2022 Mendocino Coast Purple Urchin Festival  

Join us June 17th to June 19th, 2022 as we celebrate these delicious, invasive, spiky creatures. This will be a weekend of incredible food prepared by world-class chefs, hands-on education about the complex ecology of our Pacific Ocean, cracking and preparation demos, and so much more!

Proceeds benefit the amazing work being done by the Noyo Center and the Mendocino Area Parks Association.

Sate your appetite

Feast

Explore purple urchin on the plate as some of the region’s best chefs serve up unique dishes featuring this incredible ingredient. Purchase meals individually from participating restaurants.

During the three-day festival, some of the most beloved and iconic local hotels and restaurants along the coast, including The Harbor House Inn, Little River Inn, Noyo Harbor Inn, Glendeven Inn & Lodge, The Inn at The Cobbler’s Walk, Elk Cove InnPrincess Seafood Market & Deli and the new Izakaya Gama in Point Arena, will be serving urchin-focused menus and specials.

Satisfy Your Curiosity

Learn

Discover more about the purple urchin and ocean ecology than you thought possible with our panels of experts. Learn about what we eat, and its delicate place in the overall ecosystem – how the interplay of purple urchin with local kelps impacts other aspects of the food chain (such as abalone), how a downward spiral in sea star population led to a surge in purple urchin numbers, and what is being done and can be done to help improve the situation.

The Mendocino Area Parks Association, Watermen’s Alliance, and Freedive Shop will be providing demos and instructional demos and hands-on experiences. Urchinomics,  a restorative seafood company, will also play a part in the festival by supplying select restaurant partners with purple urchin (‘uni’). Urchinomics is a company dedicated to restoring kelp forests by removing overgrazing barren sea urchins, feeding them on land, and selling them on to distributors and restaurants.

An Important Ecological Issue

Explore

Why a focus on urchin now? And why purple urchin? The chefs, educators, and residents of this area are deeply passionate about the interwoven ecological web of the beautiful and mysterious ocean that makes up the landscape of their daily lives on the Mendocino Coast. Abalone has long been a unique part of Mendocino – with local campfire cooking, seasonal tourism boosts, and signature festivals celebrating it as a delicacy. With the collapse of the sea star population, the exponential growth of purple urchin, and the subsequent decimation of the abalone population, residents are constantly looking for eco-friendly ways to resolve these intertwined issues.

Three Days of Urchin

Programming

Friday, June 17

12PM: Outdoor demo and 5-course purple urchin tasting menu ($150/pp) presented by Urchinomics and Chef Matthew Kammerer at Michelin-starred The Harbor House Inn. (additional $90/pp wine pairing option) Reservations available on Tock.

Saturday, June 18

10:30AM: Uni demo and educational talk at Van Damme State Beach. Sample fresh uni on the beach! Josh Russo from the Waterman’s Alliance and international free dive competitor Greg Fonts of The Freedive Shop demonstrate how to open and clean urchin. Participants will learn how to harvest urchin, the impact purple urchin has on other fisheries and innovative solutions to the problem. 

3PM: Sake Seminar at Little River Inn. Sake expert Kerry Tamura of World Sake Imports walks attendees through the best sakes from seven different Japanese prefectures, highlighting the features of the terroir in the glass. Guests will also learn a bit about urchin while sampling uni snacks. $80 per person.

Sunday, June 19

10AM: Join Natasha Benjamin and Ana Blanco, producers of the upcoming film Sequoias of the Sea, and Sheila Semans, Executive Director of the Noyo Center for Marine Science, as they provide an in-depth look at the sea creatures of the California Coast. A trailer of the documentary film will be shown at the event as well, which will take place in the Abalone Room at Little River Inn. Attendees are encouraged to make a (voluntary) donation to the Noyo Center for Marine Science. Complimentary coffee and scones will be served.

11AM-5PM:    Visit the Noyo Center for Marine Science to learn about all things Urchin and Kelp.

7:30PM: Live performance from musicians Cheryl Wheeler and Kenny White in Abalone Hall at Little River Inn. A limited number of tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets.

 

Discover New Flavors

Food Specials

Ongoing culinary specials throughout the weekend:

At Little River Inn, fresh house-made noodles with an urchin sauce and other uni specials (market price) will be on offer nightly, with an optional sake pairing from World Sake.

Elk Cove Inn will be presenting a special uni-themed menu to both guests of the inn, and non-guests as well, in their Sibo restaurant. Four appetizer and four entree options showcasing uni will be on offer, including a Sea Urchin Flan with a Light Lobster Cognac Sauce, and a Sea Urchin Risotto with a Mussel and Porcini Jus. Reservations must be made in advance here.

Izakaya Gama, helmed by Chef David Hopps, will celebrate uni in every form the entire weekend from 4-9PM. Various urchin dishes will be highlighted in their robatayaki, tempura, and raw preparations ($10-$16). Those booking the restaurant can avail of a 15% discount at their sister inn property, Wildflower, a boutique motel also located in Point Arena. Email info@izakaya-gama.com for reservations.

At Glendeven Inn & Lodge and The Inn at The Cobbler’s Walk, guests can select an opt-in special menu featuring an “uni scramble” at breakfast each day, and a decadent uni pasta will be offered each evening at the Wine Hour. (Both are complimentary to all guests.)

Noyo Harbor Inn will be offering an uni special at dinner each night of the festival (market price) at their HarborView Bistro & Bar, overlooking the scenic Noyo River.

Featured Chef

Matthew Kammerer

Chef Matthew Kammerer will be featuring purple urchin on his incredible menu at the Harbor House Inn all weekend long. Chef Matt cooks with urchin virtually year round, focusing on dishes that highlight the natural flavor of the urchin. He is an ardent believer in using purple urchin, adapting to the new ocean reality. 

Featured Chef

Jason Azevedo

Chef Jason Azevedo at the Little River Inn will be featuring purple urchin all weekend on the menu, in dishes that play on the inn’s historic connection to ocean-caught food.

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