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Kathy Ellis grew up in a time where ‘cooking’ was opening cans, broiling a steak, and making salads with iceberg lettuce and little else. Veggies were boiled and TV dinners were a staple. Her mother was a good cook but because her dad was a meat and potato kind of guy she kept it simple. So, the extent of her cooking lessons at home was limited, but starting around the age of seven, she was compelled to cook. She’d watch the Galloping Gourmet and Julia Child and then make something, usually with Bisquick. At 16 she had her first dinner party: a turkey dinner with all the fixings for 13 friends. She was a sous chef for a French deli and imported cheese store while working toward her BA degree in psychology. After that she fell into her career as a child, marriage and family therapist but continued with her love of cooking. As a hobby, she started a tiny company selling flavored vinegar that she made (all county fair best of show winners!), dried tomatoes from the garden, and spice blends.
For 35 years as a therapist she’s worked with people of all ages and all walks of life. At times food was a part of the conversation. She learned how food is dealt with in people’s lives on an individual and personal level. And, of course, we know tradition, cultural and family influence shapes what we eat.

Now that she’s retiring as a therapist and moving to Italy, she’s starting a new career in food and photography. She also launched a new radio show where she talks about a variety of things, from how to be happier, lose some stress, and ways to better enjoy life (which for her includes cooking and food).

Kathy will be hosting the Writing session TASTE - Putting Flavor into Words on Saturday at 3:30 PM.

Grand Sponsor UC Davis is known for cutting-edge research and teaching related to wine, its technologically advanced Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery Building, and its community gateway, the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. In fact, some people point to just two degrees of separation between UC Davis’ Department of Viticulture and Enology and anyone in the wine world. Join the UC Davis FacebookTwitter and Instagram communities.

For more than 80 years, UC Davis has driven innovation in grape growing and winemaking for California and the world, from contributions to the science of grapes and wine to training future wine-industry leaders.

The Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis blazed that wine trail by utilizing a balance of art and science: introducing modern sanitation in the 1950s, crafting the first standardized lexicon for wine with the debut of the Wine Aroma Wheel in the 1980s and developing stainless steel tanks, controlled temperature fermentations and pest-resistant grapes.

Then, in 2001, famous California wine producer Robert Mondavi gave a personal gift to UC Davis to establish the Robert Mondavi Institute, providing a point of convergence for growers, scientists and enthusiasts who are intent upon enhancing the quality of life for all through wine, brewing and food science.

Of course, with UC Davis, sustainability is always front and center. Right now, the viticulture and enology department is developing self-cleaning fermentors capable of recycling 90 percent of its water. The goal: affordable technology and alternative practices that use less than one gallon of water to produce one gallon of wine.

Video: Learn more about sustainable winemaking and see inside the Robert Mondavi Institute.

However, it’s not only the art and science of winemaking that UC Davis excels at–it’s also the business. The Wine Executive Program at the Graduate School of Management has been growing strong for almost two decades, bringing wine industry executives together to discover more about growing and marketing their business in a constantly shifting landscape. Additionally, UC Davis Extension’s Winemaking programs offer the general public and wine execs continuing education on everything from tastings to technology.


We’re excited to transport our excursion guests from the bustle of downtown Sacramento to the bucolic scenery of Clarksburg wine country, only 20 minutes south of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Here, Sacramento’s regional focus on Farm to Fork takes shape with Grape to Glass for a full ‘Farm to Table’ experience. Traveling along rural roads with a narrated excursion, you will discover beautiful landscapes, quaint wineries and tasting rooms in Clarksburg, “the gem of the Delta”home to some of California’s premiere wine grapes.

At our first stop, Wilson Vineyards, you’ll meet a family who has been farming for four generations. They are committed to producing the highest quality fruit for all grape varietals because they know that premium fruit is essential to great wines.  Our next visit will be the modern wine production facilities of Clarksburg Wine Company, located at the Old Sugar Mill, a historic 1934 property rich in stories as a sugar beet processing plant turned cooperative wine ‘residence’ for eleven diverse wineries and tasting rooms. Here we will meet other vintners and winemakers in a program designed to engage the senses. Throughout the Farm to Table experience, enjoy one-on-one conversations with our winemaker hosts, discover unexpected food and wine pairings and learn about this historic region from vintners such as Steve Heringer, Sr., one of Clarksburg’s original pioneers whose highly acclaimed family vineyard produces 24 different wine grape varietals. Nibbles will be served along the way, and for lunch, an innovative menu will highlight seasonal favorites paired with the award winning wines of Clarksburg Wine Company, Due Vigne,Elevation Ten and Three Wine Company; varietals are sourced from Clarksburg, El Dorado, Amador, Napa, Sonoma and more. The Clarksburg region is the perfect setting for consistent, quality wine grape growing and our IFBC guests will return to the hotel sated with the best wines and experience of the Delta.

