As an avid cyclist, I can personally vouch for our community’s passion for good food (and cycling helps me burn away all those calories I accrue from my 5 Bites round ups.) There’s lots of events that cater to foodie cyclists — such as the Tour d’Organics or the Wine Country Century.
Chris King, of his eponymous Portland-based company Chris King Precision Components, has had a long history of sharing his love for food at cycling events. It’s even inspired him to organize his own popular “Gourmet Century” series.
[He’s] been the primary sponsor and a volunteer of the “Gourmet Century” since 1990,” said Chef Chris DiMinno via email, formerly of Clyde Common and now the company’s chef and event coordinator.
In 1998, Chris made a deal to purchase the company taking control of the event in 1999, and we have been running it ever since. What makes these events unique is the amount of attention that is paid to the insuring a high-quality food experience. For many cycling events, food is an afterthought. The “Gourmet Centuries” put an emphasis on creating a beautiful food-and-beverage experience.”
King founded his high-end bicycle parts company in Santa Barbara, but relocated to Oregon in 2003.
“[That] was the last year the “Gourmet Century” took place in Sonoma. 11 years later, we wanted to bring it back home.”
This fall, DiMinno and his team will be coming to Healdsburg and draw upon his extensive culinary skills to oversee the Bay Area event. “I’ve been cooking for about half my life. I started in restaurants when I was 15, eventually going to the Culinary Institute of America where I received a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts Management.”“After that I worked at a number of restaurants in New York, including Telepan and Blue Hill at Stone Barns — two restaurants that focused on the chef-farm connection. It was my interest in developing a more complete education on how a chef-farm connection can create a better food experience that led me to Portland. It has an abundant amount of quality, local products.”
“I first started working with Chris three years ago for the Portland Gourmet Century while still working as the chef at Clyde Common. It turned out to be one of the most fun and rewarding food events that I have had the opportunity to have been involved with, and I wanted to find a way to do events like this more often. After helping to plan two more events, Chris approached me with the idea of a full-time job where I would be responsible for planning and coordinating the Gourmet Century series. I am now in charge, with the help of an amazing committee, of the planning and the execution of these events, from permitting, route planning, finding the chefs, making sure the day goes smoothly and so much more.”
While DiMinno is still working out the details of the menu, he’s already lined up a talented roster of notable Bay Area chefs that include Chris Cosentino of Porcellino (formerly Incanto) and Boccalone; Ari Weiswasser of Glen Ellen Star, Matthew Accarrino of SPQR; and Michael Hanaghan of Five Dot Ranch. “[We’re] creating an epic menu for the day.”
“The Bay Area is a natural choice for the Gourmet Century,” adds DiMinno. “As of now, we are talking about bringing it back next year. With the gaining popularity of the event, we may be taking the event further on the road next year, talking about venues in Japan, Italy and New York.”
The Sonoma Gourmet Century takes place on October 18, 2014. (And I’ll be attending and will be covering the 62-mile ride for Bay Area Bites.) If you’d like more information about the event, visit their website; registration is open to 400 riders.
Video from the 2013 Chris King Gourmet Century in Portland.