Battle of the Chefs at Autumn Food & Wine

Chef William Burns

Chef Will Burns’ culinary fusion combines his French-trained background with his love of California cuisine. As the executive chef at Moody’s Bistro, Bar & Beats, he has served up truffled deviled eggs, beef tartare appetizer and unique pizzas layered with farm-fresh vegetables and classic French sauces — just some of the many entrees that bring originality to the table and make a trip to this restaurant a true foodie experience.

Mountain Kid’s Cook-Off
Sept. 9 | Noon
Watch the kids’ version as teams of 8 to 12 year olds show off their culinary skills to win the Golden Whisk.

Check out the schedule for Autumn Food & Wine

So it’s no wonder that Burns is the reigning champion of the Autumn Food and Wine Festival’s Blazing Pans Mountain Chef Cook-Off — Tahoe’s version of the popular “Iron Chef” television show.

“I’ve done a lot of cooking in strange places, like the middle of the woods with no power. I am a problem solver.” – Brynn Madden

The 2017 Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival is from Sept. 8 to 10 at Northstar California. The Blazing Pans Mountain Chef Cook-Off is on Sept. 9 and Burns will be defending his title. He can only bring his knives, mandolin, micro planer and his sous chef Omar Manga.

Brynn Madden of Nourish Natural Foods in Kings Beach is this year’s challenger. Madden is a certified natural private chef and caterer. She uses local sourced organic ingredients and describes her food as rustic farm-style.

Chef Brynn Madden

Both chefs will be challenged to create two dishes in 45 minutes — and neither have any idea what they’ll be preparing or what is in the pantry.

“Last year was my first time in the event,” says Burns. “We had 10 to 15 minutes to create the first course and 30 minutes to make the entrée. There was a protein in the panty, dairy and produce, mysterious items, dry spices and herbs and condiments.”

The main ingredient prepared in both courses was eggs.

“There were quail eggs, duck eggs and chicken eggs. It was a cool set-up at the event, pretty interesting. It included a grill set-up, six burners and a toaster oven,” he says

With the pressure on, Burns was ready. Moody’s small kitchen serves 600 covers a day. “Omar and I are used to putting a lot of food together in a little bit of time,” says Burns.

What cinched his 2016 win was a first course of grilled asparagus, shaved thin with poached quail eggs and micro planed chicken eggs (hard boiled), which he tied together with smoked trout and crème fraiche. For the second course, Burns choose to make a breakfast entrée. He whipped up a seared duck breast in duck eggs with Brussels sprouts and sweet potato hash served over a goat cheese gribiche (a French mayonnaise-style cold egg sauce).

“We had a great time,” Burns says. “I’ll make sure my knives are sharp.”

His choice of knives are Japanese: Hattori and Misono knives.

The challenger, Madden is no stranger to preparing foods for large events. Madden is at home catering wedding parties for 250 or more people or feeding the masses at High Sierra Music Festival. When she received a call from event organizers, she agreed.

“I have no clue what to expect. I’ve never done anything like this. It is going to go by very quickly,” she says. “I’ve done a lot of cooking in strange places, like the middle of the woods with no power. I am a problem solver.”

Both chefs step up to the plate, so to speak, on Sept. 9 at 4:45 p.m. in the Village at Northstar. Spectators are encouraged to cheer them on as they race to finish their courses. The restaurant world and the private chef world will collide and be judged on creativity, plating skills and flavor of the food.

The 32nd annual Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival will host a full schedule of activities, such as a children’s cooking competition, a culinary competition with more of Tahoe’s chefs, farm-to-table dinners, wine tastings and live cooking demonstrations. There is a mix of free and ticketed events for all ages. |




3:45 to 5 p.m.
Art of Mixology
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe
$60 per person
This entertaining, educational experience will feature freshly cut herbs, classic ingredients such as bitters and infused liquors to create three unique cocktails paired with appetizers. Guest will enjoy this workshop al fresco at The Backyard Bar & BBQ. Advance purchase of tickets is required. Walk-ins will be accepted on a space-available basis. Price inclusive of tax and gratuity, minimum age applies for participation.

5 to 6 p.m.
The Backyard Brick Oven Experience
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe
$15 per child (ages 12 and younger)
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe culinarians will teach your children the art of building their own pizzas this summer in their backyard. The young chefs will work with their culinary team to stretch dough, choose toppings and fire their creations in a backyard brick oven. Please note parents must be present with children as the Backyard Bar & BBQ will be open for parents to enjoy.

6 to 9 p.m.
Farm-to-Tahoe Dinner
The Zephyr Lodge, Northstar California Mountain
$115 Advance, $130 Day Of
The Northstar culinary team will create a delicious, multi-course dining experience featuring a menu using fresh, sustainable and locally-sourced produce sure to please the palate. Guests will escape up the mountain at Northstar California during an evening gondola ride delivering them to the iconic Zephyr Lodge. The menu will be enjoyed with beer, wine and light beverages as guests enjoy live music and signature, floor-to-ceiling views of the Sierra Pacific Crest. Advance purchase of tickets to this event is required as limited seating is available. All guests must be 21 or older to participate.

