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Monday, June 25, 2012

06/26 Carmel Valley Magnificence - Bernardus Style

 Bernardus Lodge - Gentrified Country Elegance and Luxury, with Amazing Locally-Inspired Wine, Food and a Rejuvenating Spa

With the resources to locate anywhere in the world, Ben Pon chose Carmel Valley to establish Bernardus Winery and Vineyards in 1989. His dream - to create a wine worthy of his legacy. Inspired by his success, he expanded his vision to include a luxury resort - Bernardus Lodge - complete with award-winning cuisine from Chef Cal Stamenov, a Grand Award wine list from Wine Spectator, and a signature spa. For a relaxing getaway, an off-site retreat, or romantic wedding, discover why Bernardus has become the luxurious heart of Carmel Valley.

Nestled among the oaks and vineyards of scenic Carmel Valley, savor the gracious intimacy of a resort with epicurean flair. Feather beds, cozy fireplaces and over sized bathtubs for two. Vintage wine and cheese welcome. A "wine grotto" mini bar. The spa's meditation garden, warming room and soaking pool. And dining at Marinus, voted one of the Zagat's top restaurants in the Bay Area.

About the Owner
Bernardus Marinus Pon
Ben Pon's dream is to make a Carmel Valley red wine equal to the finest from Bordeaux. It is a dream based on the foundation of tradition. Born and raised in Amersfoort Holland, Ben inherited a European appreciation of wine. His company owns the oldest "wÿnkoper" distribution house in Holland, for which he annually visits the finest chateaux in Bordeaux. Inspired, he collects wines for his cellars, and adds fuel to the fire of his own passion for the best, with which he returns to the Carmel Valley.
The crest of the Bernardus wine label is colored orange, the royal Dutch color and the noble lions guarding the shield represent Ben's heritage. His is a family legacy to uphold. Ben Pon, Sr. imported the first Volkswagen "Beetle" to America and created the design for the revolutionary VW bus. Ben imagines carrying on this tradition contributing to the greatness of America from a European perspective; and leaving something of importance behind in the New World.
Ben and his wife, Ingrid, chose the Carmel Valley. They believe in its potential to be the best viticultural appellation in America for traditional Bordeaux-style red wines. Ben's passion for Carmel Valley has now extended beyond wine. With the same pioneer spirit that created Bernardus Winery and Vineyards, Ben and Ingrid embarked upon the Bernardus Lodge. With 57 sumptuous suites, Marinus restaurant featuring award-winning chef Cal Stamenov, culinary and viticultural seminars, and a full-service spa and salon, Bernardus Lodge is a natural extension of the distinctive Bernardus legacy of perfection.
Carmel Valley is one of the most beautiful places in the world," says Ben, a man who divides his time between Amersfoort, Holland, Somerset, England, and the Carmel Valley, and travels year-round as a citizen of the world.
Ben is a bon vivant in the Old World tradition with an enthusiastic perspective of life. A professional sportsman, Ben was a race car driver for Porsche for many years, racing six times in Le Mans. He averaged 125 miles per hour in his best race, and says the thrill for him was in driving at the limit. Ben was also an athlete for Holland in skeet shooting during the 1972 Olympics. In skeet shooting the goal is to aim where the clay pigeon is going to be. Perhaps that is why Ben doesn't say that 2% of Americans drink wine. He says, "98% of the people are not drinking wine yet." Ben is shooting at where it's going to be.
Ben had a passion for racing cars and he won. He enjoyed skeet shooting and shot in the Olympics. Ben envisions making Carmel Valley red wine equal to the finest Bordeaux. Bernardus…taste a dream.

Michael J. Oprish
Managing Director

Managing Director, Michael Oprish directs and oversees all daily operations of Bernardus Lodge and Bernardus Vineyards & Winery to ensure the enduring Bernardus’ signature service, commitment to excellence and products. He brings more than 25 years of experience to the helm, having been the opening general manager of Timber’s Resort newest addition to their collection, The Sebastian-Vail. Oprish’s extensive resume also includes senior roles such as vice president and general manager of Bernardus Lodge, general manager of The Quail Lodge in Carmel, as well as being room manager of The Peaks Resort and Spa in Telluride, Colorado, and Carefree Resorts in Carefree, Arizona.

