The Cascade Range presides over an event staged on the finely manicured greens of the prestigious Broken Top Golf Club. Eighteen World-Class Chefs set up kitchens that flank a stage that hosts one of the country’s most innovative violinists. A dance floor is built and tables, decorated with the bounty of Oregon’s flowers, are set up in the middle under the Central Oregon night sky. A collaboration of man and nature brings us a venue of grand proportions.
Only a setting of such natural beauty and human innovation can host the feast that happens here. The gates open just as the evening begins to cool. Foodies and aficionados from Bend and elsewhere make their way into feast. A selection of Deschutes Brewery’s finest beers and choice wines from Oregon entice them as they pass “Woody”, Deschutes Brewery’s traveling pub. Built to look like a barrel, aging the craft beers of Deschutes Brewery, Woody is a feat of creativity and engineering that hosts not only the county’s finest beers, but also connoisseurs of the craft. The bartenders are some of the most knowledgeable people of the brewing process and the flavors the beers contain. These folks have spent years pouring and tasting beers and pairing their flavors with the foods of the Northwest. They are the guides who lead us through the event.
Beer in hand, guests dressed in summer gowns and sport coats mill about exploring the kitchens set up for the guest chefs. Do you start with the oyster bar, hosted by Hog Island Oyster Co. or Ken Frank of La Toque’s Boneless Lamb Loin with a Cumin Scented Carrot puree? Friends see each other surprised, “I didn’t realize I’d see you here”. They embrace, catch up and inevitably recommend a dish that has to be tasted. “You have to try Roberto Donna’s Lobster Salad. It is paired with the La Fleur, a hop-less beer. They used myrtle, yarrow, orange blossom and other spices to give it its flavor. The salad is wonderful and with the beer it’s extraordinary”. This goes on for hours, food, friends, Aaron Meyer’s violin in the background, Oregon wines and Deschutes Brewery’s finest beers all under a sun setting over the Cascades.
Warmed with beer and palettes satiated by culinary delights, the guests settle down to the tables. Aaron Meyers finishes his set and a new band takes the stage. Under a starry sky the dancing begins. Partners take to the dance floor; Chefs leave their kitchens to talk with diners. The night is in full swing. Conversation and merriment fill the air. Favorite dishes are discussed, past meals are remembered old friends are found and new ones made. This is what dining is about. The Sagebrush Feast again lives up to its reputation. A fabulous night is had by all and all for a great cause. The Deschutes Children’s Foundation, the chefs, the hosts and the guests all leave better for the experience. The twenty-first anniversary of the Sagebrush Classic is a night to be talked about and remembered until next year.
Matt Neltner, Executive Chef