Home Industry News Releases Chef Charlie Palmer’s Pigs & Pinot 2014 Recap

Chef Charlie Palmer’s Pigs & Pinot 2014 Recap


World renowned chefs and vintners gather in wine country for the 9th Annual Pigs & Pinot celebration raising serious funds for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign and local Sonoma charities and scholarships 

Pigs and Pinot

Healdsburg, CA. – On March 21-22, pork and pinot lovers from around the country gathered in Sonoma wine country for Chef Charlie Palmer’s 9th Annual Pigs & Pinot weekend, held at the award-winning Hotel Healdsburg and Dry Creek Kitchen. Honored guest chefs, Bryan Voltaggio, Amanda Freitag, Frank Crispo, and Vincent Pouessel, along with local Sonoma County restaurants and over 60 Pinot Noir-producing winemakers, lent their talents to raise serious funds for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign and local Sonoma county charities and scholarships.

Thank you to all who made our 9th Annual Pigs & Pinot weekend the ultimate success,” says Chef Charlie Palmer. “I’m overwhelmed by the talent and passion from the winemakers, chefs, and everyone else who came together for our charities and community.  I really appreciate the true spirit of collaboration involved in this event and I am so grateful that we continue to make an ever-growing contribution to our Pigs & Pinot charities.”

– Award Winners & Event Highlights –

Friday, March 21: Taste of Pigs & Pinot

Over 600 Guests Wined & Dined on 60 Pinot Noirs, as well as the 2014 addition of 2 rosés, and 30 pork tastings  

The sold-out benefit kicked off with Friday’s Taste event featuring the best Pinot Noirs in the world alongside inspired pork tastings including:

  • Bryan Voltaggio’s (Range, Volt, Aggio) Coffee BBQ Pork Shoulder with Roasted Squash Sauerkraut, Jalapeno & Smoked Jack Cheddar Biscuit
  • Amanda Freitag’s (Empire Diner) Avocado with Hearts of Palm, Applewood Smoked Bacon & Lime Vinaigrette
  • Chef Frank Crispo’s (Crispo Restaurant) Hot & Sweet Soppressata with Caponata & Provolone
  • Chef Vincent Pouessel’s (Aureole Las Vegas) Spicy ‘Italian’ Duroc Pork Sausage with Caramelized Sweet Onion, Rosemary Focaccia & Chipotle Aioli
  • Charlie Palmer’s Duroc Porchetta with Local Espelette Pepper, Preserved Lemon & Muscat Mustard
  • Dustin Valette’s (Dry Creek Kitchen) Hickory Smoked Duroc Pork ‘Rib’ with Celeriac Coleslaw, Pinot Noir, BBQ Sauce & Espelette Pepper

Many notable Healdsburg chefs joined in the pork party, including:

  • Louis Maldonado’s (Spoonbar & PizZando) Posole Verde with Pork Shoulder & Baby Vegetables
  • Peter Brown’s (Jimtown Store) Gigante Beans with Smoked Pork, Wild Mushrooms & Crispy Pancetta
  • Ryan Fancher’s (Barndiva) Quail Egg & Fried Prosciutto BLT

Friday evening also included the reveal of the highly anticipated Pinot Cup winner. The notable judging panel of the 2014 Pinot Cup—a blind tasting competition among 60 handpicked Pinot Noirs—included owner and publisher of the Tasting Panel, Meridith May, Master Sommelier, Michael Jordan, and acclaimed wine expert and writer, Wilfred Wong.  After much deliberation, the discerning judges came to an overwhelming consensus to select the winners.  Congratulations to:

  • Pinot Cup Winner:  MacPhail 2010 “The Flyer,” Russian River Valley
  • Pinot Cup Runner-up: Twomey 2011, Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley

A complete list of the participating Taste wineries and chefs/restaurants can be found at www.PigsandPinot.com.

Saturday, March 22:

Tournament of the Pig

Celebrity chef teams and Mario Cantone have a rousing good time raising an additional $12,500 for Pigs & Pinot charities  

On Saturday morning guests filed into Relish Culinary Adventures, to attend the highly anticipated “Tournament of the Pig,” which divided the four gala toques into two teams pitting them against each other in a Battle of the Chefs style competition. Master of Ceremonies, Mario Cantone, stole the show providing guests with culinary and comical commentary throughout the competition.  Chefs Bryan Voltaggio and Vincent Pouessel teamed up against Chefs Frank Crispo and Amanda Freitag. A 150-pound pig was provided by Devil’s Gulch Ranch along with a market basket of secret ingredients to inspire two creations from each chef team, one People’s Choice dish voted on by the attendees and one chosen by the discerning judging panel whose spots were auctioned off by Mario Cantone.  These critics won their coveted seats on the panel by generously donating between $2500-5000 each, amounting in an extra $12,500 for Pigs & Pinot charities.  Each team was assisted by Chef Palmer, Chef Dustin Valette (Dry Creek Kitchen), and sous chefs from their respective restaurants.  While votes were close, Team Voltaggio and Pouessel took home the bacon by winning over the judges with their duo of Devil’s Gulch pork with Dr. Pepper & Kimchi Braised Pork Belly and Pancetta Wrapped, Herb Crusted Pork Loin for the ultimate title of 2014 Tournament of the Pig Champions.  