A resident of Carmel Valley, Oprish is an active member of the community.  He has past served as President of the Monterey County Hospitality Association, Chair of the Monterey County Visitor's and Convention Center and Vice President of Carmel Valley Chamber of Commerce. He currently sits on the Executive Committee for Monterey County Visitor's and Convention Bureau.

Cal Stamenov
Chef and Culinary Director

Cal Stamenov is chef and culinary director—the creative visionary—for the dining venues of Bernardus Lodge, the 57- guestroom resort located in Carmel Valley, CA. In his position, Stamenov is responsible for the award-winning restaurant, Marinus, and the resort’s more casual bistro, Wickets. He also oversees the culinary operations for Will’s Fargo Dining House & Saloon in Carmel Valley Village.

Stamenov’s cuisine is rooted in the subtle yet elegant uses of local organic produce and seafood, and artisan farmed meats. His menus bring out the pure flavors of each fresh ingredient and seamlessly incorporate the herbs, vegetables and myriad varieties of indigenous tomatoes he grows in his own two-acre garden at Bernardus Lodge.

To share his wealth of epicurean experiences, which span more than 20 years in some of the world’s most renowned restaurants, Stamenov inspired a series of seasonal culinary arts programs at Bernardus. These seminars, which cater to food and wine connoisseurs (namely Bernardus guests), bring to light the seasonal specialties of the region while simultaneously showcasing a selection of wines from the nearby Bernardus Winery and Vineyard.

Ever since he can remember, Cal Stamenov has been at home in the kitchen. Cooking is the passion and dream that shaped his life since childhood. A country man at heart, he grew up on the California Central Coast in a rural area outside of San Francisco. He was lucky to discover his talent and passion early in life: love of the land, of good food and cooking.  Without doubt, he entered culinary training right out of high school. After graduation in 1983, Cal entered the suitcase phase of his life, and for the next 15 years hopped around the world. 

When an opportunity came to return to Northern California he was ready to come back to his roots. On the Central Coast there are quality ingredients from the land and from the sea at his fingertips.  His friendships with the local fisherman, growers and foragers are truly invaluable.  The highlights of his day is having a fisherman drop off one hundred pounds of Monterey Bay spot prawns fresh from the ocean or a forager unexpectedly arriving at the kitchen door with a basket of chanterelle mushrooms from Big Sur.  With a fusion of vineyards and gardens literally at his kitchen door, Chef Cal easily embraces the foods he loves most - wood fired grills, California olive oils, garden-fresh vegetables and herbs, wines and vines and natural flavors.

At Bernardus Lodge, guests can enjoy Chef Cal Stamenov’s California Natural Cuisine in two unique dining rooms on property; Marinus Restaurant and Wickets Bistro.  These venues offer the best of Carmel Valley wine country living from the lush mountain views, extensive wine selections and distinctive ingredients. Marinus at Bernardus Lodge has been enjoying high praise since the resort opened in 1999, and has won Wine Spectator magazine’s highly coveted “Grand Award” for its wine cellar since 2001.   Marinus has received 4-stars from the Mobil Travel Guide for its outstanding menu, service and ambiance. Since 2001, the Zagat Survey has noted Marinus as one of the Top Restaurants and Most Romantic places south of San Francisco.

Chef Cal makes a practice of partnering with local charities, particularly those having to do with schools and environmental issues.  He is the honorary Co-Chair of Dinner in the Vineyard; MEarth’s annual fundraiser that benefits the thousands of students from across Monterey County who experience, learn, and grow with MEarth at the Hilton Bialek Habitat.  In addition, he donates his time participating in events such as Cooking for Solutions, Pebble Beach Food and Wine and the Monterey Wine Education Foundation. For several years Stamenov was at the helm of several annual and prestigious international gatherings such Masters of Food & Wine event and The Quail Motorsports Rally.

Chef Cal lives just a few miles down the road from Bernardus Lodge with his family in one of the most beautiful and desirable corners of the world. He has dogs, cats, goats and chickens, and his three girls spend most of the year enjoying the outdoors.  The family tends to over 40 rare fruit trees, herbs and vegetables in their backyard; having discovered both the satisfaction of watching something grow and the thrill of harvesting what they planted.

