Our Picks for the Four Hottest Tickets at This Weekend's SF Chefs.Food.Wine. Fest

This weekend's first-ever SF Chefs.Food.Wine culinary festival is a chance to get up close and personal with local food and wine talent through tastings, classes, and even a cocktail contest. The cost might make you balk (ticketed events are $40 and up, day passes $150), but keep in mind that old adage that you get what you pay for.

Still, if your bank account isn't so bountiful, you can always take the freebie volunteer route. No guarantee at this late date that you'll get an email response from organizers, but it's worth a try. Just don't pull the lamest volunteer stunt ever — disappearing when it's time to clean up. Shame on you!

To make the most of the festival, we recommend these four events:

1. Thursday night's Opening Reception at Union Square, $125: See TyFlo and various chefs and bar talent (Brooke Arthur, Martin Cate, Marco Dionysos, Dominic Venegas, Thad Vogler, Carlos Yturria, Neyah White, Reza Esmaili) dish out the goods. Hey, since the reception is sponsored by the San Francisco Chronicle, you may even spot Michael Bauer! Chefs from Chez Papa Resto, Aziza, Pizzeria Zanna Bianca, Corso, Gitane/Café Claude, The Chef's Table, Circa, Butterfly, Absinthe, Poleng Lounge, Midi, RNM, Frances, and the Moss Room will be there.

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