SUN VALLEY• One man touts hemp foods because, he says, they’re delicious and contain all of the essential nutrients.
A woman served as Michael Jackson and Barbara Streisand’s personal chef.
These are a couple of the chefs and food entrepreneurs you will meet at the Sun Valley Harvest Festival this month.
The festival — which runs Thursday, Sept. 19 through Sunday, Sept. 22 in Sun Valley — boasts 13 different events, including several new ones.
It kicks off with a free discussion by renowned dietician Ashley Koff, who has appeared on “The Dr. Oz” show, at noon Thursday, Sept. 19, and ends with a River Guide Dutch Oven demonstration and grand tasting on Sunday, Sept. 22.
In between is the popular restaurant walk, where foodies can walk from restaurant to restaurant sampling small bites of dishes restaurants and caters don’t ordinarily have on their menus.
And, of course, there’s a martini and caviar party at the historic Roundhouse Restaurant on Bald Mountain.
Not only is there good food and drinks, but the Harvest Festival can be immensely entertaining.
For proof, look back to Dallas chef John Tesar’s demonstration last year where he dropped an octopus on a skillet, its three-foot tentacles wriggling a bit as flames roared and the smoke alarm hanging from the top of the tent began ringing.
“When I shop, I shop on the fringes of the store,”said Hailey resident Renoir Finizio, a festival alum. “I haven’t bought processed food for years. So I like coming to this and meeting the different people and seeing the chefs in person.”
One of the highlights of the festival is the cooking demonstrations, which will be from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, in a tent set up outside Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge.
This year’s chef demonstrators include Malika Ameen, a contestant on Bravo’s new series “Top Chef: Just Desserts.” She will call on her Indian background to show people how to bake with unusual spices.
Akasha Richmond — who has cooked for Jackson, Streisand, Pierce Brosnan and Billy Bob Thornton — will show how to pair wines with great appetizer simply.
Rodrigo Bueno, executive chef at Rancho Pescadero, will prepare a dish with goat — a trendy food at the moment.
Tal Ronnen, who wrote the New York Times bestseller “The Conscious Cook” and created the menu for Oprah Winfrey during her 21-day vegan cleanse, will prepare ancient grains and heirloom vegetables.
And Tina Ruggiero, author of “The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet” and the soon-to-be-published “The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook,” will teach how to jumpstart the day to maximize energy.
One of this year’s new events is a food trends panel from 1-3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20 at the nexStage Theatre. The idea is to address trends from coconut water to gluten free.
Another new event is the food mavericks panel from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 at the nexStage Theater. The panel will feature people with stories about how they started and where they are today.
Among them: Rachel Hofstetter, who just penned the book, “Cooking Up a Business.”
Students with ID can attend both panel discussions for free.
Yet another new event is a free “Meet the Locals: Farmers and Food Artisans” where producers will be stationed in Atkinsons’ Market in Ketchum from 1-4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20.
“You may not notice Ballard cheese on the shelf, but if you meet the person who produces the cheese and get to taste a sample, you won’t forget it next time you go shopping,” festival co-founder Heidi Ottley said. “We will also put ‘Ashley Koff-approved’ tags on the shelf to designate foods that are made responsibly and contain nothing bad.”
An Idaho wine tasting is 4-5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20 at Ketchum Town Square. The restaurant walk from 5-7 p.m. will feature 19 restaurants and caters, including a few new caterers such as Sweet Crumb.
The martini and caviar party is 5:30-8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21 at Roundhouse on Bald Mountain.
And, while you can get a traditional martini at this party, be prepared to think of it flavored with things like lemon verbena leaves, a white peach, lemon juice and agave nectar.
“Muddled fresh fruits with a bit of herb make the perfect refreshing summer cocktail,” said Allison Evanow, founder and CEO of Square One Organic Spirits, which is sponsoring the party along with Michelle Sparkling Wine and Fish Breeders of Idaho. “I enjoy the creativity of layering flavors and textures in food and in cocktails.”
Those who prefer beer and bourbon to vodka and sparkling wine can opt instead for a “5B Boots, Beer, Bourbon & BBQ party at B Restaurant” during the same time.
River guides will prepare a brunch enlivened by the bluegrass music of Dewey, Pickett and Howe at 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 22 outside Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge.
And the Grand Tasting from noon-3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22 will feature food from 16 shops, restaurants and caterers from as far away as Stanley and Boise.
Vendors will sell unusual local products from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Harvest Marketplace open to the public inside Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge.
“The food world is changing as people are starting to pay more attention to food and where it comes from,”Ottley said. “We want to have people walk away from this weekend saying they learned so much. We want them saying, ‘I had no idea.’”