Discover why Bernardus is known for the premier culinary events in Carmel Valley, and why its celebrated restaurant continues to earn top honors. Marinus is a favorite among food and wine lovers, repeatedly lauded by Wine Spectator and Zagat. Wickets features the flair of Bernardus dining in a casual, Euro bistro setting... indoors and out.

The Spa

A romantic retreat nestled in the idyllic Carmel Valley, amongst sprawling oaks and sun-dappled vineyards. Scents of lavender, rosemary and lemongrass, sounds of bubbling fountains, and the warm breezes from the valley surround this hidden jewel. Steam and sauna rooms, a private outdoor tub and terra cotta walls reflecting the Warming Pool's shimmering blue images all lend to its award-winning, rustic charm. The Spa nurtures mind, body and spirit with luxurious treatments infused with pure and natural ingredients culled from the ocean, the vineyards and abundant, on-site organic gardens. So whether you seek to relax, renew or reconnect, The Spa at Bernardus Lodge offers an array of distinctive services from vinotherapy to marine-inspired treatments to international traditions, elevating relaxation to an art form.

Winemaker Dean DeKorth
Bernardus Winery

The Bernardus estate vineyards of Marinus and Featherbow Ranch are located in the Cachagua region of the Carmel Valley. We have been told that Cachagua is the Spanish word Native Americans used for deep or hidden water. It has been said that Native Americans believed that all things in nature were sacred and interrelated. Their respect for balance in nature is carried on in the vineyards of Bernardus. More than 300 live oaks have been preserved to thrive among carefully planted vines.

Of the 220 acres, 50 acres have been planted to vineyards of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Bernardus ventures forth as the fifth winery to establish vineyards in this sacred valley. While growing Bordeaux-style varieties in our estate vineyards, at Bernardus we are committed to cultivating Chardonnay in cool coastal climates, specifically the Monterey County growing region. Grapes from other superior coastal appellations in California are used to add nuances to the Bernardus blend. The vineyard components are then complemented by many different yeasts and oaks during the winemaking procedure.

Winemaker Dean DeKorth integrates his experience working with the methods and practices of Bernardus winemaking with his own personal intuition and technical expertise. Dean DeKorth, an American, is a French winemaker—all of his early impressions about wine came from his education and apprenticeship in France. A very important part of Dean’s Burgundian training was focused on distinguishing aromas and flavor qualities, as well as textural elements in the wine. With this old-world sense of taste, Dean seeks to make wines that flatter the palate. A viticulturalist, enologist, scholar, craftsman, and artist, Dean DeKorth brings to his winemaking a time-honored knowledge of wine and an endless passion –­ a passion labeled Bernardus.

At Bernardus the textural element -"the mouth feel'- is the most important expression of wine.

At a time when there is an increasing conversion of established French wine estates from seasoned wooden tanks to rows of stainless steel, Bernardus Winery was constructed to create traditional wines. Wines are aged in oak tanks and barrels specially crafted for Bernardus in the French region of Bordeaux and Burgundy. Oak is purchased from many coopers in France to allow for blending of different flavors, or "the spice rack approach".

It is the goal of Ben Pon to create wines from the promising viticultural region of Carmel Valley that will rival in style and quality the finest traditional wines. With an unequaled commitment and the resources and talent to support this commitment, Bernardus is embarking upon the next frontier in American winemaking.

Monday, June 18, 2012

06/19 Italianizing America

Stephen slows down for Italy

Italy is a culture known for embracing life to the fullest.  They work so they can live... and live they do!  Meals are long and slow, with lively conversation, food prepared with soul and love.  Coffee is enjoyed in ceramic, standing, sitting, with lively conversation, and wine is ....... beautiful!

Whether it's Italians coming to the US and bringing their passion, or Americans who have travelled to Italy, fallen in love with its vitality, and sought to replicate it here, we can only hope as much of it rubs off as possible.
Steve discovers "real" pizza - no chili flakes, just the shells
and a finger bowl!

Slow Living's Steve and Sally are part of this mission.  While in Florence, we stumbled across a wine bar and restaurant that we found so appealing for its wine, food, ambiance, Italian hospitality and charm, we couldn't stay away!  

