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edible Monterey Bay Summer 2015

He also hopes to help San Benito County’s effort to develop its economy by promoting tourism based on its food, wine and agricultural offerings. “I want to give back. I want to do what people did for me when I was younger. I want to inspire the next generation who are eager to learn. I want to create a place where people come to be a part of something.” So the chef now runs Fisher’s Catering, an elite catering company serving Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties. And as of press time, he was preparing to open a new commercial kitchen in a carriage house at DeRose Vineyards, with the intent of offering fresh, seasonal, Mediterranean-style prepared foods to be enjoyed on the winery’s patio or taken out for picnics along the wine trail. Among the foods that he’s planning to serve are olive tapenades, his signature hummus, vegetable dips made with seasonal produce like eggplant and zucchini, and panini sandwiches made with the artisanal breads of Hollister’s Suncoast Organic Farm and Heavenly Bakery. There are two natural springs on the winery’s hillside, and Fisher hopes to prepare his food with produce grown from an on-site, fully sustainable vegetable and herb garden, as well as from SBC’s numerous local organic growers. “My ultimate goal is to buy only salt outside of San Benito County,” Fisher says. Pop-ups at Popelouchum Never short on ambitious, exciting projects, Randall Grahm’s plan for dining at his San Juan Bautista ranch and vineyard, Popelouchum, is a farm-to-table program on steroids—a weekend pop-up restaurant inspired by both the long, farm-side table of Outstanding in the Field and the educational component of Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns in upstate New York—and operate it Friday through Sunday during the summer months. This isn’t exactly virgin territory for Grahm, as Bonny Doon has held special farm dinners, such as its annual Day of the Doon events, at Popelouchum. “The times when we’ve done dinners out there have been incredibly special—people have just gone crazy in the extreme. They just don’t want to leave,” Grahm says. “I think it just connects people in a visceral, deep way.” But creating an outdoor summer weekend pop-up restaurant is a first. And for that, Grahm is working with the vineyard’s landscape architects to create an entirely new hospitality and education area next to the biodynamic row crops that will feed the diners. Grahm’s overall intention for the ranch is a polyculture model of sustainability, and the centerpiece of the site will be a pond that will catch rainwater to irrigate the vegetables. Also in the works is the planting of a natural windbreak and construction of a large permanent table, a wood-burning oven and restrooms. Grahm deeply enjoyed running the Cellar Door (later renamed Le Cigare Volant), which served produce grown at Popelouchum to rave reviews, and says he’s excited to introduce his chef friends to the estate. It’s not clear yet if the series will have one chef or a rotating roster. The full-fledged, weekend-long series will not begin until next year, but pending progress on the new hospitality area, Grahm is aiming to hold multiple fundraising events at Popelouchum this fall. The pop-up restaurant will most certainly appeal to adventurous, discerning diners who want to learn more about the region and have a greater connection to where their food and wine come from. So, like Fisher, Grahm sees his dining project as something with a great potential to serve the community. “These are the kinds of visitors that San Benito would like to attract,” he says. —CM and SW www.ediblemontereybay.com 51


edible Monterey Bay Summer 2015
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