What is wine without food? Here are the chefs featured at the 17th Annual World of Pinot Noir.
Executive Chef Vincent Lesage, Bacara Resort & Spa
At the age of 30, Chef Vincent Lesage's impressive career already includes 3-Star Michelin restaurants in Paris as well as experience at some of the world’s most luxurious hotels. Born and raised in Paris at the center of the food universe, Lesage was surrounded by the rich flavors and techniques that define French gastronomy. But it was actually art that inspired him to become a chef. An avid art lover, he spent his spare time at the Louvre, studying the beautiful paintings and color palates that would later influence his artistic presentations.
After graduating from the Institut Paul Bocuse in Ecully, France, Lesage trained at some of the world’s most celebrated establishments, including The Ritz Paris, the Michelin three-star restaurant, L’Astrance, and Michelin three-star restaurant, Bras. Most recently, Lesage served as Executive Chef of Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach where he opened two of the city’s only waterfront restaurants, Waterline and A&O Kitchen + Bar. Prior to that, he served as Executive Sous Chef at St. Regis Monarch Beach, managing a culinary team of more than 60.
Today, as Executive Chef of Bacara’s renowned culinary program, Lesage oversees the resort’s six dining experiences, including a new signature restaurant opening spring 2017. When asked about his vision for Bacara, Lesage says “I approach every outlet as its own distinct concept. From a healthy breakfast at Spa Café to a casual family meal at The Bistro, each experience is unique, and each experience is exceptional.
Kosta Browne 20th Anniversary Dinner
Chef Dustin Valette, Valette Restaurant
Chef Dustin Valette began his restaurant career at the age of thirteen washing dishes at Catelli’s in his hometown of Geyserville, California. Two years later he took an apprenticeship at Chateau Souverain, a Francis Ford Coppola Estate, where he worked under Executive Chef Martin Courtman, – beginning the twenty-plus year culinary journey toward his dream of opening a restaurant dedicated to showcasing the rich bounty and beautiful ingredients of his Sonoma County roots.
Valette honed his craft in some of the most celebrated restaurants on the West Coast, including the Michelin-starred Aqua in San Francisco and Napa Valley’s Bouchon. Additional credits include Hokus at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Honolulu, a five-star, five-diamond property; the exclusive North Ranch Country Club in Westlake Village, California; and VOX Restaurant & Wine Lounge in Henderson, Nevada. Most recently, Valette spent six years as Executive Chef of Dry Creek Kitchen, a Charlie Palmer restaurant in downtown Healdsburg. At Dry Creek Kitchen, he gathered great acclaim for the strong relationships he cultivated with local farmers and purveyors in order to provide the restaurant with the area’s freshest and most unique ingredients. Valette was known for his exceptional ability to pair some of the country’s best wines with his intense, flavorful and dynamic cuisine.
The idea of Valette Restaurant began nearly two decades ago over a glass of wine shared between two brothers, Dustin and Aaron Garzini, while sitting at their father’s house overlooking the expansive Alexander Valley. At the time, Aaron was establishing himself at John Ash in Santa Rosa as a dynamic server and sommelier; and Dustin was in New York fine-tuning the culinary craft that would be his life long passion. The two dreamed of opening a restaurant which featured the breadth and depth of ingredients Sonoma County has to offer. It would serve high quality, yet honest and approachable food; offer impeccable service and house a collection of boutique, small production wines. In 2015, Valette Restaurant opened its doors to the public, showcasing 47 years of combined restaurant experience, and a deep passion and dedication to Sonoma Country and its food and wine purveyors and producers.
Originally from Sonoma County, Valette is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He currently resides with his wife, their two young daughters and two dogs in Downtown Healdsburg, a block away from the restaurant.
Edna Valley Collective Dinner
Owner/Chef Brian Collins, EMBER
A native of Arroyo Grande, Brian was drawn to food and cooking at an early age. After taking his first cooking job at a local café he was immediately drawn to the restaurant industry. Shortly thereafter, Brian enrolled in the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and the journey to become a chef had begun.
Prior to graduation, Brian obtained an intern position at Berkeley’s famous Chez Panisse Restaurant in 2000. Upon the completion of a three-month internship and graduation from culinary school, Brian was offered a full-time position that turned into a six-year stint cooking under the tutelage of Alice Waters. Brian credits much of his culinary philosophy and influence to Chez Panisse and its talented brigade of chefs.
In 2006 the time had come to return to the Central Coast with the determination to open a restaurant of his own. After cooking at Lido restaurant as both Sous Chef and Executive Chef, Brian found inspiration in the Santa Barbara Wine Country in a small town called Los Alamos. As the Chef of Full of Life Flatbread, Brian created weekly changing menus that gained the restaurant notoriety as one of the region’s top culinary destinations. After scouting potential locations, Brian discovered a property in his hometown of Arroyo Grande and opened Ember. The restaurant was an immediate success and quickly became known as one of the top restaurants on the Central Coast.
Hitching Post Retrospective Dinner with Frank Ostini
Chef Frank Ostini, Hitching Post II Restaurant
Frank Ostini grew up in and around the Casmalia Hitching Post, his family's steakhouse in central California since 1952. Specializing in traditional wood fire barbecue, Frank has expanded his menu to cook most anything over the embers at his Hitching Post II restaurant in Buellton, California. With high acclaim from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Gourmet and Sunset magazines and enthusiastic support from Chefs Wolfgang Puck and Bobby Flay, Frank has become the regional spokesman for what is popularly known as "Santa Maria Style BBQ", a feast that features meats grilled over a red oak fire.