By Jeff Hocker

The wildly anticipated return of the Palm Springs Food and Wine Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday, November 11 & 12 at the Palm Springs Stadium Pavilion (1901 East Baristo Road). 40 acclaimed restaurants, 80 boutique wineries, tastings, sippings, pairings, live music (Jazzgrass) and demonstrations by celebrity chefs will all come together for a truly international celebration of cuisine and community.

The event is a benefit for the Fellows Program of the Culinary Institute of America, Les Dames D’Escoffier and DAP Health. Special guest emcee for the weekend is Emmy® Award winner Liam Mayclem, known to legions of San Francisco Bay Area fans as “The Foodie Chap” along with Patrick Evans, Emmy® Award winners Bianca Rae, Peter Daut and Sandie Newton of KESQ News Channel 3. Local favorites Nona Watson and Steven Henke will also seamlessly guide the demonstrations. Tickets may be purchased online at

“Palm Springs has become an incredible culinary destination,” said Jeff Hocker, event executive producer. “Palm Springs chef-owned restaurants bring a hip, innovative and mid-century bohemian taste sensation to the destination. And, unlike so many festivals, the Palm Springs Food and Fine Festival promises unlimited free parking, no fees on tickets and an easy going, casual vibe typical of this Desert Oasis.”

Attendees will engage with celebrity chef demonstrations from Martin Yan of “Yan Can Cook,” Susan Feniger of “Two Hot Tamales” and her new Palm Springs restaurant Alice B’s, Tanya Holland of “Tanya’s Kitchen Table” on the OWN Network, Chef Rogilio Garcia from Michelin Restaurant Auro, chefs Michael Chung and Andre Carthen of Kathy Ireland Worldwide and Food Network and Bravo TV celebrity chef Joe Sasto  plus a growing roster of incredible culinary masters.

Additionally, expert panels will be led by Shelley Lindgren, founder of San Francisco’s acclaimed restaurant A16, award winning sommelier Katie Finn of the Desert Wine Shop, and astronaut-turned-vintner José M. Hernández. Grape Encounters host David Wilson will be onsite doing interviews for his world renown podcast, based in Italy.

The Palm Springs Food and Wine Festival would not be possible without the support of The City of Palm Springs, Sotheby’s International Realty, Maker’s Mark, Prime Time Produce, Basil Hayden, Stolzle Lausitz, Chill Bar & Reforma, Kevin Crockett Law Group, Town Real Estate & Stars Travel, Sun Community Federal Credit Union, AAA, Costco Wholesale, Palm Springs Disposal, Team McTavish, Gravitas Wine Company, Kerry Hendrix & Eric Flora Capstone Partners, Hotel Zoso, 420 Bank Dispensary & Lounge, Jägermeister, Bright Event Rental, Mike Thompson RV Super Stores, Phyllis Eisenberg and more.

Media Partners for the Palm Springs Food and Wine Festival include: Los Angeles Magazine, KCBS Radio, KESQ News Channel 3, GED Magazine and Metrosource, Spectrum News, Grape Encounters, MeTV Radio 103.1 FM, KGAY 106.5 FM, David Perry & Associates, Inc, Kathleen Bennett – Resort Marketing, Desert Charities News, CV Independent, Desert Sun, Marker Broadcasting, Alpha Media, The Standard Magazine, Desert Business Association and Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce.

For more information visit

Chef Joe Sasto

From a very young age, Joe Sasto knew that he wanted to be a Chef. Sasto’s mother had always recognized his talent, passion, and love of the culinary arts. Learning to cook by his mother’s side, Joe became ignited when in the kitchen. After earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Davis, Sasto dove headfirst into the culinary and restaurant industry, training under some of the Bay Area’s most respected and honorable Chefs. After traveling through Europe, Sasto brought his inspiration to Quince Restaurant. It was at Quince in San Francisco where Sasto’s passion for pasta truly began. Under Chef Michael Tusk, Sasto was trusted to manage the handmade pasta program, learning the traditions and roots from one of the world’s most celebrated, Italian-influenced chefs. Later, during his time as Executive Sous Chef at Lazy Bear in San Francisco, Sasto maintained his strong, cultivated relationships with local farmers, showcasing the beautiful produce of California. A natural leader, Sasto quickly became recognized for his abilities, respectfully contributing to the rise of restaurants such as two-Michelin starred Lazy Bear, and three-Michelin starred Quince. A very driven Chef, Sasto has opened restaurants as Executive Chef in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California.

In 2017, Sasto began focusing on pursing the goal of opening his own restaurant, traveling the country hosting private events, fine-dining dinner parties, pasta classes, and pop-up feasts. When the global pandemic began in March 2020, Sasto ceased travel and pivoted. Chef Joe started to virtually teach both public and private livestream pasta lessons weekly, consulting with brands, curating food-focused content, and developing recipes, all while garnering a strong social media following. Sasto excelled due to his passion for food, as well as his ability to connect with others through music, his personality, and an approachable culinary lens.

Recently, Sasto launched his limited production and highly coveted focaccia popup, Luna Focacceria. Chef Joe also developed a high-end customizable pasta and pizza tool line with well-known knife maker and blacksmith Doghouse Forge. Sasto is currently set to release a puffed pasta snack line, entitled Tantos, and is working on his first cookbook. You may recognize Chef Joe from networks such as The Food Network and Bravo, have seen his win on The Food Network’s “Chopped”, and has seen him compete on NBC’s Top Chef and Top Chef All-Stars. Joe was recently featured in Food Network’s inaugural “Hot List” 2022.

