Food, wine and nature | SierraSun.com

Food, wine and nature

For the 32nd year in a row, the Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival brought foodies from near and far for three days of culinary excellence.

"Each year, I am blown away by the generosity, hard work and excitement that surrounds this truly remarkable and delicious event," said Amber Burke, events and communications manager for the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.

"Participants experienced inspiring outdoor adventures paired with industry leading wines, brews and spirits, making it an experience unique to the natural backdrop of North Lake Tahoe," she added.

More than 20 culinary events included wine and brew walks, hands-on learning seminars, and plenty of opportunities to taste food.

Three major competitions put chefs of all ages head-to-head in hopes of going home this year's champ.

The Grand Tasting & Culinary Competition challenged 19 chefs in six food and beverage categories.

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The gold judge's award for Best Food & Beverage Pairing went to Martis Camp.

As executive chef Steve Anderson of Northstar California stated ahead of the event, it's often times the People's Choice awards that are most highly regarded among the culinary artists.

Gold judges awards for People's Choice food went to Copper Lane Café, while the People's Choice beverage was awarded to DNA Brewing Co.

Returning champion and executive chef William Burns of Moody's Bistro, Bar & Beats won the Blazing Pans segment, cooking against chef Brynn Madden of Nourish Natural Foods. The two cooked against one another for 45 minutes in front of a live audience and needed to incorporate the secret ingredient — grapes — at the last second.

The Mountain Kids Cook-Off finalists included children ages 8 to 12, who shared the same stage as the pros during their battle for culinary excellence.

"This is our second year now, and we went from 18 teams down to two and this show was the final two teams competing on the big stage for the golden whisk," Anderson said.

Youth chefs Sofie Wasson, Sasha Penwarden and Laurel Anderson of "The Incredibles" won the final event using the secret ingredient, cinnamon, during their 30-minute cooking competition against another team of three young chefs.

Guests enjoyed all kinds of artisan food and drink-themed activities that focused on bringing the experience back to nature. Events including hiking to various sample stations, enjoying courses al fresco on Northstar's mountain, and a yoga class that got guests in touch with their inner zen before sending them off on a wine and beer tasting.

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at cwalker@sierrasun.com, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.