By Rick Riozza

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends! Well—in a perfect world, this valley’s largest food & wine event of the year—the coveted Palm Desert Food & Wine festival, will continue on until kingdom comes! Hey!—but one culinary day at a time.

I like Palm Springs’ journalist, Maggie Downs’, recent written words for this year’s epicurean event: “If you cook it, they will come.  If you cook it with imagination and heart, they will come back again and again and again.”

For the 7th year, our valley venue is pleased to stage the fashionable and sought-after international Food & Wine Fest where over 40 restaurants and 60 world class wineries will participate for the season’s gastronomic adventure—Bring your appetite and stay thirsty!

The festival begins this Friday, Saturday & Sunday, March24-26 and the Schedule of Events which include the James Beard Gourmet Four-Course Luncheon, Celebrity Chef Demonstrations, Restaurant, Wine & Craft Beer Tastings, Wine & Spirit Seminars, and other activities can be viewed online at are on sale now!

The event takes place at the Gardens on El Paseo in Palm Desert. Look towards the lavish tents that will lodge extremely comfortable alongside the predicted “perfect” weather.  Further, this year, the event  is proud to support Coachella Valley’s FIND Food Bank  in that for every Palm Desert Food & Wine ticket purchased, 35 meals will be provided to this charitable body, which provides food assistance and basic essentials to those in need in the local community through a network of agency members.

So all the more reason to be on board!  I’ll be recommending some of the vino & foodie activities that I’ll be heading to, but for a complete preview of all the goings-on, check out the polished publication online at

The event begins with the luncheon of your dreams, held this Friday, March 24th from 11:30am to 2pm with the aforementioned James Beard Gourmet Four-Course Gala, where food writer and TV personality, Gail Simmons, who is emceeing the lavish afternoon.  Here, four stellar dishes will be prepared by four nationally acclaimed chefs, and, all dishes will be paired with the outstanding wines from around the world.

Further these same chefs along with other illustrious epicures from all over the map, including our valley’s own celebrity chefs such as Grand Master Hervé Glin, the Parker, Andrew Copley, Copley’s on Palm Canyon, Bruno Lopez, Ritz-Carlton, Daniel Villanueva, Beyond Balisage, Drew Davis, Catalan, and many other super-talented local chefs will be representing their restaurants. 

They will be conducting prepping & cooking demonstrations throughout the event from 12:30pm to 3:30 pm. Saturday and Sunday.  Again, consult the event schedule to find your favorite chef and cuisine; better yet, use some tasty time-management and hit them all!

And note: On Saturday, 10am, March 25th, the VIP Grand Tasting pass will include one-hour early entrance to the event, where pastry maven & pundit, Gale Gand, will be putting on a Pie Camp.

Last year, I came up with a to & fro schedule of sorts itinerary that got us through cozy Champagnes, soft Pinot Noirs, comforting Cab Francs and sassy Cab Sauvs.  This year let’s keep things simple with the casual cruise in and through the art & love of culinary tasting.

As we are soon to greet the desert’s springtime weather, we will surely wish to suds-it-up with a visit to some new craft breweries on the scene here.  I’m big on both Belching Beaver Brewery and Bootlegger’s Brewery—be there at their booths!

Wineries and wine producers present at this event that are particularly on my radar scope include: Trinitas Cellars, Napa, Grgich Hills Estate, Napa, Summerland Winery, Santa Barbara, Poggio Basso, Italian wine portfolio, Navarro Vineyards, Mendocino, Schug Winery, Carneros, Maysara Winery, Willamette Valley, and of course our engaging organic entourage that include Eco Terreno Wine, Frey Vineyards and the Organic Wine Exchange. The list of course goes on.  I look forward to meeting, greeting & quaffing with you all!

The entire event is presented by the Agua Caliente Casino Resort & Spa and organized by Palm Springs Life.  So thanks to the City of Palm Desert, the Gardens on El Paseo, and all whose efforts we so appreciate.

Another Gourmet’s Delight Alert! Everyone in town knows the quality work Kathleen Von Dehn and her charitable organization has done providing for the less fortunate.  The Winewomen PSP monthly wine events benefit local charities such as Martha’s Village & Kitchen, Go Red for Women, Desert Cancer Foundation, Well in the Desert, Shelter from the Storm, Desert Aids Project, and many other valued organizations.

The next scheduled March dinner event, supporting the Heart2Heart Foundation, will be held at our valley’s famed venue, the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage.  My friend, Chef Robert Nyerick, who I’ve covered many times in this column, plans an extensive menu.  Sunday March 26, 2017, 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM$89.00 Winewomen PSP Members and $99.00 Non-Members. Go to

And let’s not forget: Lulu California Bistro, welcomes the esteemed Rombauer Vineyards to Palm Springs for a spring wine event on March 28th, with a four-course dinner and pairing with the finest wines from Rombauer.

Jerry Keller, owner and creator of Lulu, proclaims, “we’re delighted to have our culinary team create a custom menu paired with some of Rombauer’s best varietals from the Napa Valley and Carneros region.”

If there’s a party in town it’s happening at Lulu and I also hear that this dinner will be full of surprises in addition to a fun and delicious dinner.  The cost is just $99 per person (inclusive of tax and gratuity), a terrific value for wine lovers of these popular and delicious vintages. Reservations are required: 760-327-585

Bonne Fête & Bon Appétit—Cheers!

Rick is the valley’s somm-about-town conducting and entertaining at wine events, restaurant venues, and tastings. Contact