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Central Coast Wine Classic Featured Chefs

Thursday, July 12

5 PM — Dinner at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, featuring the culinary artistry of Central Coast Chefs, Laurent Grangien of Bistro Laurent in Paso Robles, Kurt Grasing from Grasing's in Carmel, Michael Hutchings from Michael's Catering in Santa Barbara, Ian McPhee of McPhee's Grill in Templeton, Frank Ostini from The Hitching Post in Buellton and James Sly from Sly's in Carpinteria, coordinated by Chef James Sly's Team, six courses with matching Wines from Vintner Dignitaries

Friday, July 13

7 PM to 10PM — VIP Outdoor Winery Dinner Dance at the Avila Beach Golf Resort, hosted by special Wineries from San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County and the Napa Valley, the Reception featuring the wines of Ancient Peaks, Center of Effort and Sinor-LaVallee, with Dinner featuring the Cuisine of Chef Meghan Loring

Saturday, July 14

Noon to 5 PM — Rare & Fine Wine & Lifestyle Live Auction, Silent Auction and Luncheon, featuring the Eclectic Cuisine of Chef Rick Manson of the upcoming Far Western Tavern in Old Orcutt All Auction activities are at the Official Host Auction Venue, the Avila Beach Golf Resort.

Chef Bios

Chef Laurent Grangien, Bistro Laurent
Paso Robles, California

It is a great treat for us to once again have a number of extraordinary chefs from our Wine Classic Chef Family gathering to collaborate on the Annual Dinner at Hearst Castle. One of these is the gracious and professional Laurent Grangien, who is a long-time substantive Wine Classic supporter and who has been a featured chef at the Dinner at Hearst Castle on several occasions over the years.

First-Class Chef Laurent Grangien began his remarkable career in France and then, for all of us who enjoy first-class cuisine, brought his expertise to California, first to Los Angeles, then to the Central Coast. French-born Laurent worked in the kitchens of the St. James, in Bordeaux France, Chateau de la Chevre d’or in Eze France, and Michel Guerard in Eugenie les bains, France. Moving to Paris he became the Head Chef of Michel Rostang and a partner and Chef at Bistro d’a Cote. He received the opportunity to work in California at a newly opened Fennel in Santa Monica.

While working in California, Laurent fell in love with idea of creating a bistro in the Central Coast of California. The natural beauty and ability to use local wines with local ingredients, Paso Robles became the only choice. After, eleven years of owning and operating the Bistro Laurent, he continues to offer a la carte offerings as well a four or five course tasting menu changing weekly.

Paraphrasing the renowned Gayot publications regarding fine cuisine world-wide, Laurent set a new standard for fine dining on the Central Coast when he opened his Paso Robles restaurant in the mid-1990s, and Bistro Laurent is still a go-to favorite for all occasions. Sophisticated diners traveling through the local wine country head there for epicurean treats such as a crispy tart of sweetbreads and local goat cheese, a feuillete of lobster with baby carrots, or venison osso buco. You can opt for the four- or five-course tasting menu or order classic dishes such as hearty French onion soup, a delicate smoked salmon tart with crème fraîche, or crispy crab risotto off of the Bistro’s regular menu. Desserts celebrate the seasons, such as berries crème brûlée. The extensive wine list has both local and international labels, with about a dozen available by the glass. The staff is friendly and the overall ambience is warm and welcoming.

Bistro Laurent has also received high marks from customers who were so impressed that they shared their opinions on-line. One of those experiences is described as follows: “I was here with a large group to celebrate a friend’s birthday the night after we all dined at Il Cortile. Our group was seated outside for a four course dinner and wine pairing. The chef-selected menu was excellent, and consideration was made for those with food allergies and aversions. Throughout the meal service was impeccable, with fresh silverware and stemware arriving for each course. The meal itself was stunning. Each course was creative, delicious and beautifully presented. The sauces were wonderful, and everything was cooked and seasoned perfectly. The wines served with each course complemented them wonderfully. Although this isn’t a review of a typical meal at Bistro Laurent, I trust that they deliver comparable service and food to all of their guests. This meal was a huge treat, and one that I won’t soon forget. Everyone in our party was impressed by the food, wine and quality of service, with several of us saying it was one of the best meals of our lives.”

