By Bonnie Glidewell

All photo credits given to Graham Lewis Fine Photography 


For the past nine years, the artisan and culinary hub of Southern Oregon, known as Ashland, has celebrated their bounty of food, drink, talent and creativity. This year over 30 mouthwatering vendors offered samples and innovative culinary workshops to expand both local and visiting palettes. The Ashland Culinary Festival will be held on November 3rd – 6th, with the headquarters being the Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites. The four day event will showcase 12 extraordinary local chefs as they compete for the title of “Top Chef”, using local produce and a secret key ingredient and challenge.

Sample and purchase food artisans, farms, restaurants, award winning wineries and breweries. New this year will be the Ultimate Top Chef Dinner on Thursday evening, November 3rd.  Friday enjoy wine tours, an evening kick-off event including food demos, a mixology competition, live music and samplings.  On Saturday, witness the first Junior Chef Competition at the Festival where local junior chefs compete for the Junior Chef title and a chance to shadow our Festival Judges.  On Sunday, learn all about brunch in Ashland at a new workshop sponsored by the Ashland B&B Network.  It’s a weekend you won’t want to miss!


2016 Competing Restaurants and Chefs:

Tom Bates​ - Bella Union
Mario Chavez – Onyx Restaurant & Bar
Javier Cruz – Standing Stone Brewing Co.
Josh Dorcak – Scarpetta (2015 Top Chef)​
Skye Elder - Brickroom
Dustin Farley – Porters - Dining at the Depot
Dale Fowler - Regency Grill
Morgan McKelvey - Smithfields
James Moreau - Wiley's Trattoria
Serena Murno - Liquid Assets​
Will Shine – Hearsay Restaurant
Shay Spear – Neuman Hotel Group (Luna Cafe & Mercantile & Larks Restaurant)

2016 Competition Judges:

Lead Emcee, Host and Head Judge
Cory Schreiber

Founder of Cooking from the Source, Wildwood Restaurant and winner of the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Pacific Northwest. Read his bio here!

Fabiola Donnelly, Creator and founder of Not Just Baked
Sweet and Savory recipes from a classically trained baker,
Not Just Baked. Portland, Oregon

Judiaann Woo​, Food + Travel + Lifestyle Consultant from Portland, Oregon
Recently named as one of Portland's "12 Must-Follow Portland Instagram Accounts" 


See below for the schedule of events as you don't wait too long to purchase your tickets. This is one tasty event you do not want to see sell out before you buy!


Ultimate Ashland Culinary Festival Top Chef Dinner on Thursday:

Enjoy a six-course dinner prepared by the amazingly talented past Top Chef Winners, with each course paired with a local wine or brew

Friday's Culinary Kickoff event:

Friday evening kickoff event includes a food demo, a new Mixology competition, live music by Doug Warren, samplings by the Bear Creek Wine Trail, small bites and more

Hands-On Culinary workshops offered Saturday are:

  • Branson's Chocolates presents: All Things Chocolate! with Deena Branson
  • The Health Benefits and "How To" of Bone Broth with Kristen Lyon
  • French Comice Pear Tart & Holiday Baking workshop sponsored by Denika Voget of Coquette Bakery
  • NEW this year: 2016 Junior Chef Competition

Hands-On Culinary workshops offered Sunday are:

  • Blending Bar Edible Beauty sponsored by Zagorska
  • How to Taste Wine like an Expert and The 6 Elements of Wine and Food Pairing with Wine Consultant, Chris Clough and Wine Maker, Gill Anderson of Platt Anderson Cellars
  • Homemade Oregon Granola Holiday Gift Treats with Fabiola Donnelly​ of Not Just Baked, 2016 Festival Judge
  • Stress-Free Breakfasts and Brunches sponsored by the Ashland Bed & Breakfast Network


What vendors will be there to “Sip, Sample, & Taste” you ask?

  • Belle Fiore Winery, Estate and Vineyard
  • Bend Distillery (Crater Lake Spirits)
  • Branson's Chocolates
  • Coquette Bakery (Sunday only)
  • Figgy's Food Truck
  • Grizzly Peak Winery
  • Heavenly Fire Salsa
  • Kia's Ktichen
  • ​Kriselle Cellars
  • Latinality - Latin Marinades & Sauces
  • Laurelwood Brewing Co.
  • Naked Winery
  • Platt Anderson Cellars​
  • Roxy Ann Winery
  • Season Cellars​
  • Serra Vineyards
  • Simple Machine
  • Slagle Creek Vineyards
  • The Spice & Tea Exchange of Ashland (Saturday only)
  • Spiritopia Liqueurs
  • Storyville Coffee
  • Summit Beverage
  • Thrive - Rogue Flavor Booth​
  • TonTon's Artisan Affections
  • Trium Winery
  • Wagon Trail Foods / Nut Fusions Peanut Spreads
  • Weisinger Family Winery
  • Zagorska Oasis Express Spa & Apothecary


One thing I absolutely love about going to these events is not only feeling unconditionally spoiled by our local artisan food excellence, but learning about the “new folks in town”, such as two years ago when I attended I met the staff from Platt Anderson Cellars and The Spice & Tea Exchange. It is great being able to meander around with a complimentary wine glass in hand (yes, I point that out because I now have a large collection of these from events over the last few years in Southern Oregon), not on a schedule and without (little) motives. This year, my motive is to bring home new recipes and learn about new artisan vendors in town. You bump into strangers and start a conversation about their favorite wine and why. Next thing you know, you are hosting those same guests in your very own home showing off your own top chef skills learned at the Ashland Culinary Festival

Do you have an idea or event you want to share with Bonnie Ryan for her Out & About column? Send her your thoughts.