Why You Should go to Celebrity Chef Week at Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto

loreto, mexico, baja sur, mexican food, CircaWanderlust, Circa Wanderlust, Ess Mckn, Stephanie Hames, Stephanie McKenna, Stephanie Hames McKenna, Tim McKenna

My first time in Mexico was a press trip to cover Celebrity Chef Week at Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto for The Fairtytale Traveler. Having recently binge watched every Anthony Bourdain travel episode on Netflix, I was STOKED when this trip came up. Food + a luxury hotel sounded like the perfect getaway before I packed up the house and moved to East Tennessee.

loreto, mexico, baja sur, mexican food, CircaWanderlust, Circa Wanderlust, Ess Mckn, Stephanie Hames, Stephanie McKenna, Stephanie Hames McKenna, Tim McKenna

Celebrity Chef Week

Hosted by Chef Penny Davidi, Food Network celebrity and US Foods Culinary Specialist, the week was set for a spectacular culinary experience with Penny, Melissa D’Arabian, and Tregaye Fraser. The first of my culinary adventures was Chef Penny’s dinner at Danzante Restaurant. This exclusive 5 course dinner and beverage pairing by Penny was amazing.

Chef Penny Davidi’s 5 Course Dinner

First Course: Apricot glazed seared lobster tail on brioche toast over grilled apricot dusted with toasted pistachios. Originally the menu was going to feature peaches but Penny changed it to the more locally available apricot. The flavor combination of sweet and nutty really set the tone for the whole meal.

Second Course: Cream of asparagus soup. I love asparagus in any form. Cream of asparagus in particular is something that my grandmother always made, so I won’t lie when I say that I was a little worried to have Chef Penny sit next to me while I ate this dish. Earlier in the day, her mom had taught us how to make Tahdig (Persian Rice). The soup was delicious and reminded me of those my mom made for me as a kid, always served with a side of rice that I would then mix into the soup. As I was enjoying my soup, I cautiously waited for Chef Penny to start talking to someone else in the group so I could add rice to my soup. It sounds silly now, but I had never hung out with a famous chef before and didn’t want her to think that I was insulting her dish. Well… she saw me add it. And she LOVED that I did, much to my relief! She told me how her mom would do the same as she herself scooped some of the tahdig into her bowl of soup.

loreto, mexico, baja sur, mexican food, CircaWanderlust, Circa Wanderlust, Ess Mckn, Stephanie Hames, Stephanie McKenna, Stephanie Hames McKenna, Tim McKenna, Penny Davidid, Chef Penny

Pairing: L.A. Cetto Chenin Blanc 2014, Valle de Guadalupe

Third Course: Jicama and grapefruit salad on colorful radish slivers with champagne vinaigrette. Jicama and grapefruit are both ingredients that have always intimidated me. I always want to try to cook with them but it never turns out right so seeing this simple and delicious presentation inspired me to replicate the recipe when I got home!

Forth Course: Filet Mignon topped with a red wine sauce with grilled shrimp on a creamy cauliflower puree, glazed baby carrots and roasted beets. I am a big fan of roasted vegetables, so for me, the beets stole the show! Everything else was incredibly delicious. But I have never been able to get roasted beets just right, so for me that was pretty remarkable. The little wins, I know.

Pairing: Roganto “Piccolo” 2014, Valles de Guadalupe & San Jacinto (Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc, Merlot)

Fifth Course: Dulce de Leche souffle. Dulce de leche anything is amazing, so obviously I was a fan!

Other Activities for Chef Week

Chef Tregaye and Chef Melissa also had dinners that week later in the week. I wasn’t there to taste, but heard that there was some AMAZING food that didn’t disappoint.

Aside from each chef’s dinner at various restaurants on the property there are various Chef Week activities to check out. Chef Tregaye joined forces with Chef Penny for a couple of poolside demonstrations, one of which involved taquitos!

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