We trust that Laurent’s courses during this year’s Dinner at Hearst Castle will make you feel the same overwhelming enthusiasm.

Chef Kurt Grasing, Grasing’s
Carmel, California

We welcome one of our favorite Central Coast chefs who has traveled from Carmel to join his San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County chef friends to present this year’s Dinner at Hearst Castle.

Chef Kurt Grasing has worked in some of the finest restaurants in the world. His apprenticeship began at the Clift Hotel in San Francisco, after which he refined his craft at Narsai’s in Berkeley, first as a saucier and then as chef. Afterward he worked at the Pierre Hotel in New York as Executive Sous Chef. In the years that followed he was at the three-star La Gavroche in London and Four Seasons in Boston, then in 1986 left to open 231 Ellsworth in San Mateo which was soon considered one of the top restaurants in California.

In March of 1998 Kurt opened the door to his namesake restaurant: Grasing’s. In an impressive first year it received enthusiastic reviews and was voted Best New Restaurant and Best Chef by the readers of Adventures in Dining Magazine. Grasings has been featured in Bon Appétit Magazine’s Best of the Year issue in 2004, and was awarded Carmel Business Association’s Business of the Year award that same year. A couple of years back, Carmel Magazine proclaimed Grasing’s the Critic’s Choice. More recently, Grasing’s was awarded Carmel Business Association’s Restaurant of the Year as well as a Celebrated Chef of the Year Award from the American Culinary Federation – Monterey Chapter, in 2007, a truly remarkable array of accolades indeed.

As a restaurant with a most impressive contemporary menu, it offers the finest coastal cuisine paired with a Wine Spectator awarding winning wine list featuring the best California wines. Grasing’s has honored by Wine Spectator for “having one of the most outstanding restaurant wine lists in the world”, bestowing the Best of Award of Excellence for ten consecutive years!

In November of 2010, Kurt revamped Grasing’s by constructing a new bar and lounge along with a whole restaurant make-over. The new warm hues and contemporary décor in the restaurant and bar give Grasing’s an even more inviting atmosphere, giving it a whole new look with the same great food and first-rate service to which its guests guests are accustomed.

We know that you will be fully impressed with and edified by Kurt Grasing’s culinary artistry during this year’s Dinner at Hearst Castle, and we encourage you to visit his restaurant in Carmel for a complete “Kurt Grasing Dining Experience.”

Chef Michael Hutchings, Michael’s Catering
Santa Barbara, California

Our dear friend, Chef Michael Hutchings, has been an integral part of the Central Coast Wine Classic since 1992, coordinating and presenting the Vintage Dinner, as well as an integral part of the Dinner at Hearst Castle for well over ten years, always presenting the hors d’oeuvres for the Champagne reception and this year a main course as well. His creations have always been uniformly appropriate and wonderful. We know that you will find them to be so.

Michael is a chef who has paid his dues. Like many other American chefs, he took a job in a restaurant to work his way through college. An accomplished flutist, he planned a musical career. But in the kitchen of Disneyland at the fabled private Club 33, he was taught by the Black Hat Master Chef Rudolph Stoy, and his priorities changed. Michael Hutchings eventually became executive chef of Club 33, then worked under several Los Angeles chefs including James Sly at La Serre (now the owner of Sly’s in Carpinteria), and Jean Grodin, executive chef of L’Orangerie, Los Angeles.