Taking time to live life to its .......Slowest

The dei Frescobaldi Ristorante & Wine Bar in Florence is located in the city’s historic heart, right on one of the corners of the Piazza Signoria. It offers a complete panorama of wines produced by the Frescobaldi family, all accompanied by the most classic Tuscan dishes as well as by mouth-watering special food items (with a note to other Italian regions as well).

Imagine our delight, when we were asked if we could interview Paolo Bategazzore, Partner in the family's venture with the Mondavi's Folio Wine Partners and the man instrumental in bringing the US a taste of some of Italy's finest drops - two of which we pay "summer" tribute to, a lively orange Pinot Grigio and a 100% Grecheto.

We also invite our local Italian convert Executive Chef Nick Ritchie of Alex Restaurant in Rutherford to bring an American perspective on living, eating and cooking in Italy.

Paolo Battegazzore
Director of Marketing and Partner,
Folio Wine Partners

Folio Fine Wine Partners is a new adventure among a group of seasoned professionals. I joined Folio after more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience, including seven years as General Manager of Luce della Vite, originally a joint venture between two well-known wine companies:  Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi of Florence and Robert Mondavi of Napa Valley, California.

As the Director of Marketing at Folio Fine Wine Partners, I am proud to be able to lead a group of talented marketing professionals in the development of wines from around the globe. For Luce, I developed the sales and marketing strategies needed to establish the company as an international presence. I have also worked at Procter & Gamble, Guala SpA, and Francesco Cinzano & Cia. To every role I have tried to offer an extensive knowledge of wine and food, a knowledge enhanced with advanced degrees in Agricultural Sciences as well as Food  Science and Nutrition.

My father is also in the wine business, so wine and food have always been important to me. It’s rewarding to do business with people who share my priorities.

I was born and raised in Tortona, Italy, and my wonderful family recently moved with me to beautiful Napa Valley.

Within the Chianti region the Marchesi de' Frescobaldi land stretches from Pomino Doc across Brunello di Montalcino, Morellino di Scansano, continuing on through Mugello until the province of Livorno. Since the 1700's proven ability, experience, passion and love has produced a superior quality of wine derived from this region.

Our vineyards, where the perfect relationship between atmosphere and the skilled use of raw materials, permits Frescobaldi the ability to guarantee the quality and unique personality of each wine.

Attems in the History and the Future of the Friuli Wines.

For generations, Attems has been considered synonymous with viticulture in Friuli Venezia Giulia and an example of a philosophy that sees the true expression of its territory in the wine’s quality and personality. A notion that translates into a collection of renowned wines, indisputably Friuli with a unique style, reflecting its tradition in the times of today.

The wines

In Collio, Attems creates wines of character; fresh, full of flavour and elegant, which reflect the peculiarity of the terroir. Its most prestigious wine is Cibinis, produced from one single vineyard of Sauvignon Blanc, which is situated on the homonymous hill. A complex wine of great elegance and perfect balance.

Furthermore, Attems is distinguished by its two extraordinary interpretations of Pinot Grigio: the traditional Pinot Grigio Ramato, whose freshness and fruitfulness account for its aromatic intensity, and the contemporary Pinot Grigio, fresh and fruity, with strength and sapidity.

Attems Cupra Ramato Pinot Grigio

Cupra Ramato: gentle and citric
Cupra Ramato continues a tradition of the Republic of Venice, since “ramato,” or coppery, was the term that referred to Pinot Grigio in contracts. A special vinification practice led to the use of this term: the must remains in contact with the skins for 36 hours and this practice gives the wine a very distinctive coppery hue. Attems Cupra Ramato boasts a rich, fruity bouquet, and opens full and weighty on the palate, with multi-faceted flavours.

The Arnaldo Caprai winery, founded in 1971 by Arnaldo Caprai, is the acknowledged leader in the production of top quality Sagrantino wines from Italy. Arnaldo Caprai purchased the renowned estate — which encompassed 12.5 acres of vineyards four decades ago — in order to produce unique, high quality, Umbrian wines.

