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Pasture to plate at Petaluma’s Stemple Creek Ranch

If you are going to attend a ranch dinner, it may as well be at the area’s premier grass-fed, environmentally-conscious beef ranch. Stemple Creek Ranch will hold their next special “Pasture to Plate Farm Dinner” in their historic barn on April 29, which will be a great way to relax and unwind after the day’s Butter & Egg Days festivities.

We plan on attending for several reasons, starting with the fact that we love Stemple Creek’s grass-fed meats. We also enjoy visiting this ranch because it is charming and familiar, as is the Poncia family that runs it. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that Stemple Creek will serve wines from one of our Petaluma favorites, Barber Cellars.

As a bonus, seeing that culinary artist Chef Matt Elias will be operating the grill put a huge smile on my face, and got my taste buds excited. But for the incredible crab feast we just attended at Heidrun Meadery, I might not have known who Chef Matt Elias is, or how talented he is in a kitchen.

Formerly the chef at Inverness’s Saltwater Oyster Depot, Chef Elias is currently catering events of all sizes, as well as bringing his Bodega food truck to life. Chef Elias knows how to create incredible meals out of simple and healthy ingredients. Add in live music and this Stemple Creek Ranch dinner will be a meal we’ll never forget.

Wine Country Chefs of Tomorrow

I’ll bet most readers are like me and rarely give the “back of house” much thought, other than that we love that our local chefs keep getting better. Well, a huge part of our restaurant scene’s success comes from the fact that our chefs are receiving excellent training and are learning to connect with and appreciate local producers.

Many of our Sonoma County high schools have culinary arts programs, including Petaluma’s Casa Grande High. These programs give students hands-on work experience, and they are always in need of sponsorship. The Wine Country Chefs of Tomorrow and Sonoma County Lodging Association aims to do this when they hold their yearly fundraiser on April 26 at 5:30 p.m. at the Vintners Inn in Santa Rosa.

Each of seven local high school culinary programs are paired with a local chef to collaborate and prepare a delectable appetizer, which event guests will get to taste and then vote on for the coveted People’s Choice Award. Additionally, I will be part of a judging panel that will pick the Judge’s Choice winner. Along with the tasty appetizers and amazing travel opportunities in the live and silent auctions, guests will dine on a delicious dinner from John Ash & Co. For more information, visit chefsoftomorrow.org, or call 837-1928.

Craft beer program

Sonoma State University’s Craft Beer Appreciation Certification program is expertly led by local beer aficionado, radio personality, and world food and drink judge, Herlinda Heras. The next segment of the program is “Brewery Startup” and begins on April 12. This class will run through April 26, meeting each Wednesday night at Lagunitas Brewing Company from 6 to 9 p.m. Sign up at www.sonoma.edu/exed/beer. The “Business of Beer” segment of the certification program is just wrapping up and next up after “Brewery Startup” will be the “History of Beer and Styles.”

Rivetti receives award

Petaluma author Frances Rivetti received the Editor’s Award from the Sonoma County Historic Society at their annual luncheon and awards ceremony on March 19. With over 100 historic groups throughout Sonoma County, the Historic Society holds this annual event in order to share our county’s rich history and to encourage further collaboration. Rivetti was honored for her books “Fog Valley Crush” and “Fog Valley Winter,” both of which follow the author through her exploration of the North Bay’s fascinating culinary history and how it relates to the modern food scene.

Lagunitas Idea Lounge

The Idea Lounge is a once monthly “out of the box” series put on by the Petaluma Art Center and held at the Lagunitas Brewery. The Lounge hosts two local celebrities who talk about how life and art are entwined in more ways than we may realize.

This month’s guests include Laura Sunday, who is affectionately known as the “Chili Empress” and the “Queen of Cuisine,” and creator of the Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff, Salsa, and Beer Tasting and Taste of Petaluma. She will talk about her passion for roller-dancing. Frances Rivetti will speak about her local writing adventures. Socializing starts at 6:30 p.m. with the presenters taking the stage at 7 p.m.

Yanni’s Sausages

I was lucky enough to slip into Yanni’s Sausages of Penngrove just in time to grab one of the last March “Greek Independence” special sausage sandwiches. It was an incredible mixture of flavors, and was even better than last month’s special, if that is even possible.

We say that every month, and every month it is true, and so April will be no different. Ever since Chef Brenda closed down Secret Kitchen, I have been craving a good Banh Mi sandwich, and although not strictly traditional, I have had Yanni’s Banh Mi several times in the past and cannot wait to have it again when it reappears as the April special.

Yanni’s Banh Mi uses their garlic sausage, served on a bed of carrot, radish and cilantro slaw, with a dollop of Sriracha mayo, all wrapped in a special Full Circle Bakery roll. Don’t be surprised to see us at Yanni’s more than once this month.

Gluten-free ice cream sale

Mariposa Ice Creamery, Nana’s Kitchen, Inguenez Biscotti & Granola and Ka’Deas gluten-free foods will hold a warehouse sale on April 15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 431 Payran Street. We have tried them all and can say with all honesty that even the gluten-free treats and pastas are top notch.

(Contact Houston Porter at houston@avant-larde.com.)