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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

3/29 - A TRIBUTE TO JAPAN: Featuring Hiro Sone & Lissa Doumani of Restaurant Terra in St. Helena and Ame in San Francisco

Hiro Sone & Lissa Doumani

A Tribute to Japan

Two years ago a group of chefs from the US were on an adventure to Sendai Japan led by Sho and Jiro Kamio.  Together they explored the culinary background of Sendai and parts of Miyagi prefecture.  This was an eye opening experience for these chefs, most having never been to Japan and none to the area of Sendai. They visited a small Sendai Miso producer, a Japanese beef farm; they experienced the quality of Miyagi Wakame (seaweed), uni and scallops in Matsushima.  They tasted sake at Ichinokura and got to understand the process of making sake. They learned of the Sendai Oyster farms which are the parents of almost all the oysters raised on the west coast of the US.  Many of these farms are now gone and the families have lost everything. 

Having met the families and employees behind the products they got to know has motivated these chefs to create a dinner inspired by the products they found on the trip to honor the loss the area has experienced and to hopefully help these farmers reestablish their livelihood.  Details on the dinner are below for those interested in attending.

Our guests tonight, are not only active participants in this dinner, one of them, Hiro Sone, is a native to the region of Meyagi.  Together they will bring us a taste of Japan, its food, lifestyle and culture, from 2 very different perspectives. Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani are world famous restaurateurs with 2 Michelin-starred restaurants, and have an amazing and inspirational story to tell of how their paths met and cultures melded.  Hiro will bring us an insider’s view of this beautiful and bountiful region and how he has brought a taste of the Japanese palate to the US. Come on this journey with us, honoring one of the world’s oldest and most diverse cultures; and in tribute to those who have lost their lives family, friends, homes and livelihood.

About our guests:

Hiro Sone is the chef-owner of Terra restaurant in St. Helena, CA, and Ame in San Francisco, CA. Hiro has come a long way from his beginnings on a premium rice farm in Miyagi, Japan. The cuisine of the three-time nominee and 2003 winner of the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef of California subtly pay homage to his Japanese heritage. But years of disciplined training, cooking experience, and global travel have had equal influence over refined and eclectic cooking style. Hiro and his wife Lissa opened Terra in 1988 to overwhelming acclaim and it remains one of the Napa Valley's top restaurants. Their newest restaurant, Ame, brings the signature taste of their wine country restaurant to appreciative San Francisco diners. Hiro received a James Beard award for "Best California Chef" in 2003, and in 2008 Terra received the "Best Serve Award" from the James Beard Foundation. Terra has received a Michelin star every year since 2007, and Ame has received a Michelin star every year since 2008. Hiro is the co-author of Terra: Cooking from the Heart of the Napa Valley, a cookbook that was nominated for a James Beard "Best American Cookbook" award in 2001.

Lissa Doumani’s luscious desserts may have earned her the nickname “Pastry Princess,” but the fortysomething pastry chef is anything but a prima donna. As the restaurants front-woman, accounting maven, and dining room and pastry manager she hardly has time to perch on fluffed pillows and eat bonbons while her prince, husband/Terra chef Hiro Sone works the pots and pans.

Co-owner Lissa was born into the world of food and wine. As the daughter of Carl Doumani, owner of Stags’ Leap Winery and one-time restaurateur, she spent the first half of her childhood in Los Angeles where her father owned Mexican restaurants. The second half of her youth was spent surrounded by the vineyards and culinary culture of Napa Valley. In both locales she and her family cooked together with regularity. Lissa enjoyed the closeness, bantering, and bickering that went on in the kitchen. By the time she was 12 she knew a restaurant was in her future.

Lissa’s gregarious and confident nature came in handy long before she began welcoming customers at Terra. Upon graduating from high school she started college and briefly worked her way up from dishwasher to pantry in a Yountville restaurant owned by original French Laundry owner Sally Schmitt. But 1982 was the fateful year that she talked her way into a pastry apprenticeship at Wolfgang Puck’s renowned restaurant Spago Hollywood—despite the fact that she had little formal training. Under the tutelage of famed chef and baker Nancy Silverton, she came into her own and secured a position as pastry chef. 

Her job at Spago provided Lissa with more than newfound skills. It was in Wolfgang Puck’s kitchen that she met her future husband and business partner, Japanese chef Hiro Sone, who was training to open Spago Tokyo.

In 1983 the adventurous chef headed to Sydney, Australia, where she designed pastry programs for two hotels over six months, then headed to Tokyo to teach pastry techniques to the Japanese chefs at Spago Tokyo. After a two-month stay and a rekindling of her budding romance with Hiro she and the Japanese chef returned to Los Angeles to embark on life together. Hiro oversaw the kitchen at Spago Hollywood, while Lissa wowed diners and received rave reviews as pastry chef at Roy Yamaguchi’s restaurant 385 North.

Soon afterward, Lissa’s entrepreneurial spirit and a stunning available restaurant space in Napa Valley beckoned her to return to Northern California. In 1988 she and Hiro opened Terra, a nationally acclaimed restaurant celebrating the couple’s culinary expertise, travel experiences, and preference for intimate, world-class dining. Since then she has greeted guests, made sure the bills are paid, orchestrated the d├ęcor and staff, and wowed guests nightly with gorgeous and decadent yet refined desserts such as a dense Chocolate Brownie with Bourbon Ice Cream, Orange Risotto in a Brandy Snap with Passion Fruit Sauce, and seasonal tarts, all of which she oversees.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Lissa co-authored with Hiro Terra: Cooking from the Heart of Napa Valley (Ten Speed Press) in 2000 while overseeing the dining room and pastry program. Today her precision management and attention to detail is a primary reason that after 22 years in business Terra is still one of the most cherished dining experiences in Napa Valley.  ###

 A very special dinner at Prospect for

Chef’s United for Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami Farm Aid

Dinner April 3, 2011
Starting at 6:00 with Sparkling and passed appetizers
Sit down at 7:00
Cost $300 per person, 100% of proceeds go to Charity
To Purchase Ticket go to:

The north coast of Japan and specifically the Miyagi Prefecture was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.  The dinner that will take place at Prospect is a very personal reaction to this catastrophe.

Featured chefs:
Bruce Hill, Bix, Picco, Zero Zero
Ravi Kapur, Prospect
Paul Canales, Former Executive Chef of Oliveto
Staffan Terje, Perbacco and Barbacco
Sho Kamio, Yoshi’s
Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani, Ame and Terra, honorary chef’s whose family live in Miyagi Prefecture

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