Twice a year, Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort invites well-known chefs, vintners and other tastemakers to shut off their phones and fire up the grill on the idyllic 10,000-acre property just north of Santa Barbara.
This weekend’s BBQ Bootcamp (October 20-22, 2019) centers around three days of hands-on, sauce-slathering good times with VIP culinary masters standing over smokers and hot fires as they share pro tips and techniques with happy guests. It’s part of a five-day celebration that also includes a California hospitality workshop inspired by Alisal’s newest design innovation.
Located in Solvang, California (two-and-a-half hours north of L.A.), Alisal is an escape from everything that’s dinging and pinging in your digital life. The secluded Santa Ynez Valley ranch (two-and-a-half hours north of Los Angeles) has no TVs or cell service in its 73 cowboy-comfy rooms. With more than 50 miles of horse trails, two golf courses, a 6,500-square-foot spa and a 1oo-acre lake for boating and fly fishing, Alisal, open since 1946, throws it back to pre-Internet days when “posting” meant rising out of your saddle seat, and “tagging” meant chasing your cousin around and screaming “you’re it!”
This weekend’s BBQ event features Los Angeles barbecue chef Burt Bakman (Slab BBQ), Austin-based smoking and grilling expert Palua Disbrowe (cookbook author of “Thank You for Smoking”), artisan bread baker Bob Oswaks (Bob’s Well Bread) and L.A. chocolatier Valerie Gordon (Valerie Confections). Think of BBQ Bootcamp as an excuse to sample the region’s legendary Santa Maria grilling techniques and maybe break for a scrub or rub in the Alisal spa.
From October 23-25, Nathan Turner, a celebrity interior designer and design-TV personality, is hosting an “I Love California” guest experience that’s inspired by the new three-room Turner House cottage he recently designed at Alisal. The three-day, two-night session focuses on entertaining, table decor, cooking and mixology (there’s a “Mastering the Margarita” clinic with a tutorial on upping your guacamole game). In the evenings, guests will join in an “elevated” s’mores-making session under the Santa Ynez Valley stars.
Introduced this summer, the refurbished Turner House is distinct from the old-school ranch digs that visitors love about this place (it’s not unusual to see guests returning for a 20th or 30th season). Turner’s updated cottage has walls of reclaimed farmhouse paneling; a fireplace fashioned from river stones; Monterey-style cabinetry, and hand-picked antiques and ironwork designs. Guests can book the entire three-bedroom building or each room separately. Turner included Ralph Lauren fabrics, and Pendleton accessories to complete the look.
Alisal works hard to keep things retro and relaxed. Despite the off-the-grid vibe, there’s a ton of fall activities, from mountain biking, air rifles and archery to a continuous belay adventure course. And don’t worry: As soon as you’re back in cellphone range, you can post all the pics on Instagram.
Alisal is located at 1054 South Alisal Road in Solvang, California. Spots are still available for the upcoming workshops. Guests can register on the resort’s website at www.alisal.com, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 805 688-6411.