Central Coast Wine Classic Featured Chefs
Chef Christophe Emé
Los Angeles, California
The best way to express Christophe Emé’s experience is to let him lead the discussion. It may be brief, but there is an amazing array of culinary expertise contained within those brief but focused words. Why, because after working in some of the best kitchens in Paris, he’s bringing that rigorous French training to laid-back Los Angeles and creating dishes with an infectious sense of playfulness.
Born: Baugé, France; 1969.
Education: Centre de Formation d’Apprentis, Angers, France.
Experience: Michel Rostang, Laurent and Taillevent in Paris; L’Orangerie in Los Angeles.
First kitchen job: “I was an apprentice in a hotel restaurant in western France. When you’re only 16 and you don’t chop the vegetables right, the older chefs treat you terribly. Once, the manager got so upset with my carrot salad, he slapped me. Now you can’t do that, but then you could.”
Most memorable experience: Taillevent’s 50th anniversary dinner. “All the Michelin three-star chefs were there from France, Belgium, Spain. I especially remember Paul Bocuse. To be 25 and to see all those big, big stars, it was amazing.”
Ingredient obsession: Cilantro. “You can do so many things with it. I don’t need 140 spices in my kitchen. Some people think having all those ingredients makes them artists; I think they’re fashion victims.”
What he’d be if he weren’t a chef: A restaurant designer. “I love to set tables, to do the flowers...I love that.”
Won Best New Chef at: Ortolan; Los Angeles
Simply focus on the three Parisian restaurants: Michel Rostang, Laurent and Taillevent. These dining establishments are among the most stunningly brilliant restaurants in the world, and Taillevent is among the handful of the most Iconic and Hallowed. To have a chef with such a background and such vibrant creativity become a part of our Hearst Castle Dinner is a great compliment to the Wine Classic and its vision. Merci, Christophe!
8338 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: (323) 653-3300
Chef Michael Hutchings
Santa Barbara, California
Our dear long-time friend, Chef Michael Hutchings, has been an integral part of the Central Coast Wine Classic since 1992, coordinating and presenting the Vintage Dinner, as well as an integral part of the Dinner at Hearst Castle for well over ten years, always presenting the hors d’oeuvres for the Champagne reception, sometimes a main course during the Dinner, and again this year an amazing array of superlative such creations for the Champagne Reception. His creations have always been uniformly appropriate and wonderful. We know that you will find them to be so.
Michael is a chef who has paid his dues. Like many other American chefs, he took a job in a restaurant to work his way through college. An accomplished flutist, he planned a musical career. But in the kitchen of Disneyland at the fabled private Club 33, he was taught by the Black Hat Master Chef Rudolph Stoy, and his priorities changed. Michael Hutchings eventually became executive chef of Club 33, then worked under several Los Angeles chefs including James Sly at La Serre (now the owner of Sly’s in Carpinteria), and Jean Grodin, executive chef of L’Orangerie, Los Angeles.
The chef/owner of L’Ermitage, Jean Bertranou, suggested Michael Hutchings go to London to work at Le Gavroche under the Roux Brothers, so in 1978, Michael Hutchings, along with his wife and eight month old child, and modest savings, went to London to work at Le Gavroche. The Roux brothers were so impressed with his seriousness and ability that after only a few months they promoted him to sous-chef and told him that when he was ready for a restaurant in the United States they would back him financially in a partnership. Three years later, following brief stages in the kitchens of Alain Chapel, the Troisgros brothers and Gaston Lenotre, he was ready.
The result was Michael’s Waterside in Santa Barbara. During ten years of operation, Michael’s Waterside was recognized as a leader in contemporary California-French cuisine. After selling the Waterside in 1993, Chef Michael Hutchings hung his toque at the Santa Barbara Polo Club, NationsBank executive dining room, the Tower Club in Charlotte, Kaiser Grill and St. James in Palm Springs. Now, Chef Michael oversees a food consulting and catering service business in Santa Barbara, California.
