Ashland’s Place on the Culinary Map: Travel Ashland’s Culinary Festival 2019
Ashland is known for its many desirable features. The the picturesque hill and mountain views surrounding the Valley; the beautiful parks; the lively and unmistakable downtown center. Then there’s SOU and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival bringing creative minds and tourism to the city every year. Ashland, for all intents and purposes, appears to be the center of arts and culture in the Rogue Valley. And, within that statement, is also food.
There are over 100 restaurants in Ashland, each offering a bite from about every corner of the world—and the Ashland Culinary Festival, produced by Travel Ashland, shows the world just how good and varied it is. For the 13th year running, the Ashland Culinary Festival showcases the cuisine, talent, and bounty of the area.
The event begins Thursday evening, November 7, with a VIP Top Chef Dinner that covers all the bases with local cheese sampling, specialty appetizers, wine tasting, and courses prepared by former winners of the Ashland Culinary Festival’s Top Chef competition Neil Clooney, Franco Console, Chandra Corwin, David Georgeson, and Skye Elder. This dinner is already sold out this year, but keep it in mind for 2020.
Friday evening is the real kick off, with drinks and small plates offered as the Mixology (cocktail) competition commences. This year, 12 mixologists from top local bars compete in a four-round competition of challenges to name a victor. Jeffery Morganthaler, renowned bartender and author of The Bar Book, and Drinking Distilled, will serve as a judge this year.
Saturday and Sunday present the bulk of the festival. On both days, the large ballroom of Ashland Hills Hotel and Suites will be filled with vendors, craftspeople, and artisanal culinary creations, also with a score of workshops available all over the city, as well as in the event space at the hotel. Ashland Co-op will provide a workshop on Texas Brisket. Lithia Wine Garden will host an organic wine education class. Hearsay Restaurant will even house a workshop titled “Craft Cocktails and CBD Infused Bitters.”
Last but very definitely not least will be the Top Chef competition. True to style for other cooking competitions, each round will present four talented chefs with a challenge to rise above. There will be a bountiful table of local ingredients and items to pull from, a theme, and a mystery ingredient introduced to throw ingenuity into high gear. Thanks to a set of professional mini-kitchens created by Cook’s Kitchen for the event, attendees will get to watch the heat in person as each chef steps up to cook their way to victory.
The Junior Chef Competition runs Saturday morning. The winner of this competition earns a scholarship. Saturday afternoon and all-day Sunday brings on the Top Chef competition. These chefs are the best of Ashland, and competition is bound to be fierce. Already, four of the winning chefs from the previous 12 years of the Ashland Culinary Festival have gone on to win Iron Chef Oregon.
This year will be welcoming another celebrity-status judge, Chef Shaun O’Neale, author of My Modern American Table, and winner of Masterchef Season 7.
Ashland Culinary Festival
November 7 – 10
Ashland Hills Hotel and Suites, 2525 Ashland St, Ashland