In the summer of 1988 Chef Bob Hurley planted his roots firmly in the California Wine Country, first as a chef at Domaine Chandon, then later as Executive Chef at the Napa Valley Grille. Chef Bob Hurley is a world traveler and a devotee of the culture, cuisine and lifestyle of many other countries. His years of trekking and working around the world provide the basis for his theory that Napa Valley is no longer a melting pot of cuisines from the rest of the world; but they have come together to create a Napa Valley regional cuisine. Chef Hurley says that concurrent with the development of the Napa Valley’s prestigious wine industry, the origins and methods of local cooking have changed. Prior to the wine industry’s rise to prominence, cuisine of the Napa Valley was often prepared using methods defined by the limitations of experience. Then with the success of the wine industry, its corresponding tourism and the plethora of cooking schools, the food of the region has become influenced and includes the tastes of Asia, Europe and Mexico, as well as other regional and ethnic areas of the United States.
Since Chef Hurley began cooking professionally more than 30 years ago, he has always had a strong belief that the use of regional, seasonal ingredients is important on many different levels. It promotes sustainability, showcases local producers and provides the finest dining experience to the customer. He says that the Napa Valley is particularly blessed with a wide range of such products, from produce and meats to fish and fruits, as well as artisanal breads, cheeses, oils and much more. This philosophy is a guiding light behind the menu development at Hurley’s Restaurant.
Chef Michael Chiarello, Executive Chef & Owner
Bottega Ristorante / Yountville
After graduating from The California Culinary Academy with honors, Grant worked for three years at Chaya Brasserie under the tutelage of renowned Executive Chef of the Chaya Restaurant Group, Shigefumi Tachibe, the inventor of tuna tartare and lead innovator in the creation of the French/Asian fusion cuisine that is now a fine dining mainstay.
As a San Francisco native with a rich connection to the regional seafood of the California coast, Chef Schley brings his passion for, and skill in preparing seafood in particular to his new Sausalito waterfront culinary home. Chef Schley began his culinary career as a butcher with San Francisco’s finest meat and seafood purveyor, Bryan’s Meats. He has taught butchery at the California Culinary Academy and is widely recognized as one of the most proficient technical practitioners of meat and seafood selection and preparation in the Bay Area.
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L’Esperance is a California native, born and raised on the beach, where her passion for the ocean was ignited at an early age, which led to her dedication to sustainable seafood throughout her esteemed career. L’Esperance is a member of multiple chef-driven groups looking to make positive change in America’s food systems, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) and The James Beard Foundation, with whom she advocates food policy on Capitol Hill. Committed to using viable ingredients, Chef’s cooking parallels perfectly with the Tavern’s mission to provide their guests with garden-fresh, delicious dishes.
L’Esperance’s love for cooking started at the age of five when she would pretend to have her own cooking show in her parents’ kitchen. Diving into the culinary industry, L’Esperance moved to San Francisco and started working with some of the best chefs in the area. After some time in the industry, with the skills she’d gained and growing knowledge of sustainable practices, she moved to Santa Cruz to become the Executive Chef of Costanoa resort and several notable area restaurants. In 2012, L’Esperance started her own company, Morganics, which aids in the prevention of produce waste in farmer markets.
Tomas Keller, Executive Chef/Baker & Owner
The French Laundry & Bouchon Bakery / Yountville
At fourteen his father helped him secure a summer position in the private dining room kitchen at Moet & Chandon, working under chef Joseph Thuet. He received special attention and training at Thuet's hand for the next three years and this secured his decision to make his life's work as a chef.
Philippe Jeanty came to California in 1977 with the first team from Epernay, France to open the Chandon Restaurant in Yountville. In a year's time he was made executive chef. A fine dining restaurant had never existed in the wine country before. Now residents and visitors could experience classic French Haute Cuisine in the bucolic setting of the Napa Valley.
