also, sesh 7 (January 27-29) brings Laurence Jossel of nopa/nopalita in SF; while sesh 6 (January 23-24) is when foodies will hail to LA culinary royalty Suzanne Goin of Lucques, A.O.C. and Hungry Cat. We’re not sure if the woman eats, but damned if she can’t cook.

Get more winter travel ideas at JustLuxe.com.

[Photo: Ahwahnee Hotel]

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