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    Epic BottleRock Napa Valley for 2021!

    By Liam P. Mayclem–

    The BottleRock Napa Valley festival brought music, food & wine, and good vibes under blue skies and sunshine over Labor Day weekend. I hosted the Williams-Sonoma Culinary Stage for the sixth year after a two-year break, since May 2019, and it was brilliant to be back and well worth the wait.

    The Williams-Sonoma Culinary Stage presents a tasty stew of live shows each day (12 over 3 days) pairing celebrity chefs with rock and sports stars. On this stage it’s the Chefs (for the recent fest it was Aarón Sanchez, Ayesha Curry, Matt Horn, Michael Mina, Brooke Williamson, and more) who rock as much as the superstar guests (Warren G, Derek Hough, Dave Grohl). And no, these are not your Aunt Fanny’s cooking demos!

    Here are a few examples: country-pop superstar Maren Morris made her fave Spicy Margarita for Chef Tyler Florence (he made fried chicken) and Top Chef Judge Gail Simmons. Chef Ming Tsai cooked his famous, mouthwatering Ming’s Bings. He also made a baseball-sized rice ball and pitched it to two-time World Series Champion Hunter Pence; it was soon “outta here” into the crowd of a few thousand. Chefs Belle & Todd English hatched an Olympic-sized ravioli (8″ x 8″) with a massive ostrich egg and a bucket of caviar for Dancing with the Stars superstar Derek Hough and girlfriend Hayley Erbert.

    There were so many feel good moments on the Culinary Stage. We honored first responders in a “Battle of the Brothers” cook-off that paired a firefighter with a Voltaggio brother (Bryan & Michael). Both teams were declared winners of the contest and were each given a $25,000 firehouse kitchen makeover by Williams-Sonoma. I took a moment to acknowledge those fearless heroes and also Chef Guy Fieri, who has done much in recent years by fundraising, showing up, and feeding those on the fire lines. Guy brought swagger and heart to the stage.

    Sunday’s union between superstar Chef José Andrés and Foo Fighter Dave Grohl brought the biggest crowds, biggest cheers, and nonstop warm fuzzies. Chef José turned Sunday preacher as he spoke of the importance of all of humanity coming together and for us to step up and lean in when others need a helping hand. His t-shirt reading “Immigrants Feed America” said it all. The respect between Dave & Chef José was palpable, and Chef showed it by sweeping the Foo Fighter off his feet with a bear hug at the end of the set.

    Beyond the Culinary Stage there was music aplenty. I saw just a few of the music acts: last minute fill-in for Chris Stapleton, The Highwomen (Brandi Carlile, Brittney Spencer, Maren Morris, and Natalie Hemby) wowed the crowd on Friday night. Guns & Roses delivered an impressive three-hour set on Saturday that included a surprise appearance by Pink and Grohl. Sadly, the 10 pm curfew cut off the Foo Fighter just as he was getting warmed up to join Guns & Roses for “Paradise City.”

    Overall, the weekend was wonderful and so worth the wait for the audiences and the musicians who performed. During his Sunday night performance, Grohl said, “It was great drinking Chardonnay in sweat pants these past 18 months, but this sure feels good to be back on stage doing what we love with all of you.” His set rocked for two plus hours and even included a break for two stellar covers: the Bee Gees song “You Should Be Dancing” and the Queen hit “Somebody to Love.”

    Other artists worth mentioning that cranked it to “11”: Big Freedia with her infectious NOLA bounce music; The Village People, who brought the costumes and the YMCA; and Miley Cyrus, who won over lots of new fans with a passionate, rousing two plus hour set on Saturday and talked a lot about … well, “smiling faces” and bare chests. “This is the true definition of heaven,” she added with a wink, saying that for those who want to see her chest, “… you have to buy tickets to my tour.”

    Thank you, BottleRockers & our celebrity chefs, for bringing your love to Napa. It really was a slice of music, food & wine heaven. I’ll see you for BottleRock 2022 over Memorial Day weekend in May (May 27–29, 2022).

    Cheers, Liam

    For More Information

    BottleRock Napa Valley https://www.bottlerocknapavalley.com/home/
    Big Freedia http://www.bigfreedia.com/
    Foo Fighters https://www.foofighters.com
    Miley Cyrus https://www.mileycyrus.com
    Village People http://www.officialvillagepeople.com
    World Central Kitchen (founded by Chef José Andrés)
    https://wck.org
    https://mingsbings.com/

    Emmy Award-winning radio and television personality Liam Mayclem is regularly featured on KPIX as well as KCBS, where he is the popular Foodie Chap. Born in London, Mayclem is now at home in the Bay Area, where he lives with his husband, photographer Rick Camargo. For more information: https://www.bookliam.com/

    Published on September 9, 2021