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Friday, May 25, 2012

05/29 Beyond the Kitchen - Getting Back to our Roots.


New Organization Aims to Support Local Farmers, Help Rebuild Local Food Systems

Beyond The Kitchen, a newly formed organization in Napa Valley, challenges participants to get reconnected with the sources of their food.  Chef and Founder William (Bill) Heubel has recruited several top local farmers and food artisans to create a summer series of ten different farm tour dinners that invite you to dine out, way out, as events take place directly in the fields of where your food was just harvested.  Some of the notable farms participating in this premier season include the likes of Big Ranch Farms and Boca Farm (both in Napa), Full Table Farm in Yountville, and A Preservation Sanctuary in Calistoga featuring the exquisite Buckeye Chicken.  Local food artisans include Clover Stornetta Farms, Rancho Gordo, Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company, and Model Bakery. The venues are always changing as diners are introduced to different farmers and their philosophies.

Highlights include an exclusive farm tour by the host farmer, farmstead made Italian cream sodas, local wine from some of the best wineries, French pressed locally roasted coffee, and an open kitchen that allows participants to watch and engage in Heubel’s four-star preparations.  A total of five courses will be served family style, all prepared by this Bay Area chef.  As dusk approaches, kerosene lanterns will be lit to carry the early evening into the night.

When asked why he wanted to start such an organization, Heubel replies:

            “There’s a general disconnect between people and their food sources.  We don’t know who grows our food or where it comes from.  It’s my genuine desire to bridge that gap and introduce diners to the fantastic, hardworking people who cultivate our land and sustain us.  It is these people who are the heroes.  These are the people that deserve our recognition and through purchasing direct from them, we help sustain a healthy local food system and support our local family farmers.”

Tickets are $125 per person per dinner and can be purchased online at  A portion of the proceeds generated from Beyond The Kitchen farm dinners will go to support Connolly Ranch, a Napa based nonprofit organization that connects local area youth with nature through hands-on environmental education and nutrition programs.

A native of the California Bay Area, Heubel earned his Associate of Occupational Studies degree in Culinary Arts from the California Culinary Academy in 1993. He has over 20 years of four-star restaurant experience. 


If you’d like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with William Heubel, he can be contacted at 707-295-7454 or emailed at

Farmers and Cooks United for a Sustainable Future

The world is changing. Rapidly. More and more as a society, we are preferring to eat food that is whole and unrefined. The days of factory farming are fading as we are moving into a post-industrial era. We are realizing that our poor eating habits have been affecting our health and well being in a tragic way. This is no longer a movement. This is a revolution. Local farmer's markets are popping up at a dizzying rate. We are returning to tradition with the understanding that our grandmothers and great grandmothers had it right. Family meals, eaten together at the table, made from what was available locally at the time and in season with nutrient rich ingredients. Trendy terms like "locavore" and "sustainable" are merely words that are used these days to describe how we used to live, eat and socialize. There's something special again about being a farmer. A sense of pride, of stewardship. Young Americans are getting back into farming. It's the new cool. And I, as a Chef and an American, could not be any happier. Join me in celebrating all that is good with the new revolution…

Host, Stephen Andrews (standing on left) with tonight's guests. From left:
Juston Enos, Bill Heubel, Judd Wallenbrock and (seated) Bob Pallas

The Beneficiary....

Connolly Ranch

Located just a short drive from downtown Napa, Connolly Ranch is a rich reminder of Napa County's agricultural past. These 12 acres serve as the Connolly Ranch Education Center, providing dynamic, hands-on education programs in an outdoor setting for children and the community.
The mission of Connolly Ranch is to connect kids with nature through farm-based environmental education programs. Here they learn about farm life, the role of farm animals, the concepts of ecology and sustainability along with an appreciation for nature. They also learn about organic gardening, the sources and benefits of healthy foods and an understanding of how nature works to sustain us.

Bob Pallas
Connolly Ranch Executive Director
and Chairman of the Board

Bob received his BBA from Western Michigan University with a major in Marketing and minors in Economics and General Business. He is the former President and founder of Pallas Advertising; and Vice President/Management Supervisor of J. Walter Thompson Company. Former board President of the Hamilton Family Center; current board member and past President of Summer Search North Bay; and former Chairman of the Environmental Education Coalition of Napa County. Bob joined Connolly Ranch in 2005. In 2010 he was named Outstanding Nonprofit Employee of the Year.

