I understand you've described your cuisine as evocative. Tell me how so?
Because we've taken care to cook in service of the valley and this place, the cuisine evokes the raw natural beauty of the surrounding property, its resources and its people. Couple this with the customization that comes from our conversations with guests, and you get a meal that is very personal.
How has your cuisine evolved?
A few years back, it was more about showing what we could do, displaying our collective talents and techniques. I believe the Restaurant has evolved to tell a story, to bring guests on a journey.
I've heard you're very active in philanthropic activities in your community. How does philanthropy fit into your life and your work as a chef?
You wake up one day and realize you're part of the community, feel beholden to it and are inspired to contribute to its vitality. On a specific level we work a lot with the St. Helena Montessori school, whose land we use to grow our culinary garden. We work with the kids and cook lunches with them.
Your website has two stories I found fascinating. The first was your involvement with the local Montessori school, both in terms of the garden and in getting the children involved with cooking. What was your inspiration for this?
I spoke about this a bit above. Basically I had the opportunity to partner with the school to grow this garden and work with the students. It's a benefit to us because we get fresh produce we grow ourselves, but also it's a benefit to impart some wisdom on future generations about growing our own food and the importance of agriculture.
The second was your commitment to fostering relationships and showcasing the work of local artisans, in particular those working in ceramics. Having looked at the images of your plated dishes I can see how dramatic the impact of having custom plates and bowls is. It seems most chefs have a preference for white plates. What made you strike out in this very unique direction?
Our food is inspired by the surrounding region, by the products and places here. I felt it only made sense to carry this philosophy into our dinner ware and create something truly unique and specific to The Restaurant and to Napa Valley.
About: Meadowood Napa Valley