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Napa Turns `12 Days of Christmas’ Into $1,000 Star Chefs Feast

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George Mendes
Chef George Mendes of Aldea restaurant in New York. Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg

Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- The Meadowood Napa Valley, a luxury resort with three Michelin stars, has more than leaping lords planned for its culinary “Twelve Days of Christmas.”

For the fourth year, Meadowood’s festival is offering a dozen meals from top international chefs and giving some of the proceeds to Share Our Strength, a Washington-based charity that fights childhood hunger.

The 2010 menu included Wagyu beef from Masaharu Morimoto, seared scallops from Marcus Samuelsson and rib of beef from April Bloomfield.

“We want the event to be to food what the Sundance Festival is to film,” Christopher Kostow, Meadowood’s executive chef, said by phone. He plans to serve a meal including truffle-glazed veal shank on Dec. 17. “No chef has ever turned us down, and that’s amazing.”

Winemaker Antonio Buchanan of TBG Inc., a marketing firm in San Francisco and New York that he founded with his wife, said the couple bought four tickets to the $990-per-person charity event this year after attending three dinners in 2010.

“It’s heaven for a foodie and wine lover,” Buchanan said by phone. “How often do you get to experience these great chefs and wineries, and at the same time get to do something for the betterment of kids.”

Meadowood, located on a 250-acre estate in St. Helena, California, started the “Twelve Days” festival in the early 1990s as a banquet-style celebration by founding partner H. William Harlan. It was discontinued a few years later and then returned when Kostow, who earned his first Michelin star before he turned 30, became executive chef.

Regional Menus

This year, Kostow said he assembled a group of chefs to prepare dishes representing different regions of the world. The meals will be paired with wines from local vintners.

Tonight, Chicago-based master chef Curtis Duffy, who was the first chef de cuisine at Chicago’s Alinea, will serve a two-layered dish featuring Alaskan king crab, with calamansi and pickled cucumbers.

Shin Takagi, executive chef of Zeniya in Kanazawa, Japan, takes over the kitchen Thursday, followed by Sean Brock, the executive chef at Husk and McCrady’s in Charleston, South Carolina, on Friday. On Saturday the kitchen belongs to Mark Gold, who oversees the menu at Eva in Los Angeles.

Enrique Olvera from Mexico City’s Pujol will serve a multicourse meal on Dec. 16 along with wines from Gargiulo Vineyards in Oakville, California.

Red-Legged Partridge

Michelin-starred chef George Mendes of New York’s Aldea gets the honor of serving the partridge, a Scottish red-legged version, at his Dec. 13 dinner. The main course will come with cabbage, and the meal will be paired with Hunnicutt wines.

“I was attracted to the event because Share Our Strength is a great charity I support, and it was an opportunity to take my cuisine to Napa,” said Mendes, a Mediterranean specialist.

Share Our Strength will receive 20 percent of the revenue from each ticket sold. Since its inception, the event has raised $120,000 for the organization.

(The “Twelve Days of Christmas” charity dinners at Meadowood Napa Valley, 900 Meadowood Lane in St. Helena, California, runs through Dec. 17. Tickets begin at $990 on weekdays and $1,065 on weekends. Information: +1-800-458-8080 or http://www.meadowood.com/events.)

To contact the writer on this story: Patrick Cole in New York at pcole3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff in New York at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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