The chef/owner of L’Ermitage, Jean Bertranou, suggested Michael Hutchings go to London to work at Le Gavroche under the Roux Brothers, so in 1978, Michael Hutchings, along with his wife and eight month old child, and modest savings, went to London to work at Le Gavroche. The Roux brothers were so impressed with his seriousness and ability that after only a few months they promoted him to sous-chef and told him that when he was ready for a restaurant in the United States they would back him financially in a partnership. Three years later, following brief stages in the kitchens of Alain Chapel, the Troisgros brothers and Gaston Lenotre, he was ready.

The result was Michael’s Waterside in Santa Barbara. During ten years of operation, Michael’s Waterside was recognized as a leader in contemporary California-French cuisine. After selling the Waterside in 1993, Chef Michael Hutchings hung his toque at the Santa Barbara Polo Club, NationsBank executive dining room, the Tower Club in Charlotte, Kaiser Grill and St. James in Palm Springs. Now, Chef Michael oversees a food consulting and catering service business in Santa Barbara, California.

Some of the highlights of Michael’s career follow:

  • Journeyman in Europe with Albert Roux of Le Gavroche Two Star Michelin
  • Apprenticed in France with Gastone Lenotre, Alain Chapel, Troisgros, Two & Three Star Michelin
  • Michael’s Waterside listings in Mobile Guide, AAA Guide, Zagat Guide, Gault Millaut
  • Travel Holiday Award 1985 to 1992, award discontinued
  • Distinguished Restaurant of North America Award 1993
  • Press credits with Time Magazine, Gourmet Magazine, Bon Appetit, Chocolatiere and others
  • Guest Chef at Beard House in New York 1986 and 1990
  • Guest Chef at Ahwanee Hotel in Yosemite National Park
  • Special Event Coordinator for KCBX public radio at Hearst Castle Historical Monument
  • Chef Coordinator for Central Coast Wine Auction 1992-1997, dinner for 800 guests
  • Guest Chef at “Merci Julia” event celebrating Julia’s 80 birthday in 1992
  • Appeared on “Diner at Julia’s” video magazine with Julia Child
  • Charitable fund raising for Red Cross, United Way, Cancer Society, Juvenile Diabetics
  • Cooking video on CNN, NBC, and in France, Germany and Japan
  • Julia Child’s 40th Anniversary on PBS Beef Bourguignonne event, 2003
  • Continuing Guest Chef Central Coast Wine Classic Dinner at Hearst Castle

Thank you, Michael, for your continuing substantive role in our special Wine Classic culinary presentations. It is always a pleasure to have your good energy and expertise as part of our culinary proceedings.

Chef Maegen Loring, neon carrot
San Luis Obispo, California

Chef Maegen Loring has become a San Luis Obispo County icon in the culinary world, as her fine dining establishments and her catering business have always received rave reviews throughout her career. With a keen palate, extensive knowledge of food, accomplished technical skills and a passion for food Maegen is one of those rare people who are what they do. Her life experiences have always, in one way or another, been about food. Every creation from her kitchen is unique, flavorful and exactly what it should be.

Maegen’s cooking career began at an early age. In first grade her trusting mother, an artist, would give instructions for the meal that had been planned for the evening dinner. With her mother watching she would go to it. An avid reader at a young age, cook books were soon a part of her bedroom library. With freedom to experiment and the appropriate reading material, her skills and sensibilities improved. With experience, knowledge and her mother’s trust, she was soon developing her own menus for the family meals.

For her high school years, Maegen moved to Canada to live with her father, a math professor. There her cooking skills and knowledge continued to grow under new influences. In her mother's house cooking was guided by creativity—food in the pantry and spontaneity. In her father's house the cooking was planned and often prepared by the book. Complex recipes were consulted; shopping lists were prepared, and procedures were followed as prescribed. With her father, Maegen learned the importance of cooking technique and procedures. She tackled each new recipe with as much vigor and joy for the disciplined approach as she did for the creative approach at her mother’s house.

