Sample the Sierra farm-to-fork festival returns to South Lake Tahoe | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Sample the Sierra farm-to-fork festival returns to South Lake Tahoe

Tasty food, craft beers, bold wines … does life get much better?

It does when it's all local and enjoyed on a perfect late summer day at Lake Tahoe.

Take all this together and you get the annual Sample the Sierra farm-to-fork festival, which returns to South Shore Saturday, Sept. 15.

To all of those with functioning taste buds: You don't want to miss this event.

Why?

Because $40 ($45 on the day of the event) gets you four hours of unlimited food and drink. No, that's not a typo. (It's even cheaper if you forgo the drink … but why would you want to do that?)

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You get to stuff your face all day for the same cost as most places around here charge for a cheeseburger and a beer.

And for that reasonable cost you get a smorgasbord of options. Numerous vendors will be present serving up delicious bites and pouring some of the best local wines and beers. In total there are more than 20 pairings to try.

With few exceptions, Sample the Sierra hosts all the best restaurants on South Shore, and the competitive nature of the event seems to crank up the quality despite being forced out of a conventional kitchen. Just thinking about those pork belly bites on a steamed bun from The Lake House, which along with Bella Grace Vineyards won the 2017 Best Tasting Experience, is enough to make your mouth water.

And speaking of competition, attendees have a chance to watch some of the best local chefs face off in the Sierra Chefs Challenge. It's like watching an episode of "Chopped" minus the pretentious judges and overdramatic music.

This year the competitive cooking challenge features Patrick Harrity, executive chef at Cold Water Brewery & Grill and defending Sierra Chef Challenge champion; Lonny Huot, assistant executive chef at Edgewood Tahoe; Glenn Simpson, chef at Tallac Catering Company; and Jimi Nakamatsu, executive chef at The Lake House. Four enter, only one will be crowned the Sierra Chef Challenge champion. The contest runs from 1-3:15 p.m.

Aside from the food and booze, the event also features a bunch of local vendors featuring some really cool Tahoe-centric stuff. This could quite possibly be the best way to knock out that awful Christmas shopping.

Adding to the atmosphere, local performers will take the stage through the day starting with The Roemers. Worn Out Welcome also will perform later in the afternoon.

BE PREPARED

In all, this is one of the best events of the year. It has all the necessary components, including good people. Seriously, how could you not be in a fantastic mood at an event like this?

With that in mind, you want to make sure you can enjoy the event from start to finish. Eat and drink every penny of that admission cost. Here's what to do:

Buy your ticket before the day of or get there early. Tickets do sell out, and the line to get in can be extremely long. The last thing you want to do is wait in line, get to the front, then find out you're not getting in. That's exactly what hell is like.

This isn't a football game or night of bar-hopping. You don't need to pregame. Load up on local beer and wine at the event, and leave the Coors Light and Franzia in the fridge.

Consider catching a ride to the event: You don't have to worry about imbibing too much and you don't have to deal with the hassle of parking. Lyft, Uber, Chariot, taxi, carpool (assuming you have a sober driver), walking … any of these are highly recommended. Biking is another option (and one that event organizers highly encourage). The event features secure parking for bikes, thanks in part to a partnership with the Lake Tahoe Bike Coalition.

Make sure you have plenty of room in your stomach. Consider a light dinner Friday and light breakfast Saturday (let's be honest … skipping breakfast isn't a bad idea).

While you want to minimize food consumption heading into the event, you'll want to do the opposite when it comes to water. The fact is you're about to jump into several hours of day drinking. Temperature doesn't matter … at least not that much. If you want to enjoy the event through to the end, and you want to avoid being a complete zombie Saturday evening, then make sure you're hydrated.

Bring sunscreen. That's an obvious one. Sunburn is a sure sign of stupidity.

Lastly, be adventurous. It can be very, very, very tempting to hangout at one or a couple booths. Maybe you're hooked on that beer or convinced there can't be anything more delicious than the morsel you're devouring. Don't fall into that trap. This event is full of surprises, and you don't want to miss out. Also pay attention to the cues: If one booth has an incredibly long line, they're likely either serving up something really great, giving away something free or both. Either way you don't want to miss out.

For information about Sample the Sierra, visit http://www.samplethesierra.com.