Chef Tables in the Vineyard at KJ TomatoFest 2012 include Fieri, Batali

Celeb chefs Guy Fieri and Mario Batali are among those who will be cooking at this star-studded dinner

All-star chefs converge for Chef Tables in The Vineyard on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012,  co-hosted by celebrity chefs Guy Fieri and Mario Batali. It’s a food-tastic fantasy league of talent that includes more than a dozen of Wine Country’s top talents cooking individual meals for each table. The event is part of a weekend-long celebration of tomatoes at Kendall Jackson Wine Center that includes the annual Tomatofest on Saturday, Sept. 15. 

“Everyone is bringing their A-game,” said K-J executive chef Justin Wangler, who has helped organize the menus and 22 chefs, along with the challenging logistics of having the winery’s kitchens undergoing extensive renovations. With more than a hundred varieties of heirloom tomatoes grown on the K-J property, chefs are taking inspiration from the varied flavors, textures and colors of the height-of-the-season fruits.

On the roster are Cyrus’ Douglas Keane, culinary eduator John Ash, Kendall-Jackson executive chef Justin Wangler, Dino Bugica of Diavola Pizzeria, Perry Hoffman of Napa’s Etoile, Jesse Mallgren of Madrona Manor, Josh Silvers of Petite Syrah, Jeff Mall of Zin, Adam Mali of Mandarin Oriental SF, Mark Stark of Stark’s Steakhouse, Dustin Valette of Dry Creek Kitchen, “Top Chef” star Casey Thompson and many others. Each chef cooks for a table; diners won’t find out which chef will be cooking for them until the night of the dinner.

Fieri’s and Batali’s menus are closely guarded secrets, revealed only at the dinner itself. But other chefs’ plans include dishes like a haute Caprese (mozzarella, basil and tomatoes) BLT salad from Zazu’s John Stewart, beefsteak tomato and beef steak carpaccio from Wangler and a caramelized tomato tart tatin from Mark Stark. Other dishes on the three-course menu include Zin’s shrimp and grits; grilled Monterey calamari with coconut, mint and lime green salad; uni pasta with tomato confit from Hana Japanese chef Ken Tominaga; and Wagyu beef, mung bean sprouts and tomato confit from Keane. Each course will be paired with K-J wines.

“Even with tomatoes being the common theme for this dinner, just how different all the chef’s styles and techniques are. A lot of chefs have requested to bring their own equipment, everything from liquid nitrogen, a grill named Big Red, several immersion circulators, to a Huli Huli roasting machine from Oahu,” Wangler said.

The event is a benefit for Fieri’s Cooking with Kids Foundation, which encourages kids to develop healthy eating habits to address childhood obesity and works to strengthen families through sharing quality time in the kitchen.

“Mario really understands all the components of cooking, and the impact it has on family and especially kids. I feel he sees the big picture, that everyone needs to know the life skills of cooking, and how empowering kids to cook can give them the confidence and self esteem they need to be successful in the future,” Fieri said.

Tickets range from $350 per person to $3,000 for VIP tables with Fieri and Batali. VIP diners at the celebrity chef tables will also be given a behind-the-scenes reception with Guy and Mario before dinner. TICKETS FOR THE DINNER INCLUDE ADMISSION TO THE HEIRLOOM TOMATO FESTIVAL, WHICH IS SOLD OUT TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC.

Both the dinner and the Heirloom Tomato Festival on Saturday will be held at the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center, 5700 Fulton Road, in Fulton, and guests must be at least 21 years of age to attend. Details and tickets online at or by calling (866) 287-9818.


13 thoughts on “Chef Tables in the Vineyard at KJ TomatoFest 2012 include Fieri, Batali

  1. Representing those who build businesses to do incredible things with their success… This event was an absolute homerun. The entire team of both celebrity Chefs and infamous Chefs “DONATED” the time, the flights, the hotels, the energy, and their Rolodex to give back. Period!

  2. Not sure how much any of the whiners raised to help kids learn how to cook wholesome and nutritious meals but the event raised more than $125,000. It was amazing to see do many people and chefs and community members workiing together for a common cause and to create a spectacular event showcasing the great culinary efforts of Sonoma county. I’d rather spend my energy finishing positive ways to show the world how great we can be rather than be bitter. Guy was an amazing host and cheerleader for us. Mario was funny and kind. Too bad people have to hate. It was an impressive event!!

    1. Correct Heather.

      I’ve been to many similar events around Sonoma, and this one was, simply put, amazing. This event DID support our local schools and much of the money raised will go right back to our local youth. In fact, there were no fewer than 50 local HS students, a dozen youth from WOW, and a dozen SRJC students behind the scenes helping with this event. If you’re here only to whine about Guy, you’ve completely missed the point. And a big hoo rah to Justin Wangler and the staff at KJ. Bravo y’all. Bravo.

  3. Wow, what a bunch of whiners and haters here. It’s obviously not for you who condemn people who have money, and can afford to attend these events, so SHUT UP and get a life!

  4. Rome fell after almost a 1000 years. Glutonly, orgies, feasts had become the norm rather than the occasional thing! Many of us see America going down the same route! We have schools failing, a standard of living in decline, a place where the people dont trust the governments or their leaders.

    And with the nation indecline we see such events as the one in this article. We will never learn! Romans lasted for 1000 years and yet America wont make it to 300!

    When is the next orgy?

  5. Anyone who would pay 3 grand to have a meal made for them by D-bag Fieri is legally retarded. I like how he tries to make himself look like he has ANYTHING in common with other REAL chefs. That is pretty much the funniest (and coincidentally lamest) proposal I have ever heard!!

    Yeah, it is a charity event and that is what is important, but it is still mind blowing that he thinks he can put himself on the same level as Batali and should command the same price tag. SO delusional!!
    His price point should be more around $10.95 for a meal prepared by him.

    1. Interesting, Captain. An ignoramus proving the point just made by Heather. Anyone who actually pays real attention to Guy Fieri knows that he specifically does NOT try to pass himself off as a “REAL” chef. Guy knows exactly what he is and doesn’t try to pretend otherwise. People who don’t know this are only proving more about themselves than they are about Guy. Perhaps this ignoramus thinks that Guy lobbied to be included “on the same level as Batali” rather than the more likely scenario that the organizers lobbied Guy to join them because he is recognizable. Interesting, Captain…

  6. The Interwebs are so enlightening. instead of seeing that this is a fundraiser with a whole host of incredible chefs working their butts off, we focus on being idiots. Classy.

    1. Heather, they are such idiots, they’re unable to see the rewards this event was meant to accomplish. If I could afford it, I’d be there not just for the cuisine, although delicious, but for the children it’s really meant for.

  7. God if only I could cook! Johnny garlic’s food stinks but hey I’m famous and there a bunch of diners who have poor taste buds. I lpve America! What other country can a no talent hack become rich and famous like me! Viva AMERICA!

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