p43 emb

edible Monterey Bay Winter 2016

www.ediblemontereybay.com 41 One hundred years ago, the Highlands Inn erupted from developer Frank Devendorf’s fierce admiration for the rugged setting. Situated on a pine-dotted cliff with panoramic views of Carmel to the north and Big Sur to the south, Devendorf’s creation showcased the craggy beauty of the area known as Carmel Highlands. A century later, renovations and a new, cutting-edge plant-forward menu reflect the Highlands’ continued appreciation of its history and location as well as a look ahead to where our food scene is moving. Although just a 10-minute drive from Carmel today, skeptics in Devendorf ’s time doubted the appeal of a resort that would be a full day’s ride into the wilderness—by horse and buggy—from the Monterey peninsula. Still, the developer persisted, carefully mapping out with his foreman roads and buildings that would exist in harmony with nature. Locally quarried granite featured prominently throughout the lodge when it opened in 1917, and the stone is still on view in the huge fireplaces that flank its newly remodeled lobby of what is now known as the Hyatt Carmel Highlands. MAKING A NAME From the Highlands’ earliest days, its food—including the bounty of fresh produce it could obtain from the immediate region—was an important part of what it offered. “e dining room is noted for its wonderful ocean views from large windows and its splendid meals, featuring fresh vegetables and fruits,” touts a 1919 brochure. Over the years, the dining room has indeed hosted countless splendid meals, most notably during the period it held the Masters of Food & Wine, an annual three-day extravaganza that the Highlands staged for 21 years, ending in 2007. (e series is now owned by the Hyatt Corp. and continues, but in locations around the world.) “It was intimate with a limited number of people,” says former Highlands general manager David Fink, who founded the Masters of Food & Wine series and is now CEO of the Mirabel Hotel & Restaurant Group, referring to what distinguished the event—and to what Mirabel is aiming to do with its own four-year-old GourmetFest. Fink added that at Masters of Food & Wine, the chefs showed an unprecedented camaraderie. “Chefs wanted to work with other chefs—behind the scenes and in the kitchen.” Local artist and chef Wendy Brodie, who now operates Art of Food Catering and hosts the Art of Food television program, worked both the front and the back of the house at the Masters and recalls the series as summoning “the best of the best,” she says. “e event attracted top winemakers from around the world. And the equally wonderful food was always inventive.” Culinary heavyweights Julia Child, Jacques Pépin, Alain Ducasse, omas Keller and Jean-Louis Palladin all cooked there, and Chad Minton, the Highlands’ current executive chef—who visited the Highlands to cook at the event long before he began working there in 2014—still has their handwritten recipes in his office. Jerry Regester, now executive chef at the Santa Lucia Preserve, was sous chef under executive chef Cal Stamenov at the Highlands Inn during the time it hosted the Masters of Food & Wine and remembers it being a special time and a magical place. “e Masters was a huge draw. I remember being in the kitchen at two or three in the morning, prepping for our course, when Jean- Louis Palladin walked around the corner. He put his cutting board down next to mine and got to work. en he kept trying to steal my porcini mushrooms. ere I was, this 22-year-old, telling a food icon to keep his hands off my stuff. It was so cool.” But it wasn’t all glitz and glamour, Regester says. “We just cooked. Whether it was for the Masters, for our regular customers or for the Caltrans crew that was stuck because the roads were washed out, we just cooked.” Historic photo courtesy Harrison Memorial Library, photo upper right by Camilla Mann. All others p. 40 and 41 by Michelle Magdalena


edible Monterey Bay Winter 2016
To see the actual publication please follow the link above