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Blissful Bites

Tanya Holland brings high-end soul food to Pebble Beach Food & Wine



Jeremiah Tower salutes guests at a past dinner.

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A citrus-enhanced dish.

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And chef Tanya Holland, who, before opening her own restaurants, trained under Michel Sarran at Le Mas du Langoustier on the island of Porquerolles, and was creative director at Le Theatre in Berkeley.

Photo: Smeeta Mahanti

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Carmel has its coastal charms and its epicurean lures too. The 12th annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival is just around the corner April 11 to 14, featuring 250 wineries and 100 celebrity chefs, as well as VIP packages ($1,350 to $7,000) with access to select events and receptions. Tanya Holland, a La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine-trained chef who founded Oakland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen (which earned a 2017 Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand) will present her signature modern take on soul food, which includes organic, seasonal and locally grown ingredients, and is inspired by her family’s history of entertaining. No stranger to the spotlight—she competed on the 15th season of Bravo TV’s Top Chef—Holland says she’s ready to throw down at the four-day, seaside event.

Is this your first Pebble Beach?
It’s my first time participating, but I was invited last year and went. I’m selective about festivals. What I love about Pebble Beach is that you’re with the creme da la creme of chefs, and it’s set up to appeal to a fine-dining clientele. I remember, last year, sitting around the fire pit at the event, staring out over the ocean, thinking this is for me. I’m a fancy girl.

What’s difficult about participating in an event like this?
I can tell you what the most difficult part was last year, and I wasn’t even a participant (laughs). Two-thirds of the way there, I got a text from [film director] Ryan Coogler (Black Panther, Fruitvale Station) that he was dropping by my old restaurant with Idris Elba. Unfortunately, I couldn’t turn back.

What will you be doing at this year’s festival?
At least two events, including a brunch, possibly with [The Chew co-host] Carla Hall. That hasn’t been formalized yet. I’m excited to introduce my food to travelers from around the world.


Originally published in the March issue of Silicon Valley

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