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"America's Favorite Tomato Festival"

In 2008, Gary Ibsen announced his retirement of the Carmel TomatoFest event.

Take a visual tour and see why Gary Ibsen's Carmel TomatoFest was "America's Favorite Tomato Festival" for 17 years. Since 2008, there has not been another similar event that has showcased a tasting and display of 350 varieties of tomatoes for tasting and achieved the national recognition and popularity as the "TomatoFest". Take a look at this 2008 newspaper article reviewing the history and plans for TomatoFest.

Tomato Tasting
Tomato Tasting
Click Image to Enlarge

What started out in 1995 as a small get together for my family and a few chef friends, as a 'backyard' tomato tasting event to celebrate my tomato harvest, had grown into an annual fundraiser that attracted chefs, wineries, tomato growers and 3300 tomato lovers from across the United States and other nations.

From the family's backyard the TomatoFest moved to a prime piece of farm land on the Carmel River, that used to be the Carmel Egg Ranch. At this location the TomatoFest grew to an attendance of 250 persons annually. After 2 years the TomatoFest moved to what would become it's final home, The Quail Lodge Resort in Carmel Valley, CA.

In the years that followed, news of the Carmel TomatoFest and Gary Ibsen's heirloom tomatoes reached households across America, Asia & Europe through newspapers, consumer general interest and food & wine magazines, travel magazines, food trade magazines and culinary newsletter & blogs. Many of the articles referenced below can be viewed in the News & Media section.

Travel & Leisure, Wine Country magazine, Sunset magazine, The American Gardener magazine, SAVEUR, Garden Compass magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, The San Francisco Examiner, Reader's Digest, The San Francisco Chronicle, United Airlines Hemispheres magazine, The San Jose Mercury News, Food Arts, Martha Stewart LIVING, Country Living Gardener, The American Gardener, New Asia Cuisine, The Monterey County Herald, Art of The West, Southwest Airlines SPIRIT magazine and many more.

Chefs Tomato Dish Photos
Click on any chefs dish photo below to go to the chefs photo page.

Trachy Griffith w/Farallon Chef
Tracy Griffith with Farallon Chef


Folks who attended The Carmel TomatoFest experienced a wondrous feast of delights each year, that included; an unforgettable tasting display of more than 350 heirloom tomato varieties from around the world (probably the world's largest tomato tasting); exceptionally delicious and innovative tomato dishes created by many of America's top chefs; a tasting of more than 200 premium wines; an amazing "Salsa Showcase" tasting of 100, commercially available, tomato salsas; an old-fashioned country BBQ; an "International Olive Oil Tasting;" celebrity chef and gardening demonstrations; a tasting of great tomato-related specialty foods; sales of hard-to-find fresh heirloom tomatoes and heirloom tomato seeds; live music and dancing under Carmel Valley's oak-covered hillsides. Check out these past photos of the Carmel TomatoFest.

During its tenure, The TomatoFest was indeed America's most spectacular tomato harvest festival. It embraced the celebration of the season's tomato harvest, and in its sharing of chefs, farmers, winemakers, wine & food lovers, and the family (including children), it celebrated community. During it's 17 years the Carmel TomatoFest has donated more than $240,000.00 to local, regional and national charities to benefit children.

To the many chefs, sponsors, wineries, volunteers, friends and fans of the TomatoFest over the years...thank you. It took up to 450 volunteers each year to put on this event for our community and without their assistance the TomatoFest event would not have been possible. I am truly grateful to all.

~ Gary Ibsen


Quotes

"The perfect harvest party...tomatoes at their best...a veritable nirvana of tomato delights." - Sunset Magazine

"...these are seriously gourmet tomatoes." - San Francisco Examiner

"Expand your tomato horizons... with tomatoes turning up in recipes from puddings to pancakes (and ice cream). The TomatoFest? is proving tomatoes aren't just for salads anymore." - San Jose Mercury News