Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said that the Berry Good Foundation event was free. According to the event website, "There will be a fee to attend Berry Good Night on a sliding scale (more details to come). All proceeds will benefit the Berry Good Food Foundation."
If you think you should attend this year's Berry Good Foundation event, get ready to have a good reason - the biggest culinary confab of the year in San Diego is scaling down, going back to its activist roots and will only take applications.
People have until July 15 to apply at berrygoodnight.com for 100 slots to the annual multi-course event, which is held at the six-acre La Jolla oceanview estate owned by Bill and Michelle Lerach.
Michelle Lerach, founder of the Berry Good Foundation, said the yearly get-together of chefs, farmers, ranchers, vintners, brewers and food writers from across San Diego and Baja had gotten too big, with more than 600 people attending in 2016. By limiting the guest list and asking people to make a case for why they should be there, she said, the focus will once again be on education, dialogue and activism.
"What started as a communal-esque dinner in 2010 turned into a party, a really big party," she said.
"When planning this year's, I said 'we really need to shake this up.' How do we take this idea of gathering and dialogue and make it for those who are there for the actual dialogue? ... People will be asked to make a commitment, to take action, so it doesn't just become 'woo hoo dinner!' then poof."
The revamped "Berry Good Night" for 2017 will be an interactive food summit, Lerach said, with stations located around the property dedicated to the issues of soil, water, meat, seafood, food waste and food justice. Its format is TEDx-inspired and will have a keynote speaker, Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank, a non-profit "Think Tank for Food."
The goal, Lerach said, is to educate and inspire people to make better decisions about the food they eat.
"The food choice I make not only has an effect on my body, but it has an effect on my community - is it grown by my neighbor? And finally what's the effect on the environment," she said.
"The food choice I make is just like the car choice I make, the plastic bag choice I make. It has an impact."