Some of the highlights of Michael’s career follow:
- Journeyman in Europe with Albert Roux of Le Gavroche Two Star Michelin
- Apprenticed in France with Gastone Lenotre, Alain Chapel, Troisgros, Two & Three Star Michelin
- Michael’s Waterside listings in Mobile Guide, AAA Guide, Zagat Guide, Gault Millaut Travel Holiday Award 1985 to 1992, award discontinued
- Distinguished Restaurant of North America Award 1993
- Press credits with Time Magazine, Gourmet Magazine, Bon Appétit, Chocolatiere and others
- Guest Chef at Beard House in New York 1986 and 1990
- Guest Chef at Ahwanee Hotel in Yosemite National Park
- Special Event Coordinator for KCBX public radio at Hearst Castle Historical Monument
- Chef Coordinator for Central Coast Wine Auction 1992-1997, dinner for 800 guests
- Guest Chef at “Merci Julia” event celebrating Julia’s 80 birthday in 1992
- Appeared on “Diner at Julia’s” video magazine with Julia Child
- Charitable fund raising for Red Cross, United Way, Cancer Society, Juvenile Diabetics Cooking video on CNN, NBC, and in France, Germany and Japan
- Julia Child’s 40th Anniversary on PBS Beef Bourguignonne event, 2003
- Continuing Guest Chef Central Coast Wine Classic Dinner at Hearst Castle
Thank you, Michael, for your continuing substantive role in our special Wine Classic culinary presentations. It is always a pleasure to have your good energy and expertise as part of our culinary proceedings and to celebrate our 31st Annual Wine Classic and the 25th Annual Dinner at Hearst Castle. All of Those Incredible Repasts to Which You Substantively Contributed Could Not Have Happened Without Your Focused and Gracious Extraordinary Culinary Expertise! Thank You, Michael!
205 West Montecito Street
Santa Barbara, California
Coming from Southern California by way of Basque Country in Spain, extraordinary Basque Chef Beñat Ibarra will add additional scintillation to the remarkable Rare Wines and Fine Cuisine that will be presented at the Santa Barbara Club on Friday evening August 12!
Terranea Resort recently appointed Chef Ibarra as Executive Chef of the resort’s Food and Beverage operations, a role that includes the supervision of the eight dining venues, in-room dining department, and banquets division.
Ibarra brings more than 30 years of culinary and hospitality experience to Terranea Resort. After earning his Culinary Associate Degree at College Technique La Citadelle in France, he began working at Michelin rated Hôtel des Pyrénées with his mentor, Chef Arrambide. While next working with the Four Seasons Hotel group, he opened and operated locations in Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, Houston, Tokyo, and Singapore.
Ibarra was then named executive chef of the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore before moving to the U.S. to join Arnaud's in New Orleans as executive chef. He was later appointed to the world-renowned Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong, before relocating again to the U.S. to serve as executive chef of The Mirage Hotel & Casino and, most recently, the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, where he opened and oversaw 16 on-site restaurants, in-room dining, and banquets for the state of the art property.
“We are delighted to have Chef Bernard Ibarra join our extraordinary culinary team," says Terri A. Haack, executive vice president and managing director. "Chef Ibarra's extensive culinary experience and expertise is sure to enhance the food and beverage offerings that have made Terranea a dining destination."
"I am honored to join the culinary team at Terranea," says Ibarra. "The resort's food and beverage programs are industry renowned and I look forward to the opportunity to work with the team to further evolve and enhance the guest dining experience."
Born and raised in the French side of the Basque Country, Ibarra became interested in pursuing a career as a chef early on. His parent’s ability to create simple, yet delicious, meals using locally harvested products, served as an inspiration. Growing up in a tourist destination, Ibarra experienced how Basque’s seaside restaurants, fisheries, and marketplace created an environment and lifestyle filled with food and centered in hospitality.
Ibarra’s cooking philosophy is that, “one must respect the ingredients and the cultures, feel the passion, and live your life like you are cooking a great dish.” His global travels and exposure to various cuisines fuels his desire to continue to grow and learn. He finds harmony and comfort in cooking and enjoys sharing his innovation and passion with guests and fellow associates.