The next twenty years of accolades, awards, and praise from customers and critics proved that Jeanty was one of America's finest chefs. His creative style introduced new flavors and dishes to the thousands of diners at Chandon during this time. He began to look for a new challenge in 1997. His thoughts turned to his home in France. He decided to create a bistro where he could recreate all those favorite foods of his childhood. But with his heart and his family (wife and two daughters) in Yountville, Philippe Jeanty opened the doors of Bistro Jeanty in April of 1998. Since then the doors have barely had a chance to swing shut. The crowds of patrons continue to come from around the world for the opportunity to dine in a true French bistro in America.
"I am a proponent of the 'fusion' approach to cooking, drawing from a number of culinary traditions in the preparation of fresh seafood. If there is any talent involved, it is in knowing how to blend the elements of different cultural cuisines together harmoniously, without over-elaboration. I particularly enjoy working with seafood. Fresh seafood has delicate flavors which require a subtle touch with the seasoning but are amenable to a host of different cooking techniques.
Supply is always interesting, too. The weather, international economics, and marine biology are just a few factors that come into play. I work hard to keep my ideas fresh, stay abreast of the latest culinary trends, and bring the freshest available seasonal foods to our customers. I would be happy to answer questions or receive comments from any of our patrons."
In his role as Executive Chef of El Dorado Kitchen and El Dorado Wine Bar, Armando has infused the menus with seasonal ingredients sourced locally at the markets. His style is characterized as fresh, simple and approachable with a Sonoma sensibility.
Check back for real bio on this amazing chef soon! For now: Rick has extensive experience in the restaurant environment. French trained saucier, Rick's passion for the best food is unmatched. You have heard of "sleeper" films?
This is always a "sleeper stop" stop, due to the astounding flavors Rick achieves in one vegetarian bite.
Armando Navarro, Executive Chef
El Dorado Kitchen / Sonoma
Executive Chef, Armando Navarro, has had a noteworthy resume packed with top restaurants along both coasts. After five plus years as Executive Sous Chef at Auberge du Soleil, Armando went to New York where he trained under some of the best chefs at Le Bernardin, Jean Georges and Daniel Boulud.
Rick Vargas, Executive Chef
La Bodega / Sonoma
Eighteen years later, john is not only the Executive Chef but also the Managing Partner. John has been critical to the opening of the original restaurants and every project that followed. He has also had an important role in developing the girl & the fig’s FIG food product line and has developed the recipes for both the girl & the fig Cookbooks. The restaurant's farm to table experience then grew from the herb gardens at the restaurants to working a 2.5 acre biodynamic farm in Glen Ellen which is also under john’s care. 2015 marks the farms 5th harvest under his supervision. John believes his immersion in the farm project has taught him to be a better chef, giving him an intimate understanding of what seasonality really means.
John discovered a passion for creating salami, he mastered the artisanal art of curing meats and continues to teach our other chefs so they can keep up with the production. Under the brand Mano Formate, bacon, pancetta, prosciutto, guanciale, lonzo and salamiare just a few products that we produce in-house. John is a completely self-taught chef and enjoys developing new recipes, training new staff, but, most of all, understands the importance of consistency and endurance. “Food is my passion, I have been blessed to cook in the wine country where the commitment and dedication to exceptional products is of the highest importance. I am one of the lucky ones, I am able to pursue my passion and make my dreams become reality.”
John Toulze, Executive Chef
The Girl & the Fig / Sonoma
John Toulze is a native of Northern California from a third generation French family. Cooking was, and continues to be, a strong passion in his family life. John started his career in hospitality at Viansa Winery in Sonoma in 1994. After several years of cooking and wine sales, John left Viansa winery in 1997 to help Sondra Bernstein open the girl & the fig restaurant in Glen Ellen. At the girl & the fig, John’s role was varied as he divided his work between the sous chef and floor manager. During the second year of business, John took over the kitchen as the Chef de Cuisine and continued to define the restaurant’s “country food with a French passion” focus.
Keller began his culinary career at a young age, working in the Palm Beach restaurant managed by his mother. He relocated to France in 1983, where he worked in several Michelin-starred houses including Guy Savoy and Taillevent. He opened his first restaurant, Rakel, in New York City in 1986, then moved westward to California to work as the Executive Chef at the Checkers Hotel in Los Angeles.
