By Lisa Dinsmore
So how did we get a Top Chef to basically "open" for the Garagiste Festival? Well, it started with friendship and solidified because of our love for Paso Robles. Being an oenophile and not a foodie, when my friend Jo dragged me to LudoBites 3.0 (her husband had to cancel) I had no idea who Chef Ludo was or what I was about to experience. That first night made me a fan. I ate things I would never have considered before, which opened my mind to the transformative power of food. When I was lucky enough to go again, I was hooked forever. Those meals made realize, like wine, there is a major difference when a master is working behind the scenes. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for - in the most delicious way. Over the following few years, my husband and I became friends with Ludo and his amazing wife Krissy. We've had the pleasure of eating at several LudoBites incarnations and the joy of turning other friends into converts.
We also saw all the hard work, passion and dedication it takes to make these pop-up runs successful. In between the madness, we shared stories over bottles of wine and bits of food. His always French. Ours always Paso. My husband and I fell in love with the town and its wines over a decade ago and have been spreading the word ever since. They, of course, had never heard of Paso. We weren't surprised. However, they were by the quality of the wines we brought that were from California, but not from Napa. Who knew, right? When we told them about the Festival, they were intrigued by the idea of the garagistes and impressed that we were able to sell out our first year. They understood both our passion for these wines and the challenges of trying to build something unique while keeping it interesting year after year.
The more we talked about Paso - we were always just coming back or planning on going - the more they wanted to see what the scene was all about. When the Garagiste team talked about expanding the schedule of the Festival, I suggested a multi-winemaker dinner to showcase the diversity and innovative nature of the garagiste wines. Ludo is all about continuing to learn, always expanding his repertoire with new techniques or ingredients. His spirit of constant experimentation and love of what he does regardless of how hard or outside of the usual rules, mirrors our winemakers experience and attitude. It would be a perfect fit. If only he was free. Knowing his extremely busy schedule, it was a long shot; however, I also knew they wanted to come to Paso and experience the place we've come to call our second home.
Fate smiled on us...and the planning for the dinner began. With it now just three weeks away, we are thrilled to be able to combine the magic of all Paso has to offer with the imagination and talent that Chef Ludo brings to the table.
Tickets for the dinner, which will take place on 11/8 at Thomas Hill Organics, go on sale tomorrow morning, Thursday, October 18th. Details will go out first to members of our mailing list. Only 60 seats available. For more details, visit our website. To sign-up, click here. Limited tickets for the Festival are still available.
Lisa Dinsmore is the Event Director for the Garagiste Festival. She is a devoted Paso wine lover, who's been visiting and writing about the region at The Daily Wine Dispatch for over a decade. She has also achieved the WSET Level 3 Award in Wine and Spirits.