We will find Harmony and Comfort with not only his incredible culinary background but also with the Culinary Manifestations that emerge from his vibrant creativity and his enthusiasm at preparing and presenting the Wine Classic’s First Rare Wine Dinner! Welcome Chef Beñat “Bernard” Ibarra! It is a great pleasure and an honor to have you join us.
Chef Maegen Loring
Maegen Loring Catering
San Luis Obispo, California
Niner Wine Estates
Paso Robles, California
Chef Maegen Loring has become a San Luis Obispo County icon in the culinary world, just as Monte Mills is one in the musical world, as her fine dining establishments and her catering business have always received rave reviews throughout her career. With a keen palate, extensive knowledge of food, accomplished technical skills and a passion for food Maegen is one of those rare people who are what they do.
Her life experiences have always, in one way or another, been about food. Every creation from her kitchen is unique, flavorful and exactly what it should be. Recently as the Executive Catering Chef at the impeccably located Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa in Shell Beach, for the Central Coast Wine Classic, she took Dolphin Bay’s Catering themes beyond the resort to culinarily enhance the Wine Classic’s Dinner-Dance and at the behest of the Wine Classic, will do so again this year at the Greengate Ranch & Vineyard Monte Mills & the Lucky Horseshoe Band Dinner-Dance after the Wine Classic Barrel Tasting & Auction.
Maegen’s cooking career began at an early age. In first grade her trusting mother, an artist, would give instructions for the meal that had been planned for the evening dinner. With her mother watching she would go to it. An avid reader at a young age, cook books were soon a part of her bedroom library. With freedom to experiment and the appropriate reading material, her skills and sensibilities improved. With experience, knowledge and her mother’s trust, she was soon developing her own menus for the family meals.
For her high school years, Maegen moved to Canada to live with her father, a math professor. There her cooking skills and knowledge continued to grow under new influences. In her mother’s house cooking was guided by creativityófood in the pantry and spontaneity. In her father’s house the cooking was planned and often prepared by the book. Complex recipes were consulted; shopping lists were prepared, and procedures were followed as prescribed. With her father, Maegen learned the importance of cooking technique and procedures. She tackled each new recipe with as much vigor and joy for the disciplined approach as she did for the creative approach at her mother’s house.
After finishing high school Maegen was ready for the world of restaurants. Working for chefs she respected, she was able to further improve her technical skills and knowledge in ways that only come from hands on experience while working with a kitchen full of talented and knowledgeable professionals.
Not content to spend all of her time in the kitchen, Maegen’s adventurous nature has often taken her out of the kitchen and around the world. Whether traveling with her grandparents in Indonesia or her husband in Europe, her experience of the country is centered on her experience of the food. These experiences come back with her to the kitchen and are integrated in restaurant and catering menus.
Maegen has discovered the one constant from culture to culture which has become her mantraó“what grows together, goes together.” This is her personal mantra, and it’s reflected in her kitchen and at the table. She was early to embrace the farmers and their produce at local outdoor markets and to make their foods of the seasons her own. This has become a norm on the Central Coast but Maegen was among the first to actively promote the concept among her peers and with her clientele. She has further developed the concept with wine and food pairings, making her a favorite among wine makers and oenophiles alike.
Her consistently high culinary standards are reflected in the enterprises she has undertaken: Maegen Loring Catering has long been the standard for successful catered events in San Luis Obispo County. And her catering continues to be remarkable, as those of you who had the thorough edification offered during the Friday evening Dinner-Dances in 2012 and 2013. That is certainly the anticipatory outlook this year as well, when as the Executive Chef of the extraordinary Paso Robles winery, Niner Wine Estates, she will represent the winery at the Monte Mills & the Lucky Horseshoe Band Dinner-Dance after the Barrel Auction. You will discover Delight in the Venue, the Music, the Companionship and the Wine, thoroughly, appropriately and expertly presented in the Culinary Artistry and Aura of Chef Maegen Loring!
