Mammoth Food and Wine Experience 2016

Another year, another Mammoth Food and Wine Experience in the books. 

Rock Creek Lake

Rock Creek Lake

I look forward to this event each year. The Experience benefits the Mammoth Lakes Foundation. From their website:

Mammoth Lakes Foundation is dedicated to supporting higher education and cultural enrichment in the Eastern Sierra. Successes include:

  • Supporting the establishment of Cerro Coso Community College/Mammoth Campus
  • Owning and operating a state-of-the-art student apartment facility
  • Owning and operating a 100-seat performing arts theatre and providing a season of live theatre productions and cultural programming
  • Providing 600+ college scholarships for Cerro Coso College to date to local students since 2000
  • The Foundation holds 40 acres of land for future community benefit in the desirable South Gateway corridor of town
  • Future plans include creating a culinary school and cultural center on the Mammoth Campus

Paradise Patio Party Couscous Recipe

Paradise, California. 

There is such a place. It's just off Highway 395 nestled in at 5,200 feet. I've been to a few patio parties there in the last couple years. For this party, I prepared a couscous salad, along with my tri-tip beef skewers. 

Here's the recipe for the couscous salad:

Cooked Couscous
4 cups Couscous
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup olive oil
Follow package instructions for the cooking of the couscous.

After couscous is cooked, let cool on an oiled large sheet tray so that the couscous can be worked over by hand. Using your hands (kitchen gloves make this easier and less messy), make sure the couscous is coated in the olive oil. Break up any clumps of couscous with your hands. This will prevent it from clumping up later if you are making your couscous in advance and it sits. Couscous should be “light and fluffy” not clumpy and starchy. 

For the dressing
1 small handful of fresh mint, chiffonade
4 red bell peppers, minced
10 green onions, minced
½ cup Olive oil
½  cup Rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Ras el Hanout (to be found at places like Trader Joe’s and Cost Plus)
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl and allow ingredients to marinate together for an hour. This will help soften the edge of the bell peppers and green onions.

Combine Couscous and Dressing

Combine the cooled couscous and the dressing together in the large bowl. You can serve immediately or hold for a couple hours at room temperature.

If I may be so bold, grilled tri tip skewers and couscous salad pair really well with my Cabernet Cuvee. Yes, that is a picture of several red wines kept cool on ice. It's 100 degrees in Paradise at 5pm in the summer, I wouldn't want to drink my red wine either if it were "room temperature"!


Brunch, Lunch and a Wine Dinner

It's been just over two weeks since I've settled into McGee Creek and the East Side (a.k.a. Mammoth Lakes) and my summertime cooking gig.

I've visited an organic farm, Apple Hill Ranch near Bishop, got invited to a BBQ in Paradise, made an apricot dressing for the first time, co-hosted a wine dinner and cooked several meals at McGee Creek (and poured a lot of wine).

Savory scone, with country gravy and a runny egg

Savory scone, with country gravy and a runny egg

Bowl of Chicken Pho

Bowl of Chicken Pho

Winemaker David Scheidt snacking on eggplant parmigiano scraps

Winemaker David Scheidt snacking on eggplant parmigiano scraps

Chicken and eggplant parmigiano over polenta

Chicken and eggplant parmigiano over polenta

83 Dishes means...someone has to do dishes before we serve dessert

83 Dishes means...someone has to do dishes before we serve dessert

Cooking in Mammoth Lakes this Summer

It's going to be a great summer in the Eastern Sierra!

I'm cooking all summer long, starting Friday, June 12 in Crowley Lake as the guest chef at the McGee Creek Lodge, just south of Mammoth Lakes. As many of you know, I love being on the East Side of California and I also love to cook, so why not combine them, right?

David Scheidt, Winemaker and Cook

David Scheidt, Winemaker and Cook

I've been no stranger to The Lodge and East Siders' the last two years, cooking on and off; everything from the El Super Burrito to fresh pastas and slow cooked pork barbecue. I've even widened my own culinary horizons creating vegan and gluten-free dishes. Lots of these favorites will return during the summer, especially the El Super Burrito.

So what's new? I'm committing to Fresh Pasta Friday, which means I'm making and rolling fresh pasta dough every single week, no exceptions! So expect to see ravioli, pappardelle, tagliatelle, agliotti and gnocchi a lot.

Pappardelle Bolognese

Pappardelle Bolognese

Garden fresh is another goal. I was able to use the resources right outside my kitchen door last year, lettuce, tomato, squash, herbs, whatever else I can get and I'm going to do it again for guests all summer.

Thirdly,  brunch!!! Think savory scones, fresh frittata, chicken fried steak and my personal favorite Uova al purgatorio or Eggs in Red Sauce. Hearty food, fresh food, great food. And yes...there will be more house cured bacon.

Don't forget, live music every Saturday night at the McGee Creek Lodge (which is why I've included the music schedule through 4th of July weekend). I hope to see you this summer on the East Side.

