If you’re a “foodie” and you live in Central Oregon, I hope you’re planning to attend this afternoon/evening’s Dinner on the Range, the highlight of the annual Ghost Tree Invitational at the Pronghorn Club. I will certainly be there.
Launched several years ago by Ryan Chackel of Combined Communications — publisher of what was then Gusto magazine (now Central Oregon Magazine) — Ghost Tree has come to rival the Sagebrush Classic as the biggest food-and-wine(-and-golf) event on the High Desert. But unlike the Sagebrush, which brings name chefs from across the country and around the world to the Broken Top Club, the Ghost Tree is devoted to showcasing the skills of the region’s own culinary experts.
Beginning at 4 p.m., I’ll be noshing with many of my favorite chefs, including Cliff Eslinger from 900 Wall, Gavin McMichael from Blacksmith and Bourbon Street, Marcos Rodriguez from Hola!, Jeff Porad from Brickhouse, and David Hatfield from Cafe 3456.
I’ll be enjoying gourmet tastes from Cafe Sintra, 5 Fusion, the Pine Tavern, Tart, 10 Below and the Victorian Cafe, whose John Nolan makes Bend’s best bloody Marys. I’ll be gorging myself on food from the Brand 33, Crossings, the Deschutes Brewery, La Rosa, Pizano’s, Scanlon’s and the host Pronghorn Club.
I’ll be enjoying beverages from about 10 wineries, a half-dozen breweries and the Bendistillery as I tear up the dance floor to the sounds of Liquid Blue. This seven-member San Diego-based dance band is so hot, they played at the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
I’ll be hobnobbing with celebrities like actors Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings, Rudy, Goonies) and Aimee Garcia (The George Lopez Show, Trauma), and athletes Terry Porter (ex-Blazers) and Ricky Watters (ex-49ers and Seahawks). Watters promised to sign the old #32 jersey that’s hanging in my closet. Many of these celebs played the Nicklaus or Fazio courses at Pronghorn yesterday, a benefit event for the Kids Center, the Assistance League and the Boys and Girls Club.
Tickets are still available at the gate. The price isn’t cheap — $200 — but all things considered, it’s not bad for a 19-course meal with drinks and entertainment. Last year, about 1,100 people attended. Surf to www.ghosttreeinvitational for more details.