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Wine & Cheese in Napa Valley, California


A few years ago, I was fortunate to be selected as one of the Top 10 Amateur Chefs from over 1,600 applicants to have their grilled steak recipe compete on a Cooking Channel TV Show. Complete with the requisite expert judges, the show was hosted by James and Bobby Dean with the production crew from Rachel Ray’s show. It was held at the Beringer Vineyards Estate in Saint Helena for four days and we were put up at the wonderful River Terrace Inn directly on the Napa River.  Top prize was $25,000 which I did not win, but had a great time and a good learning experience about presentation of a food dish.

River Terrace Inn

Jamie Dean and Diane


Contestant spouses were wined and dined at many locations in Napa Valley including some shopping opportunities.  Contestants were sequestered at the Beringer Estate for interviews, makeup, and dry run throughs. Delicious meals and wine tastings were allowed for the contestants at late dinner time so that we didn’t wobble on the day set from enjoying lunchtime wines. I had my game face on with my grilling station when showtime arrived. The trip included air transportation, limousine service, hotel, meals and a generous gift card for incidentals.

Beringer Estate Fountain

George and His Grill

During the actual live contest, the spouses and gallery were treated to samples of prepared recipes from all contestants.  My recipe was a filet mignon grilled then sautéed in a sweet hot mustard sauce with dill, lemon juice, and cooked egg yolk on a bed of sautéed shiitake mushrooms and thin sliced Vidalia onions.  I developed the recipe over time as my wife was my taster and told me when I needed to add a little of this or that, until I got the perfect recipe for her liking.


Images (6)
  • 041
  • Beringer Estate Fountain
  • George and His Grill
  • Jamie Dean and Diane
  • Last Day Lunch
  • River Terrace Inn

George G

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