I want to apologize to you for going silent for the last couple of weeks. I have completely ignored you, my writing and updating my blog. As many of you may have noticed, I have been planning the Eat, Drink and Be Vegan! Benefit for Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch over the last 2 months or so. Chef Joseph Panarello, Executive Chef for City Winery – Napa, came up with the amazing idea to host an all vegan four course dinner. He and his General Manager, Scott generously offered to do this all for the cost of labor and food and to allow me to donate any remaining proceeds to one of my favorite local charities. Of course, that was a tough decision to make since I volunteer for three different local animal welfare groups – The Napa County Animal Shelter, Napa Humane and the Wildlife Rescue Center of Napa County. And I am friends with Monica Stevens, the Founder of Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch. I have to admit that the fact that Monica is a fellow vegan did absolutely sway my decision to make this Benefit all about JARR! I have thrown a pretty awesome party or two in my day but I am no professional event planner. However, after living in Napa for over three and a half years and often being met with lukewarm reception from some of the chefs and winemakers, this offer was something that I could not pass up. I was just excited beyond belief! I felt that this is what Napa needed to bring change to its gastronomic attitudes. If a local Chef, who is by no means a vegan Chef, can offer an amazing meal that everyone can enjoy, my hope was that this would open their minds and menus to more compassionate, plant based options. Chef Panarello was in charge of the menu and I was tasked with the rest. I came up with the title and quickly wrote up a description of the event so City Winery could add it to their website. Then I began contacting everyone I knew, and many that I didn’t, asking for wine and silent auction donations. This was wonderful but had a bit of a challenging twist since all items – food, wine, jewelry…had to be vegan-friendly. I wasn’t daunted though and got to work.
Over the course of the next six weeks, I was absolutely blown away by the generosity of Napa Valley. I received cases of wine from Tin Barn Vineyards, 750 Wines, Luna Vineyards and Topaz to pair with each course. Luna Vineyards even threw in a VIP tasting for 4 on top of the wine donation. I received passes to the 2015 Napa Valley Film Festival generously donated by Marc and Brenda Lhormer. Sweetie Pies Bakery offered a gift certificate for their delicious vegan cupcakes, cookies and muffins while Melodi with Obsessive Confection Disorder provided a sampler of her AMAZING vegan sweet treats. Karen MacNeil, the Director of the Wine Program at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley, gave a signed copy of her book “The Wine Bible”. And the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone donated a Weekend Wine Enthusiast Class for two. Mercedes-Benz of Fairfield gave a Mercedes-Benz for the weekend so the auction winner could enjoy their wine tasting weekend in style! Or for those who wanted to be chauffeured around the Valley instead, Wine Country Limousine offered their services. Kim Beller donated a gorgeous Silpada cuff bracelet and her kind words of encouragement. Stacey with Napa Valley Poop Patrol volunteered to pick up the family’s dog poop for 12 weeks while Taryn’s Traveling Pet Spa threw in a spa day for the family pooch! Not only was Miyoko’s artisan cheese featured on the menu but she also donated a sampler of her delicious nut cheeses. Brenda, with Simple Bliss, provided a spa package to help melt the stress away! And Doug, with Napa Valley Coffee Roasting, gave a gift box of fresh, roasted coffee and mugs. And to top it all off, City Winery not only was providing the entire event at cost but also threw in 2 tickets to one of their many concerts! Frankly, I am consumed by gratitude while I type!
With the help of Monica and her marketing crew and City Winery, we got the word out. You have probably seen it listed on every calendar and online events page in the Bay Area. However, even with all of this generosity and support we were not able to sell enough tickets. City Winery had to make a business decision and cancel the Event. So, after picking up all those generous donations, I have to turn around and take them all back! Needless to say my level of disappointment is high. But I’m going to do what any vegan does when they need to replenish and recharge. I’m heading out of Napa and heading into San Francisco to an all vegan restaurant to eat my cares away. And then, I’ll come home, dust myself off and start over again!
Thanks for being with me through the highs and lows of living in a non-vegan city and as always…eat, drink and be vegan!