A singular passion and deep understanding of the local varietals, and continuous expansion of the estate fueled the growth of the winemaking company. In 1988, Arnaldo’s son, Marco Caprai, began managing the family business. During this time, production of Arnaldo Caprai premium wines increased greatly, along with global recognition of the family brand. Marco’s unbridled determination led directly to new acquisitions, scientific research and technological innovation.

Colli Martani Grechetto DOC Grecante

Grecante is a fresh, crisp wine enjoyed chilled at a temperature of 50°F as an aperitif wine or consumed with seafood, veal, or poultry dishes.

"What makes this grape special is that during the Renaissance, the head of Montefalco’s municipality used to send Grechetto as a precious gift to princes and important clergymen. Arnaldo Caprai winery keeps this long tradition alive by producing Grecante Grechetto dei Colli Martani DOC. The 2009 really showcases what this grape can produce, showing flavors of bosc pear, almond and lime, peach and pineapple, as well as a pleasing hint of crispness and bitterness, typical in this grape.

Now on to making your mouth water—if you are an oyster fan, pair this up with Kumamotos. The succulent pillows of sweetness are amazing alongside a crisp Grechetto from Umbria. The chef in the house also recommends paring this with freshly fried calamari or a crab salad. The bottom line is that this is a very versatile, food friendly wine worth exploring. Simply delicious!"
Pamela Heiligenthal, Enobytes.

About Umbria
Umbria is located in central Italy, bordered by Tuscany to the west, Le Marche to the east and Lazio to the south. A fertile region noted for its long history of wine production, Umbria is renowned for its eleven DOC zones and two DOCG zones, including  Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG. The area is characterized by a continental climate,with warm and dry summers and cold winters with some snowfall. The clay terroir yields wines rich in  extracts, bright in color and potential for improvement with long aging, while the calcium content enhances high alcohol and intensifies aromas.

Do it Sustainable: Sustainability as meeting point between present and the future
With the aim to assessing the success of the present only according to its consequences on the future, Arnaldo Caprai produces wines whose quality is not measured solely in terms of "final taste" but that includes the application at any stage of the ecofriendly and sustainable philosophy.

Starting from the first half of the 90s, we worked with the intent to minimize the environmental impact, and since 1995, we apply long-term practices focused to maintain the environmental integrity and to ethically meet the needs of the society.

As every agro-system overlaps, an existing "natural ecosystem" with some environmental impact is inevitable: our challenge is to minimize that impact working in defense of the biodiversity to preserve the soil and to avoid any waste of water. We take care about energy savings; recycling practices are carried out scrupulously and we are progressively reduce the use of chemicals spreading an ecofriendly message.

Nick Ritchie
Executive Chef
Alex Italian Restaurant, Rutherford

A native of the Napa Valley, Chef Nick Ritchie began his culinary career in the Tra Vigne kitchen in 1994 under Chef Michael Chiarello and Chef de Cuisine Carmen Quagliata.  Nick completed his Associates Degree in Culinary Arts at the CIA Hyde Park, NY as well as an internship at Sazerac in Seattle, WA with Chef Jan Birnbaum. 

In 2001 after completing his degree, Nick traveled to Lombardia, Italy working for one year at La Campagnola di Salo on Lago di Garda.  Upon his return to the United States, Nick worked under Chef Quagliata once again at The Vault, in Boston, MA.  In 2003, Nick began working as a sous chef for Chef Kevin Davis at The Oceanaire Seafood Room, Seattle, WA.

To round out his time in the Seattle area he worked for Chef Daisley Gordon at Campagne and Café Campagne.  Nick returned to the Napa Valley in 2006 to take the Chef de Cuisine position for Michael Chiarello's NapaStyle and in 2008 moved on to open Bottega where he received many accolades as Chef de Cuisine, including a Rising Star Chef in 2009.

 In May of 2011 Chef Ritchie departed from Bottega and is very excited to be the Executive Chef of Alex Italian Restaurant here in beautiful Rutherford, CA.

Alex Italian Restaurant

 Alex Italian Restaurant offers dishes focused on the fundamentals of classic Italian cooking: fresh handmade pasta, smart wine pairings, locally sourced food and attention to detail. Owners Alessandro Sbrendola and his wife Alessia offer a dining experience influenced directly from their home regions in Italy: Liguria and Romagna in a gracious and welcoming atmosphere.

