Image: courtesy of Evans Hotels.

What began 20 years ago as a small seated dinner at the then newly opened Lodge at Torrey Pines has since grown into one of the area’s premier culinary events. Celebrate the Craft is held on the Lodge’s outdoor Arroyo Terrace, overlooking Torrey Pines golf course and the Pacific Ocean beyond. San Diego chefs and food artisans are partnered with farms, winemakers, craft breweries, and distillers to showcase their creativity with local products. It allows us to meet the people who grow our food and feed the community.

The Venue

The Lodge at Torrey Pines looks like a century-old historic inn but was designed and painstakingly crafted a mere 20 years ago in the Greene & Greene Craftsman style. A proposed Torrey Pines Lodge was initially designed in 1958 by Richard George Wheeler to be developed on land leased from the city next to the La Jolla Municipal Golf Course. The following year, the City of San Diego terminated the lease, as few councilmen approved of Wheeler’s Japanese-inspired design.

In 1962, the Torrey Pines Inn was built in its place. San Francisco architect Takashi Enomoto designed the 74-room hotel and pro center in the sukiya-zukuri style. The Bill Evans family, owners of the Bahia Resort and Catamaran Hotel, purchased the hotel in 1995 and completely transformed it into a 170-room luxury resort, the Lodge at Torrey Pines.

The Event

Chef Jeff Jackson came to the Lodge from a 10-year stint at Shutters restaurant in Santa Monica. He started Celebrate the Craft in 2000 to showcase San Diego’s growing farm-to-table movement, collaborating with like-minded chefs and farms. “The ethos of my cooking and Bill Evans’s vision for the Lodge, the architecture, its naturalness,” Jackson explains, “just all fit hand in hand.” At the time, Jackson maintained relationships with many of his suppliers from the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market. “Celebrate the Craft came about to bring these farmers to San Diego and introduce them to the local culinary community,” Jackson says. And we’re so lucky he did. Jackson is now the corporate culinary advisor for Evans Hotels.

Executive chef Kelli Crosson coordinates the event. “It’s a big job scheduling the event and pairing chefs with farms and local artisans,” Crosson says. But it’s a gathering she looks forward to every year. Crosson has been with Evans Hotels for 14 years and heads up the Lodge’s restaurants. Chef Crosson’s menus change daily, depending on the seasonal ingredients available. “It‘s ingrained in my whole being,” she says. Her upbringing on a 40-acre citrus ranch in Central California informed Crosson’s philosophy of using local produce and provisions. And that hard-work farming ethic carries through to Celebrate the Craft and all its participants. Chefs can become well-known, but what about their suppliers? Crosson aims to make the event a celebration of the farmers. “It’s an inspiring opportunity for younger chefs to meet and cook with their purveyors. It’s what farm-to-table is all about,” says Crosson. “We want to ensure they understand the importance of using the freshest ingredients possible.”

Although he was classically trained and awarded the Bocuse d’Or USA gold cup for his French cooking, Jackson muses, “It’s much more difficult to cook simply—because there’s nothing to hide behind.” As he says proudly, Celebrate the Craft introduces us to that simple, fresh food “that touches your soul.”

21st Annual Celebrate the Craft

The Lodge at Torrey Pines

11480 North Torrey Pines Rd.

April 14, 2024 La Jolla, CA 92037



This year’s festival benefits The Ecology Center, a Regenerative Organic Certified farm and education center in San Juan Capistrano.


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About the Contributor
Martin Lindsay
Martin S. Lindsay is the board chair for the Culinary Historians of San Diego, a nonprofit providing free public lectures on food and culture. Find events and info on He also curates the historical blog Classic San Diego at