Iconic Culinarian, Author, & Entrepreneur Susan Feniger

Susan Feniger may be best known for her Modern Mexican concept, Border Grill restaurants, trucks, and catering, which she runs with her business partner of more than 40 years, Mary Sue Milliken. Now with locations in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Border Grill continues to serve street food-inspired regional Mexican cuisine with a commitment to sustainability and the best quality ingredients.

In 2018, Feniger and Milliken debuted BBQ Mexicana, a fast casual eatery now with four locations in Las Vegas; in late 2019 the chefs opened Socalo, a California canteen and Mexican Pub serving seasonal SoCal Mexican fare in Santa Monica; and most recently the duo launched Pacha Mamas, featuring seared skewers a la plancha and freshly composed ceviche, at Allegiant Stadium and T-Mobile Arena.  Later this year, the duo will open two new restaurants, a fifth BBQ Mexicana location in Las Vegas plus a new restaurant at Living Out, an LGBTQ+ active senior community in Palm Springs, called Alice B.

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, she made a groundbreaking move in joining the nearly all-male kitchen at Chicago’s Le Perroquet, serendipitously meeting the only other woman in the kitchen—Mary Sue Milliken.

Feniger and Milliken brought their innovative approaches to The Food Network with nearly 400 episodes of the “Too Hot Tamales” and “Tamales World Tour” series. They also were the original co-hosts of the popular food-centric radio show, KCRW’s “Good Food,” in L.A. Susan has co-authored six cookbooks, including Susan Feniger’s Street Food and competed on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” in 2010.

In 2018, Feniger and Milliken were named the recipients of the fourth annual Julia Child Award from The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, marking the first women to be honored. The distinction complements additional accolades, including the Elizabeth Burns Lifetime Achievement Award from the California Restaurant Association in 2013; earned induction into Menu Masters Hall of Fame in 2014; and the 2018 Gold Award from the Los Angeles Times for culinary excellence and innovation in Southern California.

After working for Wolfgang Puck at Ma Maison in L.A., Feniger went to the French Riviera to further hone her skills and returned to open City Café with Milliken in 1981, forever changing L.A.’s culinary landscape by introducing eclectic dishes from around the world. That evolved into the larger CITY Restaurant in 1985—and the introduction of Border Grill as a simple spot for authentic home cooking and street foods of Mexico informed by the duo’s treks through the country. A James Beard Award that same year confirmed their impact on the nation’s cuisine.

Feniger is an active member of the community, and currently sits on the boards of the Scleroderma Research Foundation, Los Angeles LGBT Center, and L.A. Tourism & Convention Board; works closely with Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, Share Our Strength, and Human Rights Campaign; and co-founded Chefs Collaborative.

Conversation with the Chef

By Greg Foster

What was the impetus for you to choose cooking as a career, and when did you know that this was the path you were going to take?

My mom was a great cook. She tasted all the time, re-seasoned, then taste again! The key I think to being a good cook! When I was in my first year of college studying economics, I was working in a kitchen doing prep, dish etc! I LOVED it and the head cook/ chef said, “why are you studying economics?” and he was right! I convinced my econ professor to let me do my last year of college at the CIA!

How long have you and Mary Sue Milliken been partners and how did you meet?

Since 1981! We first met in Chicago at Le Perroquet, an incredible French restaurant, as the first women ever to work in the prestigious kitchen! I went on to California to work with Wolfgang Puck at Ma Maison. We met again in France where Milliken worked at Restaurant d’Olympe in Paris, and I was at L’Oasis, a three-star restaurant on the French Riviera. We knew then we would work together some day.

Tell us a little about working in a mostly male dominate environment when you first started out.

I never minded. I was a tomboy, also I think being Out as a lesbian gave me a certain “pass”! For sure I got paid less than the guys… but my focus was learn all I could… knowing my goal was to open my own place so it was get as much experience as I could!

Why did you choose Mexican Cuisine to be the focus of your cooking?

I worked with so many guys from Mexico for years. They made some incredible staff meals, and I thought you cannot find this food anywhere!!! Let’s do that! It was let’s do a taco stand or a Japanese noodle house! Taco stand won out!!!

What was your experience like working on The Food Network?

FUN, educational, first time I work makeup, easy only a 14-hour day, done by 6 and the went out at night to party in NYC!!! So fun and cool!

You have been awarded many culinary accolades, which one means the most to you?

FOR SURE the Julia Child Award from the Smithsonian Museum! The dinner honoring us was surreal! Having an exhibit next to Julia’s kitchen permanently is the absolute highlight! She was amazing!!!

Your latest endeavor will be opening a restaurant in Palm Springs at Living Out, an LGBTQ+ active senior community. Why did you choose Palm Springs?

A friend of mine was opening this high-end apartment complex to create a community where LGBTQ adults could celebrate their lives in a safe environment . He wanted us to create a restaurant open to the public with someone from our community… I LOVED the idea.

In addition to the Palm Springs restaurant, what’s next for you?

We are also opening another Vegas location called BBQ MEXICANA – a quick casual eatery with a drive thru! That’s opening December too! Also, we bought a building for our commissary where we do 25000+ meals a week for those who are food insecure.

If you have any, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I love politics, theater, JAZZ, giving back to my community!