After finishing high school Maegen was ready for the world of restaurants. Working for chefs she respected, she was able to further improve her technical skills and knowledge in ways that only come from hands on experience while working with a kitchen full of talented and knowledgeable professionals.

Not content to spend all of her time in the kitchen, Maegen’s adventurous nature has often taken her out of the kitchen and around the world. Whether traveling with her grandparents in Indonesia or her husband in Europe, her experience of the country is centered on her experience of the food. These experiences come back with her to the kitchen and are integrated in restaurant and catering menus.

Maegen has discovered the one constant from culture to culture which has become her mantra—“what grows together, goes together." This is her personal mantra, and it's reflected in her kitchen and at the table. She was early to embrace the farmers and their produce at local outdoor markets and to make their foods of the seasons her own. This has become a norm on the Central Coast but Maegen was among the first to actively promote the concept among her peers and with her clientele. She has further developed the concept with wine and food pairings, making her a favorite among wine makers and oenophiles alike.

Her consistently high standards are reflected in the enterprises she has undertaken: Maegen Loring Catering has become the standard for successful catered events; the Park Restaurant, her first restaurant, enjoyed a reputation as one of the best restaurants between San Francisco and Los Angeles and the neon carrot (lower case part of the nomenclature), her current restaurant, continues her reputation, this time in a casual dining environment with the flair of a big city diner.

And her catering continues to be remarkable, as those of you who will have the thorough edification offered during the Friday evening Dinner-Dance will discover to your delight. Delight in the Venue, the Music, the Companionship and the Wine, thoroughly, appropriately and expertly presented in the Culinary Artistry and Aura of Chef Maegen Loring!

Chef Rick Manson, Far Western Tavern
Old Orcutt, California

The Up-Tempo American cooking prepared by one of California Central Coast’s premier chefs, Rick Manson, a long-time friend of the Wine Classic and the community of Avila Beach (At Archie McLaren’s behest, Rick was the Chef for the array of world-class percussionists who were a part of the transcendent Avila Drum Day Healing Percussion Festival in the 1990s!) is a blend of Georgia low country, southern Louisiana, Southwest, and Southern California influences, seasoned with a hint of rhythm and blues, a splash of color, and a touch of irreverence. He is now the culinary leader of the rejuvenation of Far Western Tavern, the iconic restaurant that was a mainstay of Guadalupe food and fun for decades.

Chef Rick began earning critical acclaim during his 10 year tenure as executive chef of the King & Prince Hotel on historic St. Simons Island, Georgia. Chef Rick’s Ultimately Fine Foods in Santa Maria, his highly popular restaurant that he closed this past year so that he could concentrate on the Far Western Tavern, consistently earned the “Best Restaurant in Santa Maria” award from the Santa Maria Sun. Central Coast Magazine says “…thank goodness for something different and intriguing!” Jim Clendenen, of Au Bon Climat Winery in Santa Maria, has said of Rick: “Some people are born into the hospitality industry.

Chef Rick’s demeanor, his receptiveness and his smile define that. He is an excellent chef, the consummate host and he always delivers a lagniappe (Cajun for something extra special), which transforms your experience with him into something memorable.’’ Rick was named the 2007 Central Coast Wine Classic’s Culinary Honoree by founder Archie McLaren. Selected for his “indefatigable support and enthusiasm in furthering culinary excellence on the Central Coast,” Archie has said of Rick, “The guy is a prince!”

Chef Rick can be seen struttin’ his stuffins’ every Friday evening at 7:00 pm on “Cooking Fresh with Chef Rick” on KCOY TV in Santa Maria.

We know you will be energized and edified by the richly rhythmic quality of Rick’s unique Far Western Tavern Central California cuisine during his array of Luncheon courses at the Twenty-Eighth Annual Central Coast Wine Classic Rare & Fine Wine & Lifestyle Auction.

