TULALIP — Chef Perry Mascitti and sommelier Tommy Thompson believe one event is the culmination of all other food and wine happenings every year at Tulalip Resort and Casino.
The Taste of Tulalip, a two-day celebration of food and wine, is that big occasion. The third annual event began Friday evening with a reception and dinner.
The weekend’s main course is set for Saturday from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the resort’s ballroom. Tickets to the Tulalip Grand Taste cost $85 and can be bought starting at 11:30 a.m. by the Children’s Art Gallery inside the resort.
Tulalip resort chefs plan to offer up food at the event that also features wines from 65 Washington wineries, 22 California wineries and 16 Italian wineries.
“This is Tulalip’s food and wine corner,” Thompson said. “We have people coming from the Midwest and the East Coast. The hotel sold out three months ago. It’s bonkers.”
The reception and dinner also sold out at 400 guests a month ago, Thompson said.
Friday’s six-course dinner featured eight wines that were paired with each course. Getting just the right food and wine pairings together was a challenge and required multiple tasting sessions throughout three months, Thompson added.
“You can have the coolest dish and the coolest wine but if they don’t work together than you miss the whole mark,” he said.
Author and wine consultant, Leslie Sbrocco, who hosts the award-winning PBS series, “Check, Please!,” emceed Friday’s reception and dinner.
“I’m looking forward to tasting through all those wines,” Sbrocco said about The Grand Taste. “There’s a lot of something for everyone. It will be fun all wrapped up in glass and a plate.”
Tulalip resident Rick Hansken and his wife, Linda, were at the reception Friday night. They went to last year’s event and were each looking forward to trying the Italian wines and food offered this weekend.
“The hors d’oeuvres, if they’re like last year’s, will be excellent,” he said.
People who attend today’s Grand Taste can expect to meet wine makers and see chefs preparing food in front of them, Mascitti said.
“One of the chefs is rolling fresh pasta out there and making tortellini,” he said. “That’s one example of what’s going on. They’ll be able to taste more than 20 items.”
Sbrocco and “Top Chef” alumna Carla Hall will judge the Rock-n-Roll Cooking Challenge scheduled at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Mascitti said. The contest will consist of two teams, each comprised of two chefs and one sommelier. The contest is modeled off of the television show, “Iron Chef,” but will include a wine pairing, Mascitti said. The sommelier is responsible for choosing a wine that will go with the flavors of the dish the chefs prepare.
“(The sommelier) is going to choose a wine from over 25 wine makers at the Grand Taste,” Mascitti said. “It’s going to be like a scavenger hunt for a wine that matches.”
“All Access” passes priced at $225 are sold out. Pass holders have early entrance to the Grand Taste, a VIP seminar featuring a cooking demonstration with Hall, and are admitted to a private Magnum Party with a session of high-level wine and food pairings hosted by author Kathy Casey.
Tulalip chefs plan to prepare several appetizers at the party from the Seattle-based celebrity chef’s cookbook, “Sips and Apps.”
Casey said that while she has dined at Tulalip Resort and Casino restaurants before, this is her first time attending The Taste of Tulalip. “We’re going to be drinking wine and having fun,” Casey said. “It’s nice to see a big food and wine event like this in the Northwest.”
Hall walked into the Tulalip Resort and Casino for the first time Friday.
“This energy is so nice, I can’t explain it,” she said. “I always talk about how I want my food to be like a hug, but coming in here is like a hug.”
The day’s soggy and windy weather was a plus for her, Hall added.
“I wonder how many cups of clam chowder I can have while I’m here,” she said.
The Taste of Tulalip also is a chance to support a local charity. This year, $5,000 from event proceeds was donated to the Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington Chapter.
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; email@example.com.