Monday, June 11, 2012

06/12 From Culinary Adventures to Wine Controversies

Fast living and the need for quick fixes, has brought a great demise to the culinary skills of Americans, with many young people having no ability to cook unless it's in a box with instructions.  Our first guest has devoted her life to tackling this problem.  Lili Rollins, has forged a career in all things culinary - global adventures, television, education and ....bread.  Now she has responded to the huge need in the US to get kids back in the kitchen, through classes at Air Force Bases, and classes to instill passion for cooking in her local schools.

We then welcome Master Sommelier, Peter Granoff back to the show, to demystify some controversies on wine, and bring some new light to expand your wine world!

Lili Rollins
Lili's Culinary Adventures
Lili with a basket of Bread from her
favorite bakery, The Feel Good Bakery
in Alameda.

Lili Rollins, Principal at Lili's Culinary Adventures has been a food professional for over 20 years. Based in Alameda, Ms. Rollins started her cooking career as an assistant in Martin Yan's Cooking School. As her passion for food and cooking grew, she took her talents with her to Danville where she became the Director of Cooks N Books, a cooking school. Over the next several years she found herself working on a local TV show called, "The ShortCut Cook", creating and running the R.S.V.P. Cooking School and becoming the representative for the Capezzana Wine and Culinary Center in Italy and Lili's Culinary Adventures came into being.

Since that time Ms. Rollins has continued her passion for the culinary arts through her continuous culinary education and involvement in the San Francisco Professional Food Society, the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the Bread Project.   The Bread Project still thrives, bringing underprivileged people the skills to enter the food service and bakery industry, through training and outreach, with their own cafe in Emeryville.

More recently, seeing a need to teach children cooking basics, Ms. Rollins became an instructor for CHEF-K (Culinary Health Education for Kids) where she teaches a five-day program to the youth at Air Force Bases across the country.  She also took her Culinary Adventures into the kitchens of two Oakland Public Schools where she has developed her own program to teach children basic cooking techniques and to instill the passion for food that has been instilled in her by many wonderful professionals along her way.

Matters of Wine with Peter Granoff, M.S.

The topic of corkage is a one that is hugely controversial and makes for lively discussion.  Peter will shed light on the reasoning behind corkage fee in restaurants, and give us the low down on what the fee actually covers. 


Next we'll do battle over the dilemma of wine closures.  Are you a "cork-purist", a "screw-cap-convert" or do you like the new boxes and pouches?  We'll see what Peter has to say and some of the science behind the transitions. 


Greece is suffering from it's tragic economic crisis and not only is tourism and quality of life suffering.  Peter brings us the story of Greece’s wine industry, which was on the cusp of a revival when hit by the crisis.

Peter Granoff, M.S.
Co-Owner, Oxbow Wine and Cheese Merchant

In 1991 Peter Granoff was the 13th American to earn the coveted title Master Sommelier, and is one of the 16 Americans to date that have earned the Krug Champagne Cup by passing all three parts of the exam on the first attempt. He is active today as an examiner and lecturer for the Court of Master Sommeliers Introductory, Advanced and Masters level programs. In 1991 Peter also received the James Beard Foundation Sommelier of the year Award.

In January of 1995 Peter and his brother-in-law Robert Olson, a software engineer, launched Virtual Vineyards, an ecommerce pioneer and the first US entity to sell wine on the Internet. According to Wells Fargo Bank, Virtual Vineyards was the first business ever to process a secure credit card transaction over the Internet. It was also the subject of a Harvard Business School Case Study, and was cited in numerous business and e-commerce marketing journals & texts as a pioneer during that heady (headless?) era. The company had a good six-year run and grew to $28 million in annual sales before what Peter calls “the era of ludicrous expectations” caught up with it.

Prior to Virtual Vineyards Peter spent 25 years in the hospitality industry as a food & beverage director, wine buyer, sommelier, bartender, waiter, box schlepper, dishwasher, and busboy, including two years in the Burgundy region of France, and a year with a Relaix & Chateaux hotel in Switzerland. He even “faked it as a chef” on several occasions. He is active as a speaker, panelist, judge, and educator in numerous consumer and industry settings, and has presented at professional wine and e-commerce conferences at American universities such as Harvard, Wharton, Rhodes, and UC Berkeley, and as far away as Switzerland, France, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

In 2002 Peter joined the Adjunct Faculty at the Culinary Institute of America’s new Professional Wine Studies Program, and was an active instructor until the demands of his latest business ventures forced him to take a hiatus.