Not registered for the excursion? Don't worry! The same wineries above will be pouring at The Taste of Sacramento Culinary Fair on Friday!

Uncrowded and unspoiled, Clarksburg features beautiful landscapes, country roads, quaint wineries and tasting rooms that transport visitors to an entirely different environment.

The Clarksburg appellation is home to some of California’s premiere wine grapes. With more than 35 varietals, the region is now recognized statewide and beyond for consistently delivering quality grapes and wines.  Our growers are reliable and honest, consistently providing quality wine and grapes and creative solutions.



We are thrilled to announce award-winning cookbook author, chef and instructor John Ash as this year's IFBC Keynote Speaker! In addition to being a renowned chef, author, and food and wine educator, many refer to Chef John Ash as the “Father of Wine Country Cuisine”. In 1980 he opened his namesake restaurant, John Ash & Company, in Santa Rosa, CA. It was the first restaurant in Northern California wine country to focus on local, seasonal ingredients used to create dishes that complemented the wines being made in the region. It continues to be critically acclaimed today.

Currently John travels the world teaching cooking classes to both home cooks and professionals. His passion for teaching has been rewarded most recently in May of 2014, when Cooking for Solutions, a sustainable seafood event held annually at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, honored John as “Seafood Educator of the Year”. In 2008 he was voted “Cooking School Teacher of the Year” by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He still holds true to his philosophy of cooking with ingredients that are ethically grown, created locally and in season. And for John, wine is always considered an essential part of the flavors of a meal.

John’s latest cookbook, Cooking Wild: More than 150 Recipes for Eating Close to Nature was just published this month (May 2016). His fourth cookbook, Culinary Birds: The Ultimate Poultry Cookbook, was published in October of 2013, and won a James Beard award in 2014. John Ash Cooking One-on-One: Private Lessons in Simple Contemporary Food from a Master Teacher was published spring 2004. It also won a 2005 James Beard award. He has authored two other books: From the Earth to the Table: John Ash’s Wine Country Cuisine and American Game Cooking. The former was awarded the IACP awards for Best American Cookbook and the Julia Child Cookbook of the Year. Chronicle Books released a completely revised and updated version of From the Earth to the Table in 2007. He is an occasional contributor to culinary magazines such as Fine Cooking and Eating Well.

John has co-hosted The Good Food Hour radio show for more than 27 years on KSRO (1350 AM) in Northern California. He was also host of two TV shows on the Food Network. He is an adjunct instructor at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in the Napa Valley.

John’s passion for teaching is matched only by his passionate voice on sustainable food issues. He served for many years on the Board of the Chef’s Collaborative, a national organization of chef’s committed to sustainable and ethical food issues. He has also served on the Board of Advisors of Seafood Watch, an educational initiative for sustainable seafood by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Follow John on Facebook, Twitter @JohnAshCo and Instagram

Nicole Aloni

Chef, cookbook author, and life coach Nicole Aloni lives, cooks and coaches in Seattle, WA where her career combines her two passions—coaching and food.

She received her certified professional coaching training from the Coaches Training Institute of California.  As a certified Life and Business Coach (CPCC), whose work is science-based, intuitive and—most importantly—actionable, she offers a unique approach to coaching called Recipe for Life.

This approach is built around three schools of knowledge that support your development of a balanced, fulfilled life. The insights built upon this foundation give you the clarity to really know what is right for you — and the resiliency to go after your vision with enthusiasm and consistencyNicole’s work blends:

•   Coaching skills and strategies

•   Modern neuroscience training

•   Wisdom of contemplative traditions

Her coaching services are offered in the following models:

1.     One-to-One Coaching for individuals; or Blended Coaching/Consulting for food professionals;

2.     Her uniquely-designed Culinary Team Building Program;

3.     Week long retreats and 1-day retreats for businesses and individuals.

Nicole is also a professional chef (her culinary degree is from Paris), cookbook author and consultant on culinary topics. She owned one of California’s largest catering companies, catered events like the Academy Awards and the Olympics, and simultaneously manufactured a line of gourmet food products for national concerns like Trader Joe’s, Neiman-Marcus, Larry’s Markets, etc.. As a food writer and researcher, Nicole is deeply committed to creating a sustainable food system.

Finally, she is currently putting the finishing touches on a podcast series entitled, Recipe for Life, and her one-woman show entitled, Le Grand Fromage. Her books from major publishers include The Backyard Bartender, Secrets From a Caterer’s Kitchen and Cooking for Company.

Nicole will lead the IS BIGGER ALWAYS BETTER…? Get Off the Treadmill and Find The “Flow” in Your Career session on Sunday morning.

Follow Nicole on Facebook and Twitter @NicoleAloni



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Bloggers, Food Writers & Cookbook Authors

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