Yosemite Chefs' Holidays are a weekend-long event featuring famous chefs and the great cuisine they create.
The primary activities are cooking demos. Afterward, you'll be offered a tiny bite of one of the dishes shown and you'll get a recipe to take home. They're good if you like to watch cooking shows, but sometimes thin on practical advice.
Between sessions, you'll have time on your own. You can also attend a reception where you can meet the chefs. However, the highlight of this event is no doubt the Gala Dinner. It's planned and cooked by one of the featured chefs, offering you a chance to enjoy their cooking without having to travel to their restaurant to do it. The Ahwahnee dining room makes a beautiful backdrop for the occasion.
Likes and Dislikes
We rate the Chefs' Holidays 3 stars out of 5 for the cooking demonstrations, but rate the Gala Dinner 5 out of 5 for beautiful surroundings, superb food quality and a chance to sample the creations of some of the country's best chefs.
We met many people who like the Chefs' Holidays so much that they go every year. However, being more of a doer than a watcher, I was restless during the demos and found that I wasn't interested in cooking many of the dishes myself. If you're like me, consider buying yourself a couple of nice cookbooks, treating yourself to a couple days in Yosemite to rest and relax and then just sign up for a Gala Dinner.
Yosemite Chefs' Holidays Venue and Crowd Factor
The Chefs' Holidays are held in Yosemite's Ahwahnee Hotel. Demonstrations are set up in a large public space and the dinner is held in the dining room.
While popularity is growing and some sessions may be more popular than others, you can find space in many sessions even on short notice.
Once you're there, it's worth the time to get to the demo sessions early enough to get a seat with a good view. The best spots are along the center aisle about one-third of the way back.
Tips for Enjoying the Chef's Holidays
- Study the chefs and pick those whose dishes you might cook at home.
- If you own a featured chef's cookbook, take it along and collect their autograph.
- Professional chefs are a creative lot. Be forewarned that the printed recipe will not be exactly what they cook. Getting a seat where you can see and taking lots of notes will help you reproduce the dish at home.
- You'll have spare time in several-hour chunks between activities. Bring warm clothing if you want to explore outdoors or bring a book to read by the fireplace.
- Don't miss the kitchen tour. It's one of the most interesting things you'll do.
- Stay at the Ahwahnee Hotel if you can. Dinner includes much wine and it's nice if your room is close.
Chefs' Holidays Reservations
The Chefs' Holidays website has information about how make your reservations.
Chefs' Holidays Basics
- The Chefs' Holidays are held annually in January and February at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park.
- Each session features three chefs. Admission includes a cooking demonstration by each of them, a reception where you can meet them all, a behind-the-scenes kitchen tour and the Gala Dinner.
- Sessions run Sunday through Tuesday or Wednesday through Friday. Two- and three-night packages include lodging at the Ahwahnee or Yosemite Lodge. You can also buy tickets just for the Gala Dinner.
- Yosemite Chefs' Holidays website
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary admission for the purpose of reviewing this event. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.