8:15 to 10:30 p.m.
Mountainside Tahoe Stargazing with Tahoe Star Tours
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe – Café Blue & The Meadows
$40 per adult, $20 per children (Ages 12 and younger)
Explore the night sky viewing the Cosmos with star guide and poet Tony Berendsen in an educational night that includes a laser tour of the constellations, telescopic viewing, a fun space quiz with prizes, poetry reading and more.


11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Bently Ranch Luncheon
Overlook, The Village at Northstar
$60 Advance, 65 day of
Explore the benefits of cooking with Bently Ranch’s sustainably raised, dry aged, grass fed beef with a three-course luncheon prepared by Northstar’s own Chad Shrewsbury, Executive Chef of Tavern 6330’. The three courses highlight three different cuts of beef artfully paired with crispy brews from Lagunitas Brewing Company. You will learn of the innovative practices of the Bently Ranch including expanding the grass-fed meat program to include a certified organic cowherd, and working to grow organic small grains for Bently Heritage, an estate distillery.

11 1:30 p.m.
Take a Hike. Progressive Picnic
Northstar Mountain
$65 Advance, $75 Day Of
Northstar California invites guests to savor gourmet bites and craft brews in the open air, taking in the mountain’s natural beauty as they enjoy a trailside beer tasting, progressive picnic and guided hike through the Tahoe National Forest. Accompanied by a professional trail guide, participants will explore the breathtaking wilderness and become familiarized with the native flora and fauna. Each trailside tasting station will guide guests further along the route as they sample various varietals of craft beers perfectly paired with gourmet tapas. Hikers of all ability levels are encouraged to participate and secure tickets in advance; guests will be welcomed on a space-available basis the day of the event.

11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
Sips & Salutations
Tahoe Yoga & Wellness, The Village at Northstar
$25 Advance, $30 Day Of
Find your balance while balancing the flavors of hand-selected wines. Start the day with a flow-based yoga class followed by a guided wine tasting. This event is sure to help you find your Zen both inside and outside the classroom.

11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Gourmet Marketplace Vendor Fair
The Village at Northstar | COMPLIMENTARY
Meander through the cobblestone walkways of The Village at Northstar while exploring the finest local and regional gourmet and artisan treasures in the Gourmet Marketplace Vendor Fair. The open-air marketplace displays kitchen gadgets, gourmet foods, fine linens and clothing, exquisite handmade jewelry, fine art, photography, spa products and much more.

Noon to 4 p.m.
Village Wine and Brew Walk
The Village at Northstar
$35 Advance, $40 Day Of
The Village at Northstar will transform into a mecca of delectable varietals during The Village Wine and Brew Walk. Guests are invited to prep their taste buds for the Grand Tasting event as they leisurely taste and learn about different wines and brews setup at stations throughout the boutique shops. Guests age 21 and over are invited to participate in the casual afternoon event which includes a souvenir tasting glass.

Noon to 4 p.m.
Kid’s Zone
Overlook, The Village at Northstar
Kids and kids-at-heart can delight in all kinds of fun activities located atop The Overlook, in the heart of The Village at Northstar. Complimentary face painting and balloon sculptures will be available as well as arts & crafts projects and a play area on The Overlook Deck for younger guests. Additional ticketed activities available throughout the weekend include the bungee trampoline, rock wall, spider climbing web and slide, gem panning station and miniature golf features located throughout The Village.

Noon to 1:15 p.m.
Mountain Kid’s Cook-Off Finals
Village Stage, The Village at Northstar, Free
The Mountain Kid’s Cook-Off Challenge brought teams of 8- to 12-year-old culinary artists to Northstar California where they competed in two rounds of cuisine challenges to qualify for the final phase of competition taking place during the Autumn Food and Wine Festival. The final two teams will compete head-to-head for the Champion title and will walk away with the Golden Whisk trophy. The region’s youngest culinary artists not only are perfecting their culinary technique as they create experiences of a lifetime, but also contributing to the Tahoe-based non-profit Project MANA.

1:30 to 4 p.m.
Vertical Mountainside Tasting
The Village at Northstar and Northstar Mountain
$45 Advance, $50 Day Of
Join Northstar and a partner winery on an adventure that truly elevates your taste buds as you ascend the mountain. Guests start in the Village for their first tasting at 6330’ in elevation. Then take the Big Springs Gondola to Mid-Mountain, located at 6850’, for a second tasting and some light snacks. The third and final tasting will take place at our picturesque Zephyr Lodge located at 7870’, accessed via the Zephyr Gondola. Guests will not only taste but then enjoy a glass of their favorite wine from the afternoon on the Zephyr Lodge deck while savoring the view of the Sawtooth Ridge.

