Charlie Palmer, whose many award-winning restaurants include Healdsburg’s Dry Creek Kitchen, launched a small festival here six years ago revolving around his two great loves: pork and pinot noir.
Next month, Palmer’s Pigs and Pinot weekend, which is now so popular it’s practically synonymous with his adopted hometown, is set to run for its seventh year March 23-24.
To spice things up, Palmer has added a surprise — pizza — to the event’s culinary theme.
“Pizza is a great idea for an event like this,” Palmer said in an email. “It’s the perfect canvas for tons of variations of pork.”
To accomplish his goal, the entrepreneur-chef — a husband who has fathered four boys raised in Healdsburg — has teamed up with restaurateur and television personality Guy Fieri, host of the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”
Fieri, who runs a mobile pizza truck with a 22-foot-long pizza oven, will be on hand with other notable chefs — such as Michael Mina of Michael Mina San Francisco, “Top Chef” finalist Casey Thompson and Michael White of Marea in New York City — to create pizza-pork-pinot noir-inspired cuisine this year.
“The one thing that has probably stopped us in the past, is in order to crank out (pizza) for 550 people, you need a giant pizza oven,” Palmer added. “Guy’s truck was a perfect fit.”
The two highly successful chefs, who have mingled in culinary circles in the past, have a history stemming from an unlikely place: the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport.
“I have met Guy many times at food events,” Palmer stated. “But we actually run into each other quite often at the Santa Rosa airport. Guy lives nearby, and with all the traveling we both do, we often catch up while waiting for flights.”
The event, which is held at the Hotel Healdsburg — located 60 miles north of San Francisco on Healdsburg’s historic town square — will feature culinary creations by more than 10 chefs and pinot noir from more than 60 wineries, including local appellations from the Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley.