The lighted tree at the entrance of Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa
The lighted tree at the entrance of Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa

I’ve noticed a new trend emerge within the last year: beer or wine-pairing dinners, chef collaboration dinners, pop-up dinners, and chef takeovers. It seems the culinary world is hot to unite. I’ve been to a few of these now, and the energy is really magical. The chefs seem more excited than ever to collaborate and learn from one another, and in turn, this supportive environment breeds ingenuity, creative pairings, and some damn good food. As a diner, you benefit from this culinary bromance.

As was the case at the most recent chef collaboration dinner I attended at Veladora at Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa in Rancho Santa Fe. It was my first time at Rancho Valencia, and after driving on the long, windy road for what seemed like hours up to the resort, I realized its distance from the city is intentional. I left the bustle and noise of downtown to land in a secluded, upscale wonderland. The five-star resort is spread across a 45-acre property that includes newly renovated casitas with private patios (read: individual high-end bungalows in lieu of hotel rooms), two restaurants and bars, an exclusive spa, two saline pools, a fitness program offering more than 85 group exercise classes per week, 18 tennis courts, and access to nearby golf courses. So yeah, it’s really nice.

The chefs at Veladora collaborated with the chefs from Twin Farms in Vermont to create an amazing five-course meal with wine pairings. Twin Farms is an all-inclusive resort situated on 300 acres outside of Burlington, and was created by famed author Sinclair Lewis and his wife Dorothy Thompson in 1928. The chef teams delivered a seasonal, well-balanced meal that included a market salad, Atlantic scallop, pork belly, venison strip loin and olive oil cake. The  two amuse-bouche courses, a veloute and caviar, set the tone for the dinner. Each progressive wine course was chosen with great consideration and included champagne, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir, syrah, and a sparkling red, respectively. We sat outside in the courtyard under heat lamps and a sky uncrowded by the city lights. For any Vermonters interested, a second dinner will take place at Twin Farms in May. I certainly wish I could go for round two of that meal…

Chef collaboration dinner at Veladora Coastal Ranch with Twin Farms
Chef collaboration dinner at Veladora with Twin Farms