22 May A Dinner Under The Stars at Larner Vineyards with Reality Star Chef Vanessa Craig
Are you a Food Network Junkie? If so, you probably saw the new culinary competition All-Star Academy in which ten home cooks across the country were paired with Food Network famous chefs. If not, here’s a quick update. After eight episodes, it came down to two finalists and Santa Barbara local Vanessa Craig was one of them. Paired with Chef Michael Symon, she was energetic, spunky and lots of fun to watch. Sadly she didn’t win the final prize but 2nd place isn’t shabby!
After the national exposure and now that the show is over, Vanessa is back home in Santa Barbara. Her passion is to share her love for food and her love of Santa Barbara and is now a private chef and caterer with her newly launched business Vanessa Loves Food.
In perfect timing with her return to Santa Barbara, Larner Winery hosted their very first estate wine dinner and featured Vanessa Craig. I was one of the lucky ones, along with a group of 20 others, that was invited to dine under the stars at the Tuscan-inspired Larner home. As we sat outside, under the stars at a long table filled with great company, amazing wines and delicious food, it felt like we had been transported to Italy.
The evening started with tray-passed hors d’oeuvres. Santa Barbara ceviche, made with freshly caught Santa Barbara grouper paired beautifully with the fresh and bright 2014 Malvasia Bianca. The marinated strawberry & goat cheese crostini, a balance of sweet and creamy, were in perfect harmony with the 2014 Rosé made with Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.
As the sun started to set, we moved to the long table and were seated for dinner. As each course came out, both Michael and Vanessa would stand up and present the dish and wine pairing.
The first course was a Sweet Corn Fritter with Spice-Rubbed Chicken. A light dish, it was perfectly paired with the bright, floral and acidic Larner 2013 Viognier.