Niner Wine Estates
2400 CA-46, Paso Robles, CA 93446
Phone: (805) 239-2233
Chef Rick Manson
Chef Rick’s Ultimately Fine Foods
Santa Maria, California
The Up-Tempo American cooking prepared by one of California Central Coast’s premier chefs, Rick Manson, a long-time friend of the Wine Classic and the community of Avila Beach (At Archie McLaren’s behest, Rick was the Chef for the array of world-class percussionists who were a part of the transcendent Avila Drum Day Healing Percussion Festival in the 1990s!) is a blend of Georgia low country, southern Louisiana, Southwest, and Southern California influences, seasoned with a hint of rhythm and blues, a splash of color, and a touch of irreverence. We welcome Chef Rick again, as he has presented his wondrously flavorful culinary creations for our Auction Luncheon several times, including his remarkable luncheon in 2013.
Chef Rick began earning critical acclaim during his 10 year tenure as executive chef of the King & Prince Hotel on historic St. Simons Island, Georgia. Chef Rick’s Ultimately Fine Foods in Santa Maria, his highly popular restaurant that he closed this past year, consistently earned the “Best Restaurant in Santa Maria” award from the Santa Maria Sun. Central Coast Magazine says “ … thank goodness for something different and intriguing!” Jim Clendenen, of Au Bon Climat Winery in Santa Maria, has said of Rick: “Some people are born into the hospitality industry.”
Chef Rick’s demeanor, his receptiveness and his smile define that. He is an excellent chef, the consummate host and he always delivers a lagniappe (Cajun for something extra special), which transforms your experience with him into something memorable.’’ Rick was named the 2007 Central Coast Wine Classic’s Culinary Honoree by founder Archie McLaren. Selected for his “indefatigable support and enthusiasm in furthering culinary excellence on the Central Coast,” Archie, after whom Chef Rick has named a Creole BBQ Shrimp course, “Archie McLaren’s New Orleans-Style Barbequed Shrimp with Warm Soppin’ Bread,” has said of Rick, “The guy is a Soulful Prince!”
Just to give you an idea of some of Rick’s “favorite things” …
Most engaging and memorable meal: “On Cathy’s and my honeymoon in Paris, I needed a recommendation as to where to take my new wife for her birthday dinner. Our hotel concierge didn’t hesitate a second in suggesting the Michelin 3-star restaurant Tour d’Argent. With a table overlooking Cathedral Notre Dame and the River Seine, from the martinis, “free” hors d’oeuvres, Kir Royales, pressed duck, and white peach flambé, to Cathy throwing rolls at our dining neighbor (It was a wonderful accident! Bell sleeves, you know!), being our honeymoon and her birthday, it was by far the most memorable meal, ever!”
Other chefs he admires: “My friends Marie Will and Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat Winery are two of the greatest cooks (chefs) I’ve ever known, although they don’t work professionally. Locally (the greater Central Coast) I’ve always admired Laurent Grangien of Bistro Laurent in Paso Robles and I have great respect for my peers who I’ve grown up with that are still “swingin’ their whisks,” including Laurent, Ian McPhee, James Sly, and a few of those young guys, Alphonso Curti of Trattoria Uliveto, Clark Staub of Full of Life Foods, and Anthony Endy of Rooney’s Irish Pub. Nationally, I have always loved the food of Dean Fearing, Emeril Lagasse, and Wolfgang Puck.”
Famous people for whom Rick has prepared meals: Jimmy Carter, Tom Petty, Robin Ventura, Herman Munster, Martha Stewart, Boz Scaggs, Jesse Jackson, Jonathan Winters, Jackson Browne, Robert Mondavi, David Crosby, Horace Grant, Metallica and Jimmy Messina. And Music … This engaging fellow is INTO an array of Music! Delta Blues, Zydeco (Queen Ida has dined at his restaurant!), Rock & Roll, Rhythm & Blues, etc. etc. etc. Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm …
We know you will be energized and edified by the richly rhythmic quality of Rick’s unique Central California cuisine during his array of Luncheon courses at the Thirty-First Annual Central Coast Wine Classic Rare & Fine Wine & Lifestyle Auction, especially in the rhythmic symbiotic culinary union with his Dear Friend and Ours Chef Frank Ostini.