Chef Ian McPhee, McPhee’s Grill
Templeton, California

Ian McPhee, a Culinary Icon in San Luis Obispo County for many years, was a Wine Classic Vintage Dinner Chef in 1987, 1988 and 1989, as well as a Hearst Castle Dinner Chef for the Wine Classic’s Twenty-Fifth Anniversary.

Remarkably, Ian was a self-trained Chef with a great intuition for the profession, as well as a great attitude, an unfailingly gracious professional. It is a real treat once again to enjoy for this year’s Dinner at Hearst Castle his renowned cuisine. By the way, Ian is quite unassuming, and the biography he provides is always, shall we say, abbreviated. As a consequence we decided to include an article by long-time Central Coast Wine Classic supporter and participant, food and wine writer, Kathy Marks Hardesty, that fully describes the special restaurant experience of McPhee’s Grill in Templeton, an iconic Central Coast Culinary destination.

From New Times Food Writer Kathy Marks Hardesty:

“Ever since I moved to SLO County in 1996, locals have told me how much they love Chef Ian McPhee. Their food love affair began with his first restaurant in Cambria named Ian’s, and his followers remained loyal when he relocated to Templeton as McPhee’s. With his popular restaurant an easy drive from Paso Robles wine country, locals competed with wine aficionados and tourists who filled every seat and bar stool in the house. They converged there to feast on beef, pork, fowl, or seafood, and wash down those generous meals with local wines chosen from the excellent wine list at McPhee’s. I’ve experienced great food and wine pairings at McPhee’s that seemed a match created in heaven’s kitchen.”

Well said, Kathy, and thank you, Ian, for being such a terrific fellow and terrific chef!

We know that you will be every bit as enthusiastic as Kathy when you enjoy Ian’s courses at this year’s Dinner at Hearst Castle, and we suggest that you visit McPhee’s Grill in Templeton, where Kathy’s complimentary remarks will be thoroughly corroborated.

Chef Frank Ostini, The Buellton Hitching Post Restaurant
Buellton, California

Attending and supporting the Central Coast Wine Classic virtually from its beginning, no individual has been more continuously supportive of the Central Coast Wine Classic than Frank Ostini. His donations to the Live Auction alone have over the years raised over one quarter of a million dollars for the event.

Frank is extraordinarily gracious, generous and gregarious when it comes to assisting others, and he does so at a very high level, as The Hitching Post and Hitching Post Wines are held in very high esteem by wine critics, collectors and gourmets alike. He has assisted with the Dinner at Hearst Castle for many years, including being a featured chef on a number of occasions.

Frank Ostini grew up in and around the Casmalia Hitching Post, his family’s steakhouse on the Central Coast of California since 1952. Specializing in traditional wood fire barbecue, Frank has expanded his menu to cook most anything over the embers at his Hitching Post II restaurant in Buellton, California.  With high acclaim from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Gourmet and Sunset magazines and enthusiastic support from Chefs Wolfgang Puck and Bobby Flay, Frank has become the regional spokesman for what is popularly known as “Santa Maria Style BBQ”, a feast that features meats grilled over a red oak fire.

Many years ago, Frank expanded his interest in fine wine by being the President of the now historic Central Coast Wine Society. Since 1984 Frank, with partner Gray Hartley, has also made Hitching Post Wines, specializing in Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir.  Frank has recently received widespread international attention since his Hitching Post II and Hitching Post Pinot Noirs were featured in the Academy Award-winning film Sideways. 

The winery has 800 barrels and produces about 15,000 cases a year. “When we started to make wine, I had one purpose,” says Frank. “To get good wine on my family restaurant’s table-wine that I produced. Doing the food and wine together is all I ever wanted, and it’s still all I really want to do”.

Frank Ostini lives near the restaurant in Buellton with wife, Jami and his two children, Gray and Gabriella. When not in the restaurant or working in the winery, Frank is out promoting “Santa Maria Style BBQ” and Santa Barbara County Wines at charity events across the country.