A Supporting Farmer....
Full Table Farm

Mindy and Juston are the husband and wife team behind Full Table Farm. Located just down the road from Thomas Keller's "The French Laundry", they can be found selling specialty produce and mainstays at the local farmer's markets. They both started farming as a way to simply grow their own food to sustain themselves. This grew into what they have today. They both are truly wonderful people and are excited to be a part of two of our dinners this season. They take great pride in how little they do to their garden in spite of all the hard work they put in. I've heard stories of vacuuming up pests by hand. Now this is dedication! They can tell you the history of each piece of produce. So if you’re curious, just ask. They'll be providing the bounty for both the July 28th dinner at Connolly Ranch in Napa and the September 1st dinner at a location as yet to be determined.

FULL TABLE FARM is a very small husband and wife run farm just south of Yountville. While we both grew up in Northern California, we made our home in the Napa Valley at the end of 2009. With our first summer upon us, after three years in San Francisco, we were excited to be able to plant and grow our own food, a giant step up from our five small pots with herbs and a pretty sad cherry tomato plant. Our enthusiasm for planting fresh vegetables coupled with the wonderful fruit trees we inherited led to more produce than two people could eat. It was time for a back-up plan. Every table in the house was full, and we began giving fresh fruits and vegetables to everyone we met. Mindy canned for days on end and we were spending hours combing through cookbooks looking for new ways to cook or preserve our bounty. In the midst of a tidal wave of heirloom tomatoes, we asked "should we restrain ourselves next year?". Only to resolve, that it has been so much fun and so rewarding that we can only think of planting more. Sure that half acre of lawn looks pretty serene, but I can think of so many things that taste so much better. Our only alternative was to start a "farm". It is more like an over sized garden at this point, but who knows where we will end up. We hope that you enjoy the fruits of our labor as much as we enjoy being able to provide them.

A Supporting Winery
Signorello Estate

Judd Wallenbrock,
Consulting General Manager
About Judd…

Judd digs soil - both literally and figuratively. Taught in his college soil science classes that "there is no such thing as dirt - just misplaced soil." He's always subscribed to the philosophy that great wines are born of the soil - where the vines are planted is critical to the quality of the wine. A graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in Agri-Business, he's been
getting dirty for a long time.

Judd is a 31+ year veteran of the wine business. His background is unique in that he has worked in all aspects of the industry - including retail, restaurant, sales, marketing, and winery general management. He is recognized as a creative, passionate and respected leader in the industry.

After spending the last seventeen years as an executive for three highly reputable wineries and consulting several more, he was excited and prepared to start his own winery. "My passion is in the enjoyment of wine, my expertise is in building strong wine brands, and my heart is in philanthropy. Miraculously, the three paths merged, and Humanitas was born."

Judd lives in the heart of Napa with his wife and three children.

About Signorello Estate….

Ray Signorello Jr. began his journey as winemaker and vineyard owner in the Napa Valley during the mid 1980's. Ray, born in San Francisco, California, moved to Vancouver, Canada where the Signorello family continues to maintain a home. Ray divides his time between Napa, San Francisco, Vancouver and business related travel. Ray's father, Ray Sr., initiated the vineyard project during the mid 1970's by purchasing the 100-acre estate located on the Silverado Trail in the beautiful Napa Valley. Ray Sr. worked side by side with Ray Jr., establishing the winery's reputation for excellence until his passing in the fall of 1998.

No Turning Back
Signorellos' original plan was to grow quality grapes to sell to existing wineries, but the harvest of 1985 changed this plan into a new level of evolvement. The bountiful crop allowed Signorellos to custom crush the excess grapes. This opportunity demonstrated what fabulous wine their vineyards were capable of producing. The project continues to grow, as do the spectacular 42 acres planted in several different varietals. Ray's continuing effort represents the invested energies that created this reality from a dream.

In 1986 the Signorellos began the second phase of the venture, this was the building of the main winery structure. This beautiful building is used for barrel storage, wine tasting and retail sales. Along with the building of the winery, wine production was expanded to include Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. By the end of the 1980's the Signorello family was thoroughly committed to making wine as well as growing grapes.

The decade of the nineties proved to be pivotal for Signorello Estate. In 1990 the first planting of red varietals began on the property- Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah.
What brought the Signorellos to the Napa Valley was the romantic side of wine making; growing grapes, working the land, and enjoying the wine country lifestyle of camaraderie, good wine and great meals. While the Valley lifestyle is a very real part of the business, there is a serious responsibility to making a dream become a reality, both father and son realized this fact early in the endeavor.
This venture was a dream; now it is reality. We have enjoyed every moment of it, and we look forward to continuing on to make quality wines from the Napa Valley!

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