Lucia Watson spills the beans

Top chef and author Lucia Watson teams with local food experts Carolyn Denton and JoAnn Berkenkamp at the "Eat Yourself Healthy Spring Retreat at the Arboretum" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 16 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. Watson, who owns Lucia's in Uptown, will share personal recommendations on a variety of local growers, producers and local food outlets. More info will come from Carolyn Denton, a licensed nutritionist, and JoAnne Berkenkamp, director for local foods at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. The event concludes with a luncheon designed by Watson, although activities continue throughout the afternoon. The retreat fee of $40 (member) and $50 (nonmember) includes the spring luncheon.

A retreat bonus on Friday evening is a cooking class by arboretum chef Jenny Breen, preparing a three-course meal with wine pairings. Her "Eat Yourself Healthy" demo is from 6:30 to 9 p.m., and is $50 (member) or $60 (nonmember). To register for either event, call 952-443-1422 or visit the website arboretum.umn.edu.

Congrats to Catherine and carnivores

Catherine Friend won our hearts with her memoir, "Hit by a Farm," so we're happy to see that she won an actual award with (deep breath), "The Compassionate Carnivore: Or How to Keep Animals Happy, Save Old MacDonald's Farm, Reduce Your Hoofprint, and Still Eat Meat" (Da Capo Press, $24). Friend earned the top award for general nonfiction at the recent Minnesota Book Awards.

As a farmer who loves, raises and eats animals, Friend explored the contradictions of raising animals humanely and responsibly and offers some consumer tips. As she told Taste writer Rick Nelson: "Start paying attention, stop wasting so much meat, order less at restaurants, use your leftovers." Friend farms near Zumbrota with her partner of 24 years, sharing her life with sheep, llamas, dogs, cats, ducks and chickens. To learn more about her and her farm, go to risingmoonfarm.com.

Gluten-free wine dinner

The latest statistics say that one in every 133 Americans has celiac disease, a digestive disorder triggered by gluten in wheat, barley and other grains. Wildfire Eden Prairie already offers a gluten-free menu year-round, and now is hosting its first gluten-free wine dinner on May 18 for $55, with a presentation by executive chef Larry Donahue on gluten-free living.

The four-course meal will be "specialty pizzas, citrus-cured salmon, braised short rib and a pear tartlet, each masterfully paired with a gluten-free wine." Most wines don't have gluten; even celiac.com says wine is safe. But some experts contend that some wines may be aged in barrels that once held a gluten product. Asking questions is the lot in life for those with celiac disease. To make a reservation, call Chelsea Buhrt at 952-914-9100. To view the evening's full menu, visit wildfirerestaurant.com.

Contest alert

The Cooking Light Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest is accepting entries through May 15 online at cookinglight.com/marketplace. The four categories are starters and drinks, sides and salads, family dinners and desserts. Each recipe must use one or more ingredients from contest sponsors: Mexican Haas Avocado Importers Association, Al Fresco Chicken Sausage, Bush's Best, Del Monte, Eggland's Best, Lindsay Olives, Newman's Own, Over the Moon, and Swanson Broth and Stock. The overall grand prize winner will receive $20,000, in addition to all that good health.

KIM ODE