Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I will remember.

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” – Chinese Proverb

And that is the essence of any great chef demonstration. I admittedly went a bit overboard and binged on the demos – sticking around the tent for all of the Chefs taking the stage at this year’s Sun Valley Harvest Festival. Local favorites and leading chefs were in from Palm Beach, New York, Portland and Los Angeles.

Here’s the official rundown:


Judith McQueen – Judith McQueen Entertaining, Ketchum ID- Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes


Whether you say tomayto or tomahto – I’d venture that you’ve never tried Tomato Water. So simple yet flavorful. Apparently, the nectar of the 90′s per the NYTimes “…the clear essence of summer in spoonable form.”


And Chef McQeen’s Tomato Risotto is a must-mangia attempt in my home kitchen.



Clay Conley – Buccan, Palm Beach, FL – Rabbit – Head to Foot

I have to admit the title threw me a bit. But I’m a carnivore, and with my venturing into the world of charcuterie I’ve become a tad obsessed at using the full animal and the art of butchery.

From the above Boned Saddle to Braised legs in Rabbit Stock, confit and liver atop grilled bread…


Chef Conley used the entire creature and it was delicious. 


Chris Kastner – CK’s Real Food, Hailey, ID – It’s Not Just Soup


CK’s delicious duo of roasted tomato and squash soups.


Melissa Costello – Karma Chow, Los Angeles, CA – Know Your Food – Simple & Seasonal Vegan Cooking. I’m fascinated by vegan cooking and Chef Costello delivered.


The recipes for her Raw Kale Salad with Creamy Chipotle Dressing and Coconut Yam Soup are available on Karma Chow.


Dave Martin – Bravo Top Chef and Restaurant Consultant – Gearing up for Fall


A repeat performance of our Carnivore’s Dream dinner – but still an entertaining and delicious demo (and now I have the much drooled over goat cheese & bacon grits recipe!)


And my Red Sky foodie colleagues were front and center for the Chef Dave show.



Cathy Whims – Nostrana, Portland, OR – A Taste of Italy’s Piemonte in Idaho

Taite Pearson – della Mano, Ketchum, ID
Mise en place; Basic Knife Skills, Decorative Cuts and Techniques for the Proper Preparation of Vegetables



Sam Talbot – The Surf Lodge, Montauk, NY and Imperial No. 9, New York. NY
Some like it hot some like it Trout. Cooking with fresh water’s favorite fish

Chef Sam was showcasing Clear Springs Trout with Blackberry Vinagrette. “It’s about selecting the freshest ingredients and letting them speak for themselves.” Amen.


He has Type 1 Diabetes and is passionate about making diabetes-friendly diets that are flavor-packed (don’t sacrifice flavor, sacrifice carbohydrates). His new book ‘The Sweet Life’ is out this November.

Have to share the most-often shared wisdom from all the chefs – the power of salt. And the power of the right kind of salt. As Chef Sam said – you should only be using Kosher or Sea Salts.

And Chef Dave made it the most memorable, “Unless you’re a family of pirates and you are worried about getting scurvy, don’t use ionized salt.”

A Carnivore’s Dream with Chef Dave Martin @ Sun Valley HarvestFestival

There’s nothing I like more with a thoughtfully crafted meal with friends while meeting new people.

Wait, check that.

There is something I like more – a thoughtfully crafted meal with good friends and new ones when that meal is prepared by a dynamic personality whose love of cooking oozes out of his pores.

Just like ambiance can make or break a meal, so can the personality of the chef behind the meal.


In the case of the Carnivore’s Dream dinner pre-event for the Sun Valley Harvest Festival - Chef Dave Martin (of Top Chef fame) ratcheted up the evening with his wit, enthusiasm and pure joy for the experience and engagement with the dinner crowd of 70.

Enough of my blathering – let’s get to the true star of the show – the amazing spread prepared by Chef Dave and local Chef Brent Barsotti. Here is the nom-worthy menu, chock full of local meats and produce courtesy Idaho’s Bounty, Snake River Farms, Ballard Cheese, Teton Waters Ranch and Bucksnort Root Beer.


  • Dave’s Ginger POM Martini made with American Harvest Organic Vodka
  • Local Idaho Trout–Gravlax Style, short cured with Idaho Potato Tuile Topped with Local Chevre
  • Bounty of Local Idaho Cheeses from Ballard Cheese, Dried Fruits, Nuts and Idaho Honey

Dinner Menu

Salad of Duck Confit-Idaho Duck, Oven Roasted Pears, Nutmeg Walnuts, Apple Cider Vinaigrette, a sprinkle of Bleu Cheese and a pinch of Frisee


Citrus Marinated Idaho Grass Fed Teton Waters Ranch Skirt Steak over Roasted Corn Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette


Brent’s Famous Fava Bean Tortellini with sauce of Butternut Squash topped with Grana Padano and Fried Sage


Bucksnort Root Beer Braised Snake River Farms Pork atop Wild Cherrywood Bacon & Goat Cheese Grits drizzled with Dave’s Roasted Poblano BBQ Sauce


Pumpkin Panna Cotta with Molasses Cookie and Salted Chantilly Cream

A few observations from this extremely happy foodie:

  • I enjoy eating a confit as much as I enjoy saying the word.
  • Roasted corn salad comes alive when with a light and refreshing vinaigrette and can trump a hella-good skirt steak.
  • Fava beans AREN’T just for the enjoyment of creepy Hannibal Lector. Puree and add in some marscapone cheese and it’s a fab filling.
  • Who knew that root beer was for braising? 
  • Hello! Grits? When you are combined with bacon and silky smooth goat cheese you are elevated to foodgasm status.
  • Salt can pop anything. Forget salted caramels – my new favorite end to a fabulous meal is a kick-ass panna cotta with salted cream to pop that flavor.
  • You always meet entertaining people at group dinners. Case in point – the crew from Sysco Idaho. It was a true pleasure meeting the corporate Chef Randy King and I can’t wait to hear him emcee’ing the Chef Demos.
  • Chef Dave is a gem – and his personal attention to every diner’s happiness made the event.


Here’s to a foodie heaven weekend up in the mountains! The Sun Valley Harvest Festival officially kicks off tonight with a Restaurant Walk and events throughout the entire weekend (p.s. there is still time to come imbibe & indulge!) Check the website and the festival program for more information. 


– Jess Flynn