Get your food fix: 7th Annual Sample the Sierra comes to South Shore on Sept. 17 |

Get your food fix: 7th Annual Sample the Sierra comes to South Shore on Sept. 17

Autumn Whitney
Sample the Sierra returns to Bijou Community Park on Saturday, Sept. 17.
Courtesy / Matt Morning |

If you go ...

What: 7th annual Sample the Sierra

When: Saturday, Sept. 17, noon

Where: Bijou Community Park

Tickets: $30-$40


Food — everyone loves it. But what people seem to love even more is locally sourced food. This Saturday, join in celebration of the growing South Shore culinary scene with the seventh annual Sample the Sierra event, held at Bijou Community Park from noon to 5 p.m.

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The farm-to-fork festival promotes a regional diet by offering 20 booths, each featuring one winery, distillery or brewery, one restaurant and one farm for paired food and drink unique to the region.

“The festival is a lot about building partnerships between restaurants, wineries, distilleries, breweries and farmers. People are sourcing ingredients down the hill or next door so we can have a sustainable restaurant scene up here, and you know where your food is coming from,” Shannon Earley of Weidinger PR said.

For $40, attendees have the opportunity to sample regional items from various booths. Local eateries such as Cold Water Brewery & Grill, Cafe Fiore and Riva Grill will showcase El Dorado County’s resources, which enable the establishments to craft their unique menus.

“It’s all about people learning where you can get your food and produce fresh on a regular basis,” Earley said.

Don’t miss the festival’s Sierra Chef Challenge, in which three local chefs face off in an Iron Chef-type showdown to see who can create the best dish with a mystery box of ingredients.

This year’s competitors are Cold Water Brewery and Grill’s Chef Justin Kaplan, Mirabelle Lake Tahoe’s Chef Kenneth Druly and Chef Jimi Nakamatsu, who recently completed a four-year stint as executive chef of Kalani’s Restaurant. Kaplan won the title in 2015 and looks to capture it for the second consecutive year.

In addition to the culinary goings-on, live music from local bands and live demonstrations from artists will also spruce up the festival.

Prepare for Saturday’s event with a Pop-Up Dinner designed by Chef Clint Jolly, who won “Chopped: Restaurant Impossible” earlier this year. The four-course meal features Fig and Manchego Brûlée, Butter Poached Crawfish, Rancho Llano Seco Porchetta and more.

“My favorite dish [on the menu] is the entree — the porchetta. Mostly because I saw the whole operation where the hogs were raised and processed. Driving back to the ranch, I can’t wait to cook it for Friday.

“To me the most important thing we can do as chefs, besides putting food on a plate, is establishing the connection from a client to where the food comes from. In an ideal world, guests will come order a meal and understand every step that went into preparing the meal,” Jolly said.

The dinner is Friday, Sept. 16, at 6 p.m. at Park Prime in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Tickets are available for $75.

Sample the Sierra’s Pop-Up Dinner and farm-to-fork festival highlight the start of Tahoe South Restaurant Week, which takes place from Sept. 16-23 and offers fixed menu items and special deals throughout the week.

“We’re really growing as a culinary scene in South Lake Tahoe, so it gives a nice taste of the region,” Earley said.

Sample the Sierra tickets are offered to adults for $40, under 21 for $30 and free to children 3 years old and younger.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

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