Some of my new peeps.

They say Napa is all about the food and wine. And, no doubt, I enjoyed some food last weekend that was out of this world.

But, for me, Napa was more about the people.

Thanks to the gracious people from Bush’s Beans, I had the privilege to travel to Napa to cook at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA for short) for a day with three other bloggers. Sandy from Reluctant Entertainer, Tina from Mommy’s Kitchen, and Aggie from Aggie’s Kitchen were my cohorts in the culinary adventure. They’re wonderful, beautiful ladies, inside and out. We had great fun in the kitchen.

I’m so tickled for the chance to get to know each lady – hope to see them again soon!

We cooked, ate and shared creative ways to use beans. It was a blast. (Be on the lookout for new recipes that I’ll be posting soon adding to my Bodacious Bean recipe file.)

Ken, Katie, and Christina, all representing Bush’s Beans, were our hosts along with Connie Guttersen.

Their genuineness and relaxed demeanor was passed on to all of us. You feed off of people like that. I have to admit that I left home a little concerned about not measuring up or feeling uncomfortable, but they certainly set me at ease immediately. Their companies hired well.

Under the direction of Connie Guttersen, R.D., Ph.D., author of The Sonoma Diet, and Andy Wild from the CIA, we managed not to lose any digits and succeeded in cooking up some tasty eats.

Connie Guttersen is as refreshing and positive about what she does as anyone I’ve ever met. She’s a real encourager.

She knows her stuff and was a wealth of information in the kitchen. She’s an encourager – a cheerleader. Connie will be starting her own personal blog soon and I can’t wait to share it with you as soon as it premiers.

Andy Wild from the CIA was our instructor in the kitchen for the day.

I’m not sure what he thought about all of us taking pictures of every single thing he said and did, but I was thankful that he was chosen to be our go-to man.

He taught us the basics in knife skills as well as other tips.

I was sad to say goodbye to the CIA Friday afternoon. It truly was a day I’ll not forget.

Later that night my husband (yep, Randy was able to go with me and I’m so glad he did) and I met Michelle from What’s Cooking and her husband, Glenn at Ad Hoc for dinner.

Once again the food was fabulous but the company was even better. We laughed and talked for hours, practically closing the place.

Look how cute and tan she is? And I’m so, so…pink.

How is it that you can meet people for the first time in real life and feel like you’ve known them forever? It’s amazing to me. Michelle is a forever kind of a friend. Be sure to check out her site – especially if you’re interested in cooking with kids.

I know this sounds like a bunch of hiney kissing, but honestly, everywhere we visited over the weekend we met super people. Whether a cab driver, wait staff, door man, or a stranger on the street, at every turn there was a smiling face, a helpful hand – definitely noteworthy hospitality. And I’m from the South where we’re known for hospitality.

Truly the people made our experience a real treat and I’m very thankful for that.

(While Bush’s Beans covered much of the cost of our trip, no one paid me to say these nice things. There are nice people in this world – real nice people – everywhere. No bull. Nice people. Nice.)

Sign Up for Email Updates

Subscribe here to have all updates delivered to your email.


  1. 5


    What I love is that we all have our own flavor of how the event went! Splendid!

    And so nice to see you … TWICE IN ONE MONTH! Who would have ever thought that would happen?

    It was truly a great experience with some of the nicest people.

    Nice is good!

    Love ya, Amy. Looking forward to SF again … soon.

  2. 6

    Michelle (What's Cooking) says

    I count myself lucky to have you as my new “forever friend” too! Really. And I’m not just being nice.

  3. 7

    Debbie says

    I just ordered it. If I had done it on Feb 22nd when Amazon sent me an e-mail, it would have been 30. Procrastination cost me an extra 1.50. Oh well, I got free shipping. :-)

  4. 8

    Aggie says

    Seriously Amy, can we do it all again? What an amazing adventure. So happy to have you as a new friend!

  5. 9

    Lynne A says

    Man, that’s a beautiful place! Really glad you had a good time at the CIA. Are you an agent now? 😀

  6. 12


    Looks like you had a wonderful time. What a wonderful experience with great new friends. And you don’t look pink!

  7. 13

    cbp says

    Great pictures… how fun to “meet” your new peeps! If they’re half as fun as you are I’m sure you all had a wonderful time. Cooking at the CIA sounds like dream come true. Can’t wait to try some of your new recipes. We love sharing you with the rest of the world but we’re so glad you’re home!

  8. 14

    Nana says

    I’d like to thank Bush’s Beans for your trip to Napa and also thank Randy for going with you. “Why?” you ask? Well it’s plain and simply—I got to stay with two of my five grandchildren, who happen to be five of the sweetest, cutest and smartest kids around.

    (Amy, if there are any other companies out there that would like you to go somewhere just say yes and I’ll be there.)

    Again thanks Bush’s, not only for a wonderful time for Amy, but for me, too and for all your good bean products.

    Hugs to all,

  9. 15


    Hey jealousy… I’ll admit it. Green with jealousy. Looks like an absolute blast!
    And your new camera is taking lovely photos with you working your magic behind it. Are you loving it?

  10. 18

    Denise says

    Sounds like the trip exceeded all expectations…great experiences, ideas, photos, and especially new friends! So glad for you and can’t wait to hear about it soon, Amy!

  11. 19


    That sounds like such a fun time! That black bean dish looks excellent, I hope you’ll be sharing that recipe. Black beans are my FAVORITE bean! I feel like I am constantly buying 5 or 6 cans each time I’m at the grocery store.

  12. 20

    Tickled Red says

    How lovely! Making friends and having new adventures is what life is all about. It looks like you were surround by so wonderful people and had a blast! Thanks for sharing :)

  13. 22

    Amanda says

    It looks like you have a fabulous time! I am so thrilled for you! I hate I missed your call. I called you the next day but missed you. Maybe we can talk sometime this week.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *