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edible Monterey Bay Winter 2016

www.ediblemontereybay.com 11 EDIBLE NOTABLES A CHEF FEEDS THE FIREFIGHTERS As the Soberanes Fire approached Carmel’s Santa Lucia Preserve, chef Jerry Regester kept the kitchen open BY PATRICE VECCHIONE PHOTOGRAPHY BY KEN PAYTON If the Soberanes Fire feels far away and a long time ago, look up at any number of the bare mountainsides where, just months ago, trees grew aplenty, and memories of the long-burning fire will return to you in an instant. It took until mid-October to contain the more than 130,000- acre fire that began in late July, and its mark is still striking. For Jerry Regester, executive chef for the Santa Lucia Preserve, the fire may be a part of his spiritual and culinary present tense for a long time to come. He’s one of those—many of them local chefs—who actually did something of value while I paced the floors, smelled the smoke and listened to the planes, feeling helpless. South of Carmel, back in the hills, sits Rancho San Carlos, land that for more than 1,500 years was home to the Rumsen tribes and eventually became a private ranch. Known now as the Santa Lucia Preserve, it’s largely protected save for the limited number of exclusive homes that dot its 20,000 acres. e preserve served an important function during the fire. Because it was situated between where the fire started in Garrapata State Park and Carmel Valley, fire crews were able to make defensible space there that helped prevent the fire from moving down into Carmel Valley where, if it had, many people and much property would have been in serious danger. Not only did Regester, who lives onsite, and others at the preserve smell the smoke, but flames were visible just over the hilltops. e fire was moving rapidly toward them from Garzas Creek. Seeing those flames made everybody nervous. As the fire grew, all but essential staff left the property. Most of the homeowners departed, too. Remembering the fire: from left, chef Jerry Regester, firefighter Joshua Terry and chief Michael Urquides in Regester’s kitchen garden. “I’m a chef. at’s my part of the puzzle. I wouldn’t have been able to sleep if I hadn’t been helping.”


edible Monterey Bay Winter 2016
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