Ultimate Sommelier Smackdown Seminar – 16 Pinots, 4 Master Sommeliers, 1 Winner

At the “March-Madness” style competition led by master sommeliersKeith Goldston, Fred Dame, Drew Hendricks, and Michael Jordan—each host entered his personal selection of four Pinot Noirs from around the world and then “pitched” the audience on why their wine picks were the best. Four rousing rounds later, the audience ultimately named Keith Goldston, in his 9th Pigs & Pinot, the 2014 Smackdown King for selecting the winning wines:

  • Winner: Soliste 2010 Foret Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
  • Runner-up: Trombetta 2011 Gap’s Crown, Sonoma Coast 

Dry Creek Kitchen Gala Dinner 

On Saturday night, the Pigs & Pinot five-course Gala Dinner was held at Hotel Healdsburg’s Dry Creek Kitchen.  As a collaborative offering among the master chefs, each course featured a signature creation from Palmer or one of his guest chefs, paired with limited-production pinot noirs from acclaimed winemakers Michael Browne (Cirq), Pierre-Emmanuel Gelin (Domaine Pierre-Gelin), Jesse Katz (Roth), Tom Rochioli (Rochioli), and Mike Weersing (Pyramid Valley).

Spoonbar Swine & Wine DInner

Hotel Healdsburg’s sister property h2hotel also joined in the celebration by offering a casual four-course “Swine & Wine” dinner prepared by h2hotel’s Spoonbar Executive Chef Louis Maldonado and his Top Chef co-competitor Carey Mashaney.  Dinner was paired with wines from two acclaimed Sonoma County Pinot Noir producers, Banshee and Flanagan.


In 2013, Charlie Palmer’s Eighth Annual Pigs & Pinot raised over $130,000 for its beneficiaries.  Again this year, we were blessed to have had such a successful event and thrilled to have raised money for several very important causes.  All net proceeds benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign to end childhood hunger in America, as well as local Sonoma County scholarships and charities.  The current list of 2014 beneficiaries includes:  Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign; Culinary Scholarship, Culinary Institute of America; Pigs & Pinot Wine Scholarship, The Court of Master Sommeliers, Level 1; Pigs & Pinot Wine Scholarship, Sonoma State University; Sonoma County Farm Bureau; Healdsburg Education Foundation; Healdsburg’s Tuesdays in the Plaza. A detailed summary of Pigs & Pinot beneficiaries can be at www.PigsandPinot.com.


The event is generously supported by sponsors including: Visa Signature, DCS Appliances by Fisher & Paykel, The Pork Board, FIJI Water, Encore Events, and Relish Culinary Adventures, as well as participating wineries and restaurants, which help to make this weekend celebration possible.  A complete list of our sponsors can be found by visiting www.PigsandPinot.com.

Tribute to Pigs and Pinot

For those who weren’t able to attend the official event, Hotel Healdsburg and Dry Creek Kitchen are continuing the celebration through April 13 with special Pigs & Pinot menus, hotel packages and winery excursions. For complete details, visit the Dry Creek Kitchen website. 

Available by request:

  • Complete weekend photography.  View select images here.  Photo credit: Charlie Gesell
  • Gala dinner menu and wine pairings
  • Dishes and wines served during Taste
  • Bios of participating chefs and winemakers
  • Notable guests

About Charlie Palmer
Hospitality Entrepreneur, Hotelier and Chef Charlie Palmer has received critical acclaim for his signature “Progressive American” cooking, a style built on rambunctious, intense flavors and unexpected combinations with an infusion of classical French cuisine.  In 1988, he made a landmark commitment to creating dishes featuring regional American ingredients at his sublime Aureole, now in its 25th year and located in the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park.  Over the years Palmer has established an impressive roster of restaurants across the country and a growing collection of boutique hotels and food forward wine shops. A frequent guest on NBC’s Today Show, Palmer is also the author of five cookbooks, Great American Food (Random House/1996), Charlie Palmer’s Casual Cooking (Harper Collins/2001), The Art of Aureole, (Ten Speed Press/2002), Charlie Palmer’s Practical Guide to the New American Kitchen (Melcher Media/2006), and Remington Camp Cooking (Welcome Books/2013).

No child should grow up hungry in America, but one in five children struggles with hunger. Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign is ending childhood hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day. The No Kid Hungry campaign connects kids in need to effective nutrition programs like school breakfast and summer meals and teaches low-income families to cook healthy, affordable meals through Cooking Matters.  This work is accomplished through the No Kid Hungry network, made up of private citizens, public officials, nonprofits, business leaders and others providing innovative hunger solutions in their communities. Join us at NoKidHungry.org.

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  1. Thanks for the Pinot recap! BUT…
    Amazing and sad to see you leave out a Local Healdsburg Company and Chef, Vintage valley Catering.
    I also believe had one of the best dishes Friday night, they had incredible roasted pork belly.


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