Chef Rick's Ultimately Fine Foods
Restaurant & Catering
4869 S Bradley Rd, Santa Maria, CA 93455
Phone: (805) 680-7351
Executive Chef Jacob Moss
Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa
Shell Beach, California
Lido restaurant at Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa is rapidly gaining a “destination” reputation, not only for its impeccable location and ambiance, but for its fine dining presentation, orchestrated by Chef Jacob Moss and his capable staff. Jacob creates and presents the Winery Dinner for the central Coast Wine Classic on the Friday evening of the event weekend, this year as the last, two, coordinating the menu with the fine wines of Justin Vineyard & Winery west of Paso Robles.
Jacob began his culinary career in the fifth grade when his mom informed him that he would be responsible for one meal a week. Jacob began preparing meals that were both fresh and delicious.
While attending Butte College in Chico, California, Jacob took a part time job in the kitchen of the Canyon Oaks Country Club and the rest, as they say, is history. Discovering a true passion for preparing food, Jacob decided to pursue a formal culinary education and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, California in 2006. As part of that educational experience, Jacob completed a three month externship at Ristorante Rossini located in Florence, Italy. When Jacob returned to America, he was employed by Noe Restaurant located in the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
Working alongside Executive Chef Glenn Ishi, Jacob learned the nuances of preparing Neo Bistro cuisine featuring fresh and high quality ingredients.
With an array of new culinary skills, Jacob returned to the Rawbar in Chico and served as their Sous Chef. Working with and learning from Executive Chef, Jorge Vasquez and Master Sushi Chef, Masaki Tanaka, this culinary trio created a menu that has earned the Rawbar the “Best of Chico Award” for the last ten years.
Jacob moved back to the Central Coast of California in 2010 and took on the job as Sous Chef at Café Roma in San Luis Obispo. After only six months, he became the Head Chef and with the Rizzo family, created one of the finest menus of authentic Italian cuisine in the area. Jacob accepted the position as Sous Chef at Lido Restaurant in the Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa in early 2012 and has grown into the role of Executive Chef. He feels honored to be a part of the Lido team and he shares the philosophy of creating an innovative menu with locally cultivated, organic food.
And the Central Coast Wine Classic is honored to have such a special culinary artist create the cuisine for our Annual Justin Winemaker Dinner in Lido at Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa!
Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa
2727 Shell Beach Rd, Pismo Beach, CA 93449
Phone: (805) 773-8900
Chef Frank Ostini
Hitching Post II
Attending and supporting the Central Coast Wine Classic virtually from its beginning, no individual has been more continuously supportive of the Central Coast Wine Classic than Frank Ostini. His donations to the Live Auction alone have over the years raised over one quarter of a million dollars for the event. Frank is extraordinarily gracious, generous and gregarious when it comes to assisting others, and he does so at a very high level, as The Hitching Post and Hartley-Ostini Wines are held in very high esteem by wine critics, collectors and gourmets alike. Decades prior to the extraordinarily successful film “Sideways,” Frank Ostini was famous among those of us who are his friends for an amazing array of fine food and wine activities.
Frank Ostini grew up in and around the Casmalia Hitching Post, his family’s steakhouse on the Central Coast of 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.
Many years ago, Frank expanded his interest in fine wine by being the President of the now historic Central Coast Wine Society. Since 1984 Frank, with partner Gray Hartley, has also made Hitching Post Wines, specializing in Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir. Frank has recently received widespread international attention since his Hitching Post II and Hitching Post Pinot Noirs were featured in the aforementioned Academy Award-winning film Sideways. The winery has 800 barrels and produces about 15,000 cases a year. “When we started to make wine, I had one purpose,” says Frank. “To get good wine on my family restaurant’s table- wine that I produced. Doing the food and wine together is all I ever wanted, and it’s still all I really want to do”
Frank Ostini lives near the restaurant in Buellton with wife, Jami and his two children, Gray and Gabriella. When not in the restaurant or working in the winery, Frank is out promoting Santa Maria Style BBQ and Santa Barbara County Wines at charity events across the country. Speaking of Charity Events, Frank ALWAYS donates his time, his food, his wine and his energy to the Central Coast Wine Classic, and this year is obviously no exception, as his combination offering with his dear friend Jim Clendenen, as always, will be one of the most popular offerings in the Auction.