It is with extreme gratitude that we thank Frank for his many contributions to the Wine Classic, including presenting the Auction Luncheon and Vintage Dinner on a number of occasions, and we look forward, as will you no doubt, to Frank’s courses at this year’s Dinner at Hearst Castle. We know that you will be comprehensively edified by the cuisine, the beautiful wine and the dynamic good energy of Chef Frank Ostini and his Hitching Post team.

Chef James Sly, Sly's
Carpinteria, California

We have stated on many occasions that no one is more important to the Wine Classic’s culinary manifestation than James Sly, the year-after-year Chef-Coordinator for the Dinner at Hearst Castle. Over the years that James has been involved with the presentation of the Dinner, he has accommodated every conceivable style of fine cuisine, except thankfully perhaps, that of the likes of Ferran Adria. Regardless of the complexity, he has been unfailingly successful at making every one of the Dinners special. This year, as a featured chef, he will be presenting as well as coordinating, and we know that you will be quite edified by the quality of his cuisine.

James Sly and his wife, Ann, are now operating “Sly’s,” their eponymous new restaurant in the sleepy coastal town of Carpinteria, California. In keeping with the focus of James’ cuisine, “Sly’s” is a fine dining restaurant, featuring seafood, prime steaks and outstanding cocktails in a traditional approach. There’s an interesting twist in the wine selections, as the 2,000-bottle cellar features an equally balanced list of wines from California – and from France. The location is three blocks from the “World’s Safest Beach”, on Linden Avenue, in a 90-year old brick building. Sly’s would be a welcome addition to any culinary scene; the food, the service and the ambiance are absolutely exceptional.

Long a Santa Barbara Chef, James is proud to be a “dinosaur” of traditional, even old-fashioned cooking. James created Lucky’s in Montecito, and built it into the premiere steak house in the area during its first eight years. He departed from Lucky’s in June of 2007, hatched plans for Sly’s and is now headlong into his wonderful new fine dining restaurant with its eclectic menu.

James’ training is strictly classical, his attitude 100% California. After an apprenticeship in California, James began his formal training in Europe, at the Hôtel Ritz in Paris, the Hôtel de Paris in Monte Carlo, and continued working with Michel Guèrard at Règine’s in both Paris and New York.

James also spent several years working in private homes, cooking for among others, Her Imperial Highness, Princess Shams Pahlavi, the sister of the Shah of Iran in both Beverly Hills and in Cuernavaca, Mexico. James refined his craft at restaurants on Nantucket, in Washington, DC, and in Palm Springs before coming to Santa Barbara, where he spent four years as Chef for the El Encanto Hotel before pursuing catering, restaurant consulting, and serving as a private chef in Montecito.

More now than ever, the value of simplicity in cooking plays an important part in James Sly’s style. As a dinosaur, James’ approach to food features a strong classical base, frankness, and above all integrity. The cuisine is marked by both the use of top-quality ingredients - aged USDA prime steaks, fresh abalone, live Maine lobster and a slew of Farmer’s Market vegetables top the list - and more importantly, an intense respect for those ingredients. Sauces reflect James’ classic training, and bring a dimension to food that more simple approaches simply can’t compete with.

An entertaining teacher, James comfortably shares his wealth of knowledge and experience with students and his employees, and concentrates on the basics that make such a big difference in quality food and a quality restaurant experience. James has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Linguistics from California State University at Fullerton, is now reluctantly 59 years old, and is delighted to live, and work, in the sleepy beach town of Carpinteria, California.

We are so very fortunate that James Sly is a part of the Wine Classic family and that he is so exceedingly well organized and so dedicated to quality in both creation and execution. The Dinner at Hearst Castle is a visible manifestation of his expertise. All of us who are associated with the Central Coast Wine Classic and its vision and goals are deeply grateful to you, James.




Central Coast Wine Classic, PO Box 790, Avila Beach, California 93424
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