A friend and great promotor of Central Coast wines passed away recently. I first met Archie at an event held by The American Insitute of Wine and Food (AIWF). He seemed like a post-beatnik, avant-garde artist at the time with his signature beret. In the mid-eighties, we had a conversation at my restaurant, Michael's Waterside, in which I mentioned an ambition to cook at the Hearst Castle. A few months later, I was invited to assist Chef Michel Richard at a Hearst Castle dinner. Afterward, I wrote to him with a three-page letter suggesting ways to improve the event. I was later invited to organize the kitchen teams and liaison with the guest chefs. I have had the pleasure of participating in Archie's signature dinner at the Hearst Castle for over 30 years.
Archie was my first guest when I began my tenure as the chef in residence for The Inn Crowd cooking show (link to first show). His erudition on wine and fine dining was a great beginning. Archie later went on to host his own show with Case Productions, Wine Country. We did several Inn Crowd shows over the course of several years including chef John Moeller, former White House chef and Steve Hearst, grandson of famed William Randolf Hearst.
Frank Ostini of Hitching Post fame and master winemaker Jim Clendennen of Au Bon Climat organized a memorial service at Jim's vineyard. It was a grand event and the only missing components were Archie and a live auction! Archie will be missed.
For the memorial, I prepared two of the many appetizers I have prepared at the Hearst Castle for the Central Coast Wine Classic. I did Potato Croquettes with truffles. It's based on a classic potato Dauphine which I married with a caramelized onion-truffle sauce. The Second offering was a potato blini-crepe. Graham C. Gaspard of Black River Caviar provided two huge tins of terrific caviar to pair with the blinis. I learned a new way of tasting caviar from Graham. He would scoop up a generous amount of caviar with the mother of pearl spoon and place it on the back of his thumb and waft it up!
View us on The Inn Crowd Saturdays at 6:30 on ABC affiliate KEY channel 3. Please note that the airtime may vary as late as 9:30 during the football season. You may view the show online at the Santa Barbara News Press. Look to the right side of the web page for a link to the show. YTS Digital Films filmed and directed this show.
Put on your apron, grab your whisk, fire up the oven. I'll provide the recipes, and the rest is up to you. See you in the kitchen.
Chef Michael Hutchings
Archie McLaren, Central Coast Wine Classic Founder & Chairman
Archie McLaren has been involved in an array of activities on the Central Coast of California since his arrival here in 1974 to represent legal publisher West Publishing Company. Originally assigned to Nevada and Central California, and later to Nevada, Alaska, and Hawaii, he became the Administrator of International Marketing for The Orient for West, representing the company in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia. He retired from West Publishing Company in 1990.
During that time and following, he became no stranger to the world of fine cuisine and rare wine. He is the founding Bailli of the Central Coast Chapter of the Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, a member of the Vintners’ Club of San Francisco, the Wine & Food Society of San Francisco, the San Francisco Chapter of the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin and the Marin County Chapter of the International Wine & Food Society. He is the former Cellarmaster of the Avila Bay Wine Society and the former President of the Central Coast Wine Society.
Archie has served as Chairman/Executive Director of both the San Luis Obispo Vintners & Growers Association for whom he is still a consultant and the Paso Robles Westside Grand Crew. He is one of only two Americans inducted into the Austrian Wine Brotherhood (His friend Brooks Firestone is the other), and one of the few Americans inducted into the Commanderie des Bontemps - Medoc et Graves & Sauternes et Barsac of Bordeaux in France.
Archie has long been associated with charitable wine auctions. Not only did he serve for many years as the American Institute of Wine & Food’s Rare & Fine Wine and Auction Consultant, where he became close friends with Julia Child, he also served as a Director on its National Board. He is the Founder & Chairman of the Central Coast Wine Classic, held in high esteem as a prestigious and comprehensive food and wine event, held each year in July and in its thirty-first year, which boasts Wine Spectator among its many significant sponsors. Several years ago, Archie received a San Luis Obispo County Visitors & Conference Bureau Annual Tourism Award for his conception and presentation of the Wine Classic.
With revenues exceeding $1,000,000, the Central Coast Wine Classic is one of America’s most successful charity wine auctions. The Wine Classic not only promotes the wine, culinary and hospitality industries, it also confers substantive beneficiary proceeds through the Central Coast Wine Classic Foundation, which was created in 2004 to sustain 501(c)3 foundations in San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County whose missions are in the Healing, Performing or Studio Arts. From 2004 through 2014, the Foundation has granted over $2,500,000 to 125 such non-profits. In the Fall of 2010, he was honored by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors for his Civic and Charitable Contributions to the citizens of San Luis Obispo County, in August of 2012, he was awarded a Certificate of Recognition by the Assembly of the California Legislature for the Central Coast Wine Classic’s donation of $100,000 to the Children’s Resource Network, in July of 2014 he was again recognized by the California State Assembly for his support of Central Coast non-profits, his promotion of the Central Coast Wine Industry and his positive impact on Central Coast Tourism through the Central Coast Wine Classic, and he has just been awarded in April of 2016 an additional Assembly Certificate of Recognition for being chosen as United Cerebral Palsy’s Citizen of the Year for 2016.