It is with extreme gratitude that we thank Frank for his many, many contributions to the Central Coast Wine Classic, including presenting the Auction Luncheon on a number of occasions, as well as of course presenting superb meat courses at several Hearst Castle Dinners, including this 31st year. We know that you will be comprehensively edified by the gracious and generous and talented Frank Ostini’s expertise and dynamically and graciously interactive good energy!
What a Superlative Team Duet of Chefs for the Rare & Fine Wine & Lifestyle Auction! As fine as it gets! Ultimately Fine for certain!!!
406 East Highway 246, Buellton, California
Chef Humberto Perez
Santa Barbara Club
Santa Barbara, California
The following are comments written Linda & Sophia Spann concerning the gracious and talented Humberto Perez.
It’s Friday night. Late. The last of the plates from dinner service were brought back long ago, and the Santa Barbara Club sits quiet. The overhead fluorescents illuminate the kitchen. A spotlight. “Hey pretty baby with the high heels on / You give me fever / Like I’ve never ever known!” Michael Jackson’s voice blares, and the kitchen walls echo, “The way you make me feel!” At the center of it all Chef Humberto moonwalks across the linoleum. And in that moment, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but right there.
Executive Santa Barbara Club Chef Humberto Perez has incredible talent. Watching him is humbling. He manages the Santa Barbara Club kitchen staff effortlessly; he is vibrant, gracious and hard working. The food he prepares reflects his culinary creativity and his drive for perfection.
“When I was young, I lived in Mexico,” Chef tells me, “in a very small house with my five brothers and two sisters. My mother was a schoolteacher, very strict” Chef Humberto began his career at the Santa Barbara Club as a gardener, and went on to apprentice under Chef Norbert. He had never formally learned to cook, but paved the way for himself through self-instruction. “I remember when I turned 11, I would wait up for my father to come home. He worked two jobs, and one of them was a truck driver on the graveyard shift.” Chef let out a smile and laughed. “He would get home at four in the morning, and I would wake up and cook meals for him. The more I would cook, the more he would talk, and the longer we would spend together. It was our secret.”
Chef Humberto Perez is a chef without an ego. He is patient and values quality when it comes to food preparation and presentation. When you speak to him you feel that overwhelming sense of passion he exudes for the food he cooks.
“The one spice I could never live without is chilies!” How fitting for a great man that has such a spark in him.
Well the aforementioned is just the tip of the culinary slope with chef Umberto. Linda and Sophia saw the spark. Once a month, a group of us Wine Guys live the spark. We choose a wine theme for a luncheon at the Club, such as Red Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhône, Australian Shiraz, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, etc., etc, etc … Chef Humberto creates the cuisine, and he matches the courses with the wines perfectly. It is always a thoroughly edifying symbiosis.
And that is what you will find at the rare Wine Dinner at the Santa Barbara Club the evening of Friday August 12, when he teams with another great chef from Europe and now the United States, Chef Bernat “Bernard” Ibarra, when they present a multi-course menu to compliment some of the rarest wines imaginable from throughout the world. Humberto will once again shine!
Santa Barbara Club
1105 Chapala St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Phone: (805) 965-6547
Chef Laurent Quenioux
Vertical Wine Bistro
We have been graced this year by another great French Chef, who is experiencing his initial culinary presentation at our Hearst Castle Dinner. Growing up in Sologne, France, Bistro LQ Owner & Executive Chef Laurent Quenioux developed his love of game and wild strawberries with his parents: he would hunt duck, partridge, rabbit and hare with his father, and practice cooking his mother’s recipes at home in the kitchen. When he completed his education, he entered into an apprenticeship in the South of France where, according to Laurent, “everything is about fat duck, goose liver and foie gras.”
