Press junkets are often pretty boozy affairs, and so are food festivals, but Playboy columnist Dan Dunn took things to all new heights at the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Fest two years ago and we’re guessing he hasn’t been invited back. In his new memoir of his drinking life, Living Loaded — which is not, as we’d first assumed, a melancholy memoir about a drunk who’s become sober, but more of an insecure look at the writer’s life as a globe-trodding guy who’s essentially paid to party — he tells the tale of his trip to the second annual fest in ‘09, which is a more sedate and reverent sort of event than he’s used to. Dunn arrives on the scene and immediately, during the celebrity chef/winemaker golf tournament that starts at 8 a.m., gets blotto drunk. But he’s a professional right? By 10 a.m., a dozen drinks later, he’s hitting Thomas Keller up for a comp dinner at Per Se. Below, an excerpt.
8:22 a.m. - We’re about ten minutes away from the shotgun start of the celebrity chef/winemaker golf tourney, and I’m already on my third drink. Unless you count the Cristal. And the Stella. Does beer even count? I think I’ve found the problem with my methodology here. The problem is counting. In any case, the way I see it, if you play golf sober you are officially part of the problem.
8:32 a.m. - We’re starting on hole thirteen. And I’m rapidly approaching drink number thirteen. This is not a good sign.
9:14 a.m. - One of my randomly assigned playing partners, a nice if somewhat skittish man from San Francisco who I’ll call Marlon, pulls me aside and says, “Hey, man, remember – Pebble Beach is hallowed ground.” Not sure if this is meant to inspire or discourage me from dropping trou on the sixteenth tee box. I drink a vodka-lemonade instead.
9:30 a.m. - Five holes in and I’m starting to hit my stride. Unfortunately for the rest of the team, my stride looks a lot like Mel Gibson during a roadside sobriety test.
10:26 a.m. - Just bumped into famed chef Thomas Keller. I told him I was a professional scribe for an esteemed publication and that I’ll be visiting New York City soon and wouldn’t mind dropping by his acclaimed restaurant Per Se to see if it lives up to the hype. On the house, of course, I added with a wry grin. Keller sort of smiled too, but was clearly uncertain as to whether I was kidding or just a raging asshole. Not at all sure myself at this point, actually.
2 p.m. - Too God-many-fucking-ass drinks to the wind, and we’re at an awards ceremony at Club XIX, which overlooks the stunning eighteenth green. How’d we do? Well, we didn’t come in first, but didn’t disgrace ourselves either. Regardless, I am choosing to pretend I’ve won. So this is what it feels like to be Jack Nicklaus. Hordes of attendees are now falling over one another to get at… OK, at Thomas Keller, who’s looking cool as a cucumber in his wraparound shades. The guy’s like Bono with a skillet. I’m convinced it’s only a matter of time before dry cleaners, like chefs, get their due on reality TV and become international superstars. Hopefully, booze writers are right behind those Martinizing bastards in line.
11:22 p.m. - Back in the hotel room… at this point my speech becomes garbled. Must have been a problem with the voice recorder. What’s that? The Au Bon Climat paired well with the risotto? Or was that pudding? No, it was pillows. Pillows filled with fromage blanc and herbs made by Chris Kostow of Meadowood in Napa. Pillows. Fromage. Viognier. Oh, yeah, the Skipstone Viognier was nice too. Ooh, Top Gun is on cable….
Earlier: Which Chefs Will Be at This Year’s Pebble Beach Food & Wine Fest? [Grub Street]