Benjamin Balesteri was born in Monterey and raised in the Salinas Valley. The Swiss farming family on his mother’s side gave him an appreciation of growing seasonal vegetables, artisanal cheese, and seasonally butchered meats. The Sicilian fishermen on his father’s side taught him how to fish in the Monterey Bay and the best ways to prepare freshly caught fish and seafood and bring out their unique qualities.
Balesteri, now 32 years old, showed a natural aptitude for the culinary arts. He began working in restaurants at an early age, and eventually enrolled in culinary school at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Through visiting chefs, he was given an opportunity at Tra Vigne to travel to Italy. His time in Italy was both familiar and inspiring to him and it was during this period of his life that he learned firsthand his own Italian culture as well as the language. “Just like the people in Italy, I’m guided by what’s available in the wild and in the garden,” Balesteri explains. “In Italy, they don’t manipulate food, but rather, bring out what’s best about it. I do this at Poggio, as well.”
Sausalito & Tiburon Tours
Bob Hurley, Executive Chef & Owner
Hurley's Restaurant & Bar / Yountville
Executive Chef, Mo L'Esperance
He returned to California and worked at Jardiniere and Masa's before relocating to Redd in Yountville as the Chef de Cuisine. Prior to joining Sonoma’s El Dorado Kitchen, Armando was the Executive Chef at Larkspur Restaurant in Vail, Colorado.
Philippe Jeanty has had a life long love affair with food. His restaurant in Napa Valley is a classic example of his philosophy on food and restaurants. Fresh quality ingredients, exacting and demanding preparation, consistent service at the table, comfortable and informal surroundings. He was born in the Champagne region of France. This is a rural agricultural region where the wine is world famous for its' elegance and refinement. Philippe's father worked for the great Champagne house of Moet & Chandon.
Philippe Jeanty, Executive Chef & Owner
Bistro Jeanty / Yountville
In early 2012, the lure of fishing, surfing, and the country’s best fruits and vegetables brought Balesteri back to California, where he was welcomed home to Poggio. In early 2013, Balesteri was promoted to executive chef at Poggio where he is leading the kitchen and continuing the exciting house cured charcuterie, fresh pasta and culinary program the restaurant has become known for. “Growing up, great food was important to my family, but it was really about people coming together,” Balesteri said. “This is the tradition of Poggio that I intend to carry on.”
He is the author of six cookbooks (lauded by IACP and the James Beard Foundation), and serves as the tastemaker behind the NapaStyle retail line of artisanal foods, kitchenware and home décor. The Emmy Award-winning show Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello premiered on Food Network in 2003 and now airs daily on Cooking Channel.
Michael has also appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef and Top Chef Masters, and will compete on Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef in fall 2011.
His Consorzio Flavored Oils earned the "Best Product Line Award" at the International Fancy Food Show, and he brings his passion for sustainability to Chiarello Family Vineyards which features high-scoring small-production wines. Influenced by his Italian family of butchers, cheese makers and ranchers, Michael graduated from CIA and was named Food & Wine Chef of the Year just three years after graduation.
