The Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission is working with some of the nation’s most prestigious chefs this summer in a partnership with the Food Network.

The cable-TV channel is running several 25-second commercials in which chefs discuss California table grapes and demonstrate their favorite grape recipes.

In addition, the chefs appear in two- to three-minute spots on a special section of the Food Network’s website — — where they demonstrate their recipes.

The site also has information about the fruit, along with grape recipes and facts about California’s table grape industry, said Jim Howard, commission vice president.

The commercials kicked off the first week in June and will continue throughout the season.

Participating chefs:

  • Scott Boswell of Stella! restaurant in New Orleans demonstrating a California grape salad with spinach;

  • Holly Smith of Café Juanita in Kirkland, Wash., demonstrating a roasted grape risotto, a recipe that helped her win the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America Battle Grapes”;

  • Brad Farmerie of Public restaurant in New York;

  • Anthony Martin of Tru restaurant in Chicago; and

  • Zahra Bates, a mixologist at Providence restaurant in Los Angeles, who will demonstrate a cocktail using California grapes.
All the segments were staged in the kitchens of the chefs’ restaurants, so viewers will get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the country’s top eateries, Howard said.

“We definitely have a nice partnership with these chefs,” he added.

The commission also planned to participate in Food Fete in New York in late June.

In what Howard termed “speed dating for food editors,” about two dozen organizations were preparing to man stand-up tables where about 200 food editors could visit and “get exposure to thought-provoking ideas and story ideas,” he said.

The commission planned to talk about the latest health research involving table grapes and to emphasize an interesting characteristic of table grapes as an ingredient: “Almost anywhere you can use a tomato, you can use a grape,” Howard said.

The commission created recipes substituting grapes for tomatoes in a caprese salad with mozzarella and basil and in bacon-lettuce-and-tomato-like hors d’oeuvres, and in a grape green gazpacho.

By participating in Food Fete, the commission hoped to make grapes top of mind for food editors and to suggest ways to use them that they hadn’t considered previously, Howard said.

The commission also has set up season-long promotions with all major retailers and is encouraging supermarket chains to promote California grapes often, increasing the volume and quality of their ads, Howard said.

Retailers can arrange to participate in the commission’s Food Network program and in its major league baseball promotion that kicked off in Los Angeles June 11.

Besides Dodger Stadium, baseball parks in San Francisco, St. Louis, Toronto and Baltimore will sell California grapes and hold Grapes from California Day.

Retail volume contests are scheduled for each region.