Archie has assisted in launching charity auctions in Washington, D.C., Honolulu, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Mendocino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Ynez and Santa Barbara. His former partner in life, Carissa Chappellet, an owner of Chappellet Winery in the Napa Valley and the winery’s Legal Director & Ambassador, and he have served as Chairs of the WYES Public Television Auction in New Orleans and are frequent donors to and supporters of charitable wine auctions throughout the United States.
In addition, with Brian Talley in 2001, he co-founded the extremely popular World of Pinot Noir, now held at Santa Barbara. In 2007, he directed and was the auctioneer for the Pinot Plus Auction, the Carneros Wine Alliance’s inaugural Carneros Appellation wine and lifestyle tasting and auction, and, although he does not consider himself to be an even remotely functional auctioneer, was auctioneer for the 2007 and 2008 Lake County California Wine Auctions.
Archie is frequently invited to attend tastings of rare and collectible wines throughout the country and has participated in comprehensive vertical tastings of Chateaux d’Yquem, Latour, Mouton Rothschild, Cos d’Estournel, Leoville Las Cases and Cheval Blanc, as well as La Tache, Hermitage La Chapelle, Penfolds Grange, Vega Sicilia Unico, and Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour Private Reserve, among a number of others. A long-time Champagne aficionado who has attended many tastings of rare Champagnes (In 1972, Archie’s long-time friend, “Soul Man” songwriter David Porter turned him on to better sparkling wine than he was drinking at the time, and when Archie moved to California, he took it from there!), he was Founder and Director of the International Festival of Methode Champenoise.
On San Luis Obispo & Santa Barbara Public Radio KCBX, Archie hosted a fine wine program, the Wine Drinker’s Guide to Indulgence for twenty-three years (He continues to host an occasional show, including every year for the results of the California wine grape harvest), and has been a writer on fine wine for Adventures in Dining, the San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune, New Times and Santa Barbara Magazine.
His recent addition of an office and living quarters in downtown Santa Barbara is designed to enhance the demographic audience of the Central Coast Wine Classic, and he has already appeared on a Santa Barbara television show, The Inn Crowd, whose subject is the relationship between fine cuisine and fine wine. A television show on fine wine that he will host is in the initial stages with the goal of airing in early 2016. He is thrilled to note that within four blocks of his Santa Barbara living quarters are restaurants representing a dozen different ethnicities, each an outstanding and accurate representation of its theme, all the way from Himalayan to Creole.
His education includes a Bachelor of Arts degree from Vanderbilt University, a Juris Doctor of Law degree from the University of Memphis, and post-graduate studies in Humanities, English Literature and International Marketing at various universities. He continues to study a variety of subjects, including recently the Evolution of Language, the theories behind the Classical Western European Musical tradition, the History of the Female Influence in Fine Art, World Geology and various Cultural and Evolutionary Anthropological subjects.
Archie McLaren is involved in an array of civic activities, both in the arts and in the community in general. As previously indicated, he has received the San Luis Obispo Visitors & Convention Bureau’s Annual Tourism Award. He has twice served as the President of the Board of Directors of the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival and as a member of the Board of Directors of the San Luis Obispo County Arts Council.
He served as the President of the Board of Directors of the Avila Beach Water District and the Chairman of the Avila Beach Front Street Enhancement Committee that designed the promenade and park for the rejuvenation of the community of Avila Beach after the discovery and mitigation of the Unocal Oil environmental damage, and for many years was Chairman of the committee that approves new projects for Avila Beach prior to their being approved at the county level.
In order to rebalance the energy and restore the vitality to the community of Avila Beach, a town that was physically and psychologically ripped apart by the Unocal mitigation, he presented Avila Drum Day, a rhythmic happening that was designed to heal the community’s collective psyche. World-renowned percussionists such as Airto Moreira, Walfredo Reyes, and Richie Gajate Garcia, at the behest of Santa Barbara resident Eddie Tuduri, founder of The Rhythmic Arts Project, donated their time and stunning musical abilities to the event. Archie has recently begun contemplating a novel on the subject of Rhythm and Harmonics and their various manifestations.
His many accomplishments over the years he has lived in California have resulted in his inclusion in Who’s Who in Media & Communications, Who’s Who in the West, Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World.