After working and honing his skills in some of the finest kitchens in France, Laurent moved to the United States with a team from L’Oasis at La Napoule to open The Regency Club in Los Angeles. In 1985, he introduced the celebrated and award-winning 7th Street Bistro in downtown Los Angeles, serving groundbreaking French Nouvelle California cuisine which became a favorite spot for the mayor and Hollywood celebrities. Subway construction led to the closing of the 7th Street Bistro after a decade, and Laurent spent the late 1990s as the Executive Chef for Dodgers Stadium.
In the early 2000s, he returned to his restaurant roots with the debut of the cozy Bistro K in Pasadena, earning accolades for his originality and precision with a revolutionary menu designed to open the senses and minds of his guests to new possibilities, tastes and textures. With the opening of Bistro LQ in July 2009, Laurent brought his edgy style and ingenuity to a larger & more central location in Los Angeles near West Hollywood.
Feeling a need to take new risks and expand his vision, Laurent closed Bistro LQ in Spring of 2011 for a culinary and creative sabbatical. Presently Laurent is manning the stoves at Vertical Wine Bistro in Pasadena, CA. He also also working on a biographic book project while cooking at his popular experimental “Fooding” events around Los Angeles.
Chef Quenioux may be aware that Vintner Bob Lindquist creates a Dodger Chardonnay (with a bit of Roussanne) and a Syrah (with some Grenache & Tempranillo). Perhaps the Dinner at Hearst Castle will marry one of them in a symbiotic culinary and wine combination with Laurent’s fine cuisine and Bob’s fine wine.
Welcome to the Central Coast, Laurent! It is a pleasure to enjoy your wonderful companionship and your culinary expertise! We hope that you will find the experience as unforgettable as we find your cuisine!
Vertical Wine Bistro
70 N Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103
Phone: (626) 795-3999
James Siao is the executive chef of Finch & Fork restaurant at Kimpton’s Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara, California. He is responsible for the menus at Fork & Finch, as well as the banquet and in-room menus for the Canary Hotel and oversees the entire kitchen staff.
In 2012, Siao became the executive chef of Coast restaurant in Santa Barbara, and Coast subsequently evolved to became Finch & Fork in 2013. As the executive chef, Siao has created a modern American bar and grill, creating a menu that features shareable plates such as the flatbreads, salt & pepper chicken wings and house deviled eggs, as well as larger soul satisfying plates such as his popular buttermilk fried chicken, Skuna Bay salmon, and seared sea scallops. Siao’s food is meant to be enjoyed with artisanal wines, craft cocktails, and great beers.
Siao grew up in Ohio, being surrounded by great food in his father’s Chinese restaurant. He learned a great deal about how food can bring people together, but also about the restaurant business. He started working his way up-- working at the restaurant as a teenager, bussing tables and washing dishes. These roles helped him understand just how hard the business is. From there, he worked his way up, serving, prepping and even cooking on the line.
From there, Siao decided he wanted to become an executive chef. He attended culinary school in Pittsburgh while working on the side at a local country club. An internship during school took him to Arizona where he worked at the Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch. After completing his internship, he stayed on and continued working at the resort to further his understanding and experience.
Siao decided it was time to go back to Ohio, and worked in a number of smaller local family restaurants before landing his first sous chef position in 2001. He was promoted to executive chef of that same family restaurant in 2002, and managed the kitchen for more than four years.
In 2006, Siao returned to Arizona to work with the Marriot Renaissance in Scottsdale as the executive sous chef. He worked a second job at Taggia Restaurant at the local Kimpton Firesky Resort, and worked both jobs until he had the opportunity to become the sous chef at Taggia.
Siao became the chef de cuisine at Taggia in 2008, and worked there for a total of just over six years. In 2009, he had the opportunity to help a friend open a restaurant in Italy. He jumped at the opportunity, and spent the next three months living and working in Italy. The time he spent in Italy helped him learn even more about how food and culture intertwine, and once again, how food brings people together. He had a greater appreciation for interacting with the guest, and learned how to make each dining experience even better than the last.