Keller is the author of five cookbooks, of which more than one million copies are in print. His award-winning “The French Laundry” cookbook debuted in 1999, followed by “Bouchon” and “Under Pressure,” a cookbook dedicated to sous vide preparations. He also authored “Ad Hoc at Home,” a book of family-style recipes that received awards from IACP and the James Beard Foundation, in addition to appearing on The New York Times Best Sellers list for six weeks in 2009 and 2010. His most recent project, The New York Times best selling cookbook “Bouchon Bakery,” was on The New York Times Best Sellers list for nearly two months after its release in October 2012
Phil Collins, Executive Chef
The Spinnaker / Sausalito
Nate Lindsay, Executive Chef
Lucy at the Bardessono / Yountville
is the executive chef of Bardessono Hotel & Spa, the luxurious, LEED Platinum Certified wine country retreat in the heart of Napa Valley. Lindsay oversees all aspects of the culinary experience at Bardessono and for Lucy Restaurant & Bar, the hotel’s award-winning, signature restaurant presenting innovative, garden-inspired cuisine that embodies the property’s “exceptional by nature” modern aesthetic and eco-spirit. Before taking the helm at Bardessono, Lindsay was the executive chef at the farm-to-fork restaurant, Jardenea, at Melrose Georgetown Hotel in Washington D.C. Lindsay embraces the philosophy of serving inventive dishes through artful presentations with the use of the highest quality seasonal ingredients. Noted by Parade Magazine as a chef who “takes the whole farm-to-table trend to a whole new level,” Lindsay’s talent at creating harvest-centric cuisine is revered by national media outlets and the DC community. Lindsay’s love affair with food has put his career onto the fast track within Remington Hotels, Luxury Division. Prior to his role as executive chef at Melrose Georgetown Hotel, Lindsay was a part of the preopening team at One Ocean Resort & Spa and Azurea Restaurant in Atlantic Beach, Fla., where he quickly assumed the position of executive sous chef. He spent time overseeing all food and beverage outlets at the Florida resort. Lindsay began his formal training at Connecticut Culinary Institute in Suffield,
Master Chef, Bhupender
Delhi Belly Bistro / Sonoma
In 1994, Keller took ownership of The French Laundry in Yountville, quickly garnering nationwide acclaim. The restaurant recently celebrated its 20th anniversary in July 2014, which is an accomplishment few American restaurants have achieved. His French bistro Bouchon debuted in 1998, with Bouchon Bakery following five years later, both in walking distance from The French Laundry.
Thomas Keller is renowned for his culinary skills and his exceptionally high standards. He has established a collection of restaurants that set a new paradigm within the hospitality profession. He is the first and only American-born chef to hold multiple three-star ratings from the prestigious Michelin Guide, as well as the first American male chef to be designated a Chevalier of The French Legion of Honor, the highest decoration in France. He has received countless accolades, including The Culinary Institute of America’s “Chef of the Year” Award and the James Beard Foundation’s “Outstanding Chef” and “Outstanding Restaurateur” Awards.
Grant Schley, Executive Chef
The Trident / Sausalito
Since then, he has spent 20 years honing his craft heading large kitchens with multiple concepts and offerings, such as The Rotunda Neiman Marcus, the Chalet Restaurant Group, Betelnut under SF Chronicle Three-Star Chef Alexander Ong, and the Chow restaurants, overseeing busy restaurant, catering and banquet operations. As a result, he has built longstanding relationships with the areas leading providers of sustainable produce, seafood, meat, and artisanal bakery and dairy – placing him in the front of the line for the finest and freshest ingredients available.
Benjamin Balesteri, Executive Chef
Poggio Trattoria / Sausalito
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Upon his return from Italy, he joined Poggio as a sous chef, and in 2010, he couldn’t resist the challenges of New York City and became the opening sous chef at Lincoln, working under acclaimed Chef Jonathan Benno.
With a career spanning over 30 years, Michael Chiarello is one of the country's most beloved chefs. In addition to his culinary accolades Chiarello is an accomplished winemaker, notable author, seasoned television host and creator of one of Napa's leading lifestyle brands.The chef and owner of critically acclaimed Napa Valley restaurant Bottega, his signature Mediterranean cooking style is inspired by his Southern Italian roots and the unparalleled region he calls home.
Sonoma Chamber of Commerce
Sonoma Valley Visitor Bureau
Sonoma County Tourism
Master Chef Bhupender has over two decades of experience in creating mouthwatering Indian dishes. After completing his culinary education, he began his career working at “Bukhara” restaurant in New Delhi, India.*Bukhara has been rated by Restaurant magazine as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world.
He later opened five successful restaurants in Monterey, California and its surrounding areas. He is the co-owner of Ambrosia India Bistro and the owner of Avatar Indian grill. His other accomplishments involve consulting services for such restaurants as “Safforn” in Southern California. He attempts to create new dishes out of the long standing staples of Indian cuisine. He also pays special attention to ensure quality ingredients which are healthy and delicious..
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