4:45 to 6 p.m.
Blazing Pans Mountain Chef Cook-Off
Village Stage, The Village at Northstar
Guests of the Autumn Food and Wine Festival are encouraged to spectate at one of the most anticipated events of the weekend – the Blazing Pans Mountain Chef Cook-Off. Guests are encouraged to holler and cheer on their favorite competitor during the heated battle. Two renowned local chefs will prepare two courses of restaurant-quality dishes within 45 minutes. Each chef will have to incorporate a secret ingredient which will be revealed just before the clock starts ticking. The winner of the coveted title will receive an award and forever bragging-rights. And Charbay Artisan Distillery will be on-site pouring a delicious cocktail available for purchase.

6 to 9 p.m.
Tahoe Long Table Harvest Dinner
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe
$155 per person
Prepared by Executive Chef Mark Jeffers of The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Long Table Harvest Dinner will feature a family-style dinner presentation of a special harvest menu that incorporates the freshest, locally sourced, sustainable ingredients. This farm-to-table dinner will seat guests together at a long table on the Fireside Terrace paired with wines from Grigch Hills Estate al fresco amongst a mountainside setting.

6:30 to 9 p.m.
Charbay Distillery & Winery Annual Release Party
Featuring Marko & Jenni Karakasevic of Charbay Artisan Distillery and Chef Jason Gronlund
Zephyr Lodge, Northstar California Mountain
$95 Advance, $105 Day Of
A highlight of the Autumn Food and Wine Festival, the Charbay Annual Release Party, invites guests to spend the evening on the mountain with the 13th-generation Master Distiller and notorious hype-man, Marko Karakasevic of Charbay Artisan Distillery preparing a variety of handcrafted cocktails. Guests will enjoy the cocktail creations alongside masterfully-prepared hors d’oeuvres presented by culinary master Chef Jason Gronlund, President of the non-profit Chef Relief and champion of the famed Garlic Showdown at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. The flavors are only matched by the ambiance guests will experience riding two gondolas to arrive at The Zephyr Lodge, perched on-mountain and showcasing an unforgettable sunset. Party guests must be age 21 and over and should secure tickets in advance as seating is limited.

7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Wine’d Down Movie Night
Northstar Village
Families and friends are invited to sit back, relax and sip wine during a complementary, al fresco showing of a kid-approved movie. A limited number of chairs will be available for guests to use, please also feel free to bring personal, low-back chairs and blankets to make for a cozy evening. Wine will be available for purchase throughout the evening.

 8:15 to 10 p.m.
Tahoe Star Tour
Northstar Cosmoarium, Castle Peak Parking Lot
$40 Adult, $20 Child
Experience the wonder and awe of the dark skies above Northstar California during the final Tahoe Star Tour event of the season. Our Star Guide will educate the crowd with an informative astronomy presentation including a laser-tour of the sky and telescopic viewing of the cosmos through state-of-the-art computerized Celestron telescopes. Kids are welcome to this event featuring fireside seating, s’mores and hot chocolate while adults enjoy a delicious wine tasting.


11 4 p.m.
Gourmet Marketplace Vendor Fair
The Village at Northstar
Meander through the cobblestone walkways of The Village at Northstar while exploring the finest local and regional gourmet and artisan treasures in the Gourmet Marketplace Vendor Fair. The open-air marketplace displays kitchen gadgets, gourmet foods, fine linens and clothing, exquisite handmade jewelry, fine art, photography, spa products and much more.

Sept. 10 | 11:30 2:30 p.m.
Champagne Brunch
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe
$69 Adults, $19 Children (Ages 6 to 12)
Enjoy a seasonally-focused brunch menu featuring a chilled seafood display, a carving station, salads, cheese and charcuterie, along with breakfast favorites and desserts. Unlimited Champagne and Bloody Mar Bar included. Advance reservations are recommended by contacting Manzanita Reservations at (530) 562-3050.

1 to 4 p.m.
Grand Tasting & Culinary Competition
The Village at Northstar and The Overlook
$75 Advance, $95 Day Of
The most anticipated food, wine, spirits and brew event of the year is back for the 32nd consecutive year. An al fresco afternoon tasting features more than 25 top chefs in the region paired with 25 premium wines, sprits and brews in a formally judged food and wine pairing competition. Each chef’s dish is paired with a varietal and vintage from the winery or brewery of their choice. It’s a culinary throw-down and the chefs compete for the Best Marriage of Food and Wine/Beverage and Best Food categories in addition to the coveted People’s Choice Awards. The offerings are judged by a panel of food and wine industry experts, and then the pairings are opened for ticketholders to enjoy.

Guest tickets also allow them to sample from additional wineries pouring their finest varietals and vintages. Guests age 21 and over can expect to find great weather, spectacular food and fine wines, craft beers, artisan spirits and live music with good friends – all in the mountain setting of North Lake Tahoe in The Village at Northstar.