For Yosemite visitors used to cooking on gas stoves on crowded Camp 4 picnic tables, the Chefs' Holidays events held in the park each winter may provide a refreshing and delicious change of pace.
World-class chefs from around the country gather to both cook and teach over several sessions each lasting three days.
Guests not only get to sample the cuisine but also meet the chefs at a wine reception, learn about their cooking through instructive demonstrations and experience behind-the-scenes tours of The Ahwahnee's renowned kitchen.
Our session included a lesson from chef Donald Link of the Herbsaint Bar and Restaurant in New Orleans. His chicken and dumplings looked and tasted a good deal better than my usual freeze-dried mountain fare.
A grand finale for each session consists of a five-course gala dinner, complete with wine pairings, in The Ahwahnee Dining Room. Even the most accomplished backcountry cook couldn't compete with the delicious lobster tail, grilled swordfish, molasses-braised pork, grilled venison and maple bacon pound cake my wife and I were served.
Diners will desperately need some exercise after a mountain-sized meal like that, but what better place to take a hike or climb a rock than Yosemite Valley?
Chefs' Holidays will next take place between Jan. 10 and Feb. 4, 2016. Delaware North, the park's concessionaire, offers various packages including accommodations at either The Ahwahnee or Yosemite Lodge for prices starting at $318 per person. For more information or reservations, seeyosemitepark.com/chefs
Matt Johanson’s writing can be found atwww.mattjohanson.com