Bird’s-Eye View from Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival

As the golden sun shines on the rugged cliffs of Pebble Beach, a symphony of culinary masterpieces unfolds against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. Welcome to a bird’s-eye view of the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival, where Audubon California’s Audubon Conservation Ranching program proudly stands as a steward of sustainability inside the indulgence. Join us as we dive into the sights, sounds, and smells of this event, where food meets a commitment to preserving our precious planet.

The Inside Scoop of the Festival

Let’s take a moment to visualize the scene. Since its inception in 2008, Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival has been an intersection of luxury and food excellence, earning accolades as one of California’s most exclusive food-and-wine festivals. Picture yourself strolling through the festival grounds, surrounded by white tents and a serenade of sounds by the breeze of the Pacific Ocean. The aroma of artisanal cheeses, freshly baked bread, and sizzling meats graces your senses. At the same time, you hear the bustle of food enthusiasts eager to explore every corner of this culinary wonderland. As one of the most prestigious destinations on the Monterey Peninsula, Pebble Beach sets the stage for this notable gathering of skilled chefs from all backgrounds.

From Bird-Friendly Land to the Culinary Stage

You may be wondering what Audubon California has to do with a food and wine festival. Within Audubon California and the National Audubon Society lies the unique Audubon Conservation Ranching (ACR) program, which aims to stabilize declining grassland bird populations and biodiversity by partnering with land stewards, like ranchers and farmers. By enrolling in ACR, ranchers implement bird-friendly management practices on their lands.

So how did we get a seat at the table? Audubon California’s ACR program was able to build a cross-state partnership between an enrolled rancher, Daniel Sinton of Avenales Ranch, located in San Luis Obispo County, and an acclaimed local Sacramento chef, Dennis Sydnor.

More and more people have joined the eco-conscious foodie train. People want to know that what they are eating has been raised or grown sustainably. Dennis Sydnor, Executive Chef of BAWK by Urban Roots, knows this well. As a first-time invitee to Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival, he wanted to showcase a product that is good for the people eating his food and good for the environment.

The collaboration between ACR partners, Avenales Ranch and Dennis Sydnor, resulted in this beautiful jerk tartare made with beef from bird-friendly land! Photo: Shana Risby
Chef Dennis Sydnor plates up beef from Audubon Certified Bird-Friendly Land in a jerk tartare Photo: Shana Risby
Chef Dennis Sydnor smiles with fellow Sacramento-based chef Ravin Patel, of Seventh Street Standard Photo: Shana Risby
PBFW brought in top chefs from across the country, including celebrity chef Marc Murphy Photo: Shana Risby
Chef Dennis Sydnor and his team had the opportunity to connect with other chefs throughout the event Photo: Shana Risby

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He is committed to the ACR program because he knows cattle raised on bird-friendly land freely graze on open rangelands without feedlots, and are raised ethically without hormones or antibiotics. Conservation ranching fosters the natural behaviors of livestock, enhances soil health, mitigates carbon emissions, and protects water quality, ultimately promoting healthier ecosystems and encouraging biodiversity. Dennis’ and Avenales Ranch’s innovative practices can surely pave the way for a future where culinary excellence and ecological responsibility go hand in hand.

Inside the Tasting Pavilion, Dennis was able to elevate sirloin from Avenales Ranch and transform it into a jerk beef tartare with an all-spiced air on cocoa bread. A crowd favorite, the dish was a Caribbean-inspired bite influenced by his father. Attendees enjoyed the flavors while learning about the program behind the Audubon Certified bird-friendly seal that helps conserve birds, wildlife, and rangelands nationwide. All cuts that weren’t used inside the Tasting Pavilion were then repurposed for other events at the festival through an ACR sponsorship including the Burger, Bourbon, and Bordeaux and the Palo Alto Networks private dinner. Additional food from the Tasting Pavilion was donated to local charities through the Pebble Beach Foundation.

Expanding Chef Partnerships Beyond Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival

Building networks between chefs and ranchers can be an exciting future part of the Audubon Conservation Ranching program. By showcasing dishes made from responsibly-sourced ingredients, chefs can educate consumers about the importance of sustainable ranching and its positive impact on the environment. Partnering with chefs allows ranchers to tap into new markets and reach consumers who prioritize sustainability and ethical sourcing. 

Together, let’s savor the flavors of sustainability, knowing each bite took brought us closer to a world where nature’s bounty is cherished and preserved for generations to come. Cheers to Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival for giving our ACR champions a platform, where indulgence met conservation and every ACR dish served told a story of stewardship and respect for the land!

If you would like to purchase products from Audubon Certified Bird-Friendly Land and contribute to innovative environmental conservation efforts, take a look at our marketplace here.

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