Top Chef Popularity Overwhelms Charlie Palmer

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This is one of the cute, unnamed swine who'll be sacrificed this year. Photo: J. DeRuy

A large block of ticket holders for Charlie Palmer's fifth annual Healdsburg pork-a-palooza Pigs & Pinot are in for some disappointment. Due to an unfortunate technical glitch with the reservations system, the March 19th tasting event was oversold by a couple of hundred tickets. The bad news is going out to supposedly confirmed ticket holders via e-mail. Full weekend packages at the Hotel Healdsburg sold out within an hour of being available by phone, Palmer told us, and à la carte event tickets disappeared within minutes of going online.

"We could have sold a couple thousand tickets to this thing," he said, seeming almost embarrassed. "But there just isn't any room unless we built a new restaurant." Increased crowds could be sourced to last season's "Pigs & Pinot" episode of Top Chef. "I guess I should have thought of that before I went on TV," Palmer told us. The Top Chef-heavy roster at the Taste of Pigs & Pinot and the Gala Dinner surely spiked demand, too. Finalists Bryan Voltaggio (a former Palmer apprentice) and Kevin Gillespie are cooking at both events, along with La Folie chef Roland Passot and the Food Network's Tyler Florence.

Palmer is trying to make things right by giving first dibs on next year's tickets to those who were turned away this year, in addition to refunding their tickets. Small consolation: the Hotel Healdsburg is offering "Pigs & Pinot-phile" packages throughout the month of March, which will feature a special pork-centric tasting menu at Dry Creek Kitchen.

Earlier: Top Chef Gets Funky, Hairy [Grub Street]