He returned to Taggia in 2010 and focused on all of the things he had learned—bringing an even better guest experience to his clientele, and drawing from the influences and lessons he had learned in Italy. He headed to Santa Barbara shortly after in 2012.
In his free time, James likes to participate in local charitable events, such as Share Our Strength’s Chef Cycle and Taste of the Nation. He’s also enjoys a good road trip, and is often heading up or down the coast to Los Angeles or San Francisco to check out the food scene.
Chef James Sly
We have stated on many occasions that no one is more important to the Wine Classic’s culinary manifestation than James Sly, the year-after-year Chef-Coordinator for the Dinner at Hearst Castle. Over the years that James has been involved with the presentation of the Dinner, he has accommodated every conceivable style of fine cuisine, except thankfully perhaps, that of the likes of Ferran Adria. Regardless of the complexity, he has been unfailingly successful at making every one of the Dinners special. This year, again as a featured chef, he will be presenting as well as coordinating, and we know that you will be quite edified by the quality of his cuisine.
James Sly and his wife, Ann, are now operating “Sly’s,” their eponymous new restaurant in the sleepy coastal town of Carpinteria, California. In keeping with the focus of James’ cuisine, “Sly’s” is a fine dining restaurant, featuring seafood, prime steaks and outstanding cocktails in a traditional approach. There’s an interesting twist in the wine selections, as the 2,000-bottle cellar features an equally balanced list of wines from California ñ and from France. The location is three blocks from the “World’s Safest Beach”, on Linden Avenue, in a 90-year old brick building. Sly’s would be a welcome addition to any culinary scene; the food, the service and the ambiance are absolutely exceptional.
Long a Santa Barbara Chef, James is proud to be a “dinosaur” of traditional, even old-fashioned cooking. James created Lucky’s in Montecito, and built it into the premiere steak house in the area during its first eight years. He departed from Lucky’s in June of 2007, hatched plans for Sly’s and is now headlong into his wonderful new fine dining restaurant with its eclectic menu.
James’ training is strictly classical, his attitude 100% California. After an apprenticeship in California, James began his formal training in Europe, at the Hôtel Ritz in Paris, the Hôtel de Paris in Monte Carlo, and continued working with Michel Guèrard at Règine’s in both Paris and New York.
James also spent several years working in private homes, cooking for among others, Her Imperial Highness, Princess Shams Pahlavi, the sister of the Shah of Iran in both Beverly Hills and in Cuernavaca, Mexico. James refined his craft at restaurants on Nantucket, in Washington, DC, and in Palm Springs before coming to Santa Barbara, where he spent four years as Chef for the El Encanto Hotel before pursuing catering, restaurant consulting, and serving as a private chef in Montecito.
More now than ever, the value of simplicity in cooking plays an important part in James Sly’s style. As a dinosaur, James’ approach to food features a strong classical base, frankness, and above all integrity. The cuisine is marked by both the use of top-quality ingredients - aged USDA prime steaks, fresh abalone, live Maine lobster and a slew of Farmer’s Market vegetables top the list - and more importantly, an intense respect for those ingredients. Sauces reflect James’ classic training, and bring a dimension to food that more simple approaches simply can’t compete with.
An entertaining teacher, James comfortably shares his wealth of knowledge and experience with students and his employees, and concentrates on the basics that make such a big difference in quality food and a quality restaurant experience. James has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Linguistics from California State University at Fullerton, is now reluctantly 60 years old, and is delighted to live, and work, in the sleepy beach town of Carpinteria, California. We are so very fortunate that James Sly is a part of the Wine Classic family and that he is so exceedingly well organized and so dedicated to quality in both creation and execution. The Dinner at Hearst Castle is a visible manifestation of his expertise. As always, all of us who are associated with the Central Coast Wine Classic and its vision and goals are deeply grateful to you, James. Happy 26th Annual Dinner at Hearst Castle to you, a goal not even possible without your focus, expertise and guidance!
686 Linden Avenue