Summer Dinner and Sunday Brunch Hours
Starting June 12 in Crowley Lake at The McGee Creek Lodge

Friday 5:00 - 9:00pm
Saturday 5:00 - 9:00pm
Sunday Brunch 10:00am - 3:00pm

Live Music Schedule
Music Starts at 6:30pm

Greg and Gilly            June 6
Double Coyote            June 13
Cruiseship Volunteers        June 20
Driftwood Creek            June 27
Good Medicine    (Friday)    July 3
Bodie 601    (Saturday)    July 4

Sunday Dinner at Lake Mary, Mammoth Lakes

Cooking for two people is fun and easy. Cooking for 12 people is a challenge. Cooking for 40+ people and then transporting the food to a remote location is like running a mini-restaurant for the night.

On the last evening of the 2014 Mammoth Food and Wine Experience, T.L., Brother John and I cooked for 40 people at the Pokonobe Resort on Lake Mary.


For our last night in Mammoth, we went with our strength...Italian food...which translates into Pizza, Pasta and Grilled Veggies.

John cooked his specialty, a Spring/Summer fusilli pasta dish complete with pancetta, finely minced and slowly cooked in butter garlic, onion, and red peppers and finished with fine herbs. In addition, my brother really enjoyed his new toy, the flat top grill.

T.L. who has worked several dinners with me before, cooked nearly 20 pounds of pasta that night, roasted about 30 pounds of vegetables, and was our utility player for the day working different prep and finishing stations.

I worked on the various sauces, doughs, pizza, dessert, seasonings and final tasting, along with logistics with our culinary liason, Dan Molnar from the Mammoth Lakes Foundation. A special thanks to Dan for his help in coordinating the evening with the Foundation and Marci Satterfield of the Pokonobe Resort at Lake Mary.

In addition to the cooking that T.L., my brother John and I did that evening, I asked a couple other locals to lend their creative talents, baking talents specifically, to the evening. Elizabeth McGuire of The East Side Bake Shop (who I cook with regularly) and duo from Mountain Cakery, Cora Coleman and Lauren Jenks. Thanks to all of you for your help in adding a sweet finishing touch to the evening.

Mammoth Burger Battle 2014

The Mammoth Food and Wine Experience 2014 in Mammoth Lakes, CA was a jam-packed event for everyone at Mastro Scheidt Cellars.


In a repeat of last year, The Best-of-the-Best Burger Battle kicked off the weekend Friday afternoon. However, this year was special, as Chef and Co-Owner Jason Hoeltzel of CJ's Grill incorporated a secret ingredient in his house-made ketchup...Mastro Scheidt Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Vinegar.

Craft Ketchup.png

This is the second year that Chef Jason and Winemaker David Scheidt have collaborated at the Mammoth Food and Wine Experience. In 2013, Jason and David paired wines with Alpers Trout, a specialty in the Eastern Sierras.

The stakes were raised this year for The Best-of-the-Best Burger Battle, as the winning Chef would qualify to compete in the World Food Championship, Best Burger Specialty, in Las Vegas later this year.


Photo Courtesy of Kendra Knight...Blue Bird Imaging

Chef Jason walked away with the First Place prize in this year's Mammoth Food and Wine Experience Burger Battle 2014 and was automatically entered in The World Food Championship. We're very pleased to have our very own Mastro Scheidt Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Vinegar play a supporting role in Chef Jason's hand-crafted ketchup.

Everyone at Mastro Scheidt Cellars wishes Jason and CJ's Grill the best of luck at the World Food Championships later this year.

The East Side Experience

While I've been looking forward toward the end of the week and the start of the Mammoth Food and Wine Experience 2014, I've already logged a few round trips over Tioga Pass this season.

I stayed in Milan for several days...( know you who are)

Disconnected from the Social Media...(Twin Lakes Campground)

Put my toes in the sand at the Beach (June Lake)

Listened to some music from Sweetwater String Band at The Mobil Mart

And of course I cooked 

Looking forward to updating everyone again in a few days...Ciao.

Fishmas Weekend in Crowley Lake

Another trip to the East Side of California...a.k.a. Mammoth Lakes for the opening weekend of trout season in the Eastern Sierra.

We were traveling heavy this trip and loaded up the F-150, as we tried out TL's latest custom BBQ. 

We also had our 1.89L Sonoma County Red Wine Jugs and custom 6-pack cases for delivery and the perfect wine to share with friends from some front-country camping and BBQ.

Naturally, we set up shop at the McGee Creek Lodge.

It snowed a little bit...(like 40 inches in Mammoth!)

I cooked...

Bluegrass Played...

People fished...

And we're looking forward to coming back again soon...

East Side, Valentine's Dinner

Back on the East Side of California for a triple whammy, Valentine's Day, Bluegrass Saturday, and SNOW!

I've got a few pictures from last night, including an OUTSTANDING Cauliflower Cheddar Custard Pie from, Elizabeth McGuire.

Mastro Scheidt Wines were featured for the Valentine's Dinner Menu, including the debut of the 2012 SuperStrada super-Tuscan wine (aka...The Ferrari), which was paired with Elizabeth's iron skillet roasted French Country pork chop and quinoa.