Since 2003 Peter has been co-proprietor of Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant & Wine Bar in San Francisco’s acclaimed Ferry Building Marketplace. In January of 2008 Peter and his current business partners opened Oxbow Wine Merchant & Wine Bar, and Oxbow Cheese Merchant, in the newly created Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa, California. These three businesses benefit from Peter’s accumulated business experience, down to earth perspective on wine, great sense of humor and thoroughly gray hair.
Twitter: @oxbowwine • @oxbowcheese • @fpwm

Monday, June 4, 2012

6/05 Baker & Banker Restaurant Owners with TwoXSea Founder at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco

Restaurateurs Lori Baker and Jefferey Banker of the renowned Baker & Banker Restaurant and Bakery join us tonight to talk about their paths to meet and then to start their own restaurant and adjoining bakery.  

Their passion for quality, locality and sustainability have led them to have many close relationships with purveyors. One of these, Kenny Belov, who started TwoXFish, and Fish Restaurant and retail in Sausalito, joins us to talk about fishing for the good of the oceans, the fishers, and our own health.

We broadcast this week's show at the serenely beautiful Hotel Kabuki, Baker & Banker's preferred local hotel where they recommend guests stay when dining with them.  Bathed in a zen-like, 'East-Meets- West' calm and exquisite decor and gardens, this hotel offers guests an escape within minutes of international-class shopping, dining and San Francisco sights. 

About Baker & Banker –

1701 Octavia St. San Francisco, CA 94109,
Ph: (415) 351-2500.

Baker & Banker is a collective culinary idea, some 12 years in the making. Like most culinary couples, Pastry Chef Lori Baker & Chef Jeffrey Banker had dreamed of owning and running a restaurant for about as long as they had been together.

Early in their marriage, Jeffrey was a line cook at the Meetinghouse, an earlier incarnation of their current space. It was over the course of Lori’s many visits to the space that the two both fell in love with the building. Eventually (and in the subsequent decade or so that followed) they would refer to the space simply as “our restaurant”.

The pair came dangerously close to settling on a handful of other spaces, but thankfully fate intervened in the nick of time, and the two learned of the availability of “their restaurant”, at 1701 Octavia.

Since opening its doors in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco in December of 2009, Baker & Banker has become a beloved neighborhood space and a destination dining spot.  With over 30 years combined cooking experience, Chef Jeff Banker and Pastry Chef Lori Baker, both in their mid-thirties, share a common subtle complexity in their cooking elevated by attention to detail and technique.

The Food:

Combining their love of serious food & warm hospitality, they have opted to serve upscale dishes at reasonable prices, in an easy & comfortable setting. Sourcing virtually every ingredient direct from local farmers, and drawing significant inspiration from countless years of combined local kitchen experience, the food is perhaps best described as a small expression of the San Francisco food scene from which it was conceived. It is strictly market-driven and varied in cultural influences.

The Chefs:


Lori Baker is the Pastry Chef/Owner of her debut restaurant, San Francisco’s Baker & Banker.  Opening the restaurant in Pacific Heights with her husband and Executive Chef Jeff Banker in December 2009, the two have been warmly welcomed to the neighborhood and quickly built a reputable profile in the Bay Area.  In August 2010, Lori launched the bakery adjacent to the restaurant.  Here she works to provide both sweet and savory items, as well as creating all the fresh breads and desserts for the restaurant.

Lori grew up in Cincinnati and went on to graduate from Johnson & Wales cooking school in Rhode Island. With an inherent love for baking reflected in her surname Baker, Lori moved to San Francisco to realize her dream of working as a Pastry Chef.  She later went abroad to intern at L’Angolo Dolce in Lucca, Italy and extended her education at cooking school along with a stage at Hotel Metropole in Brussels, Belgium.

Returning to San Francisco, Lori went on to work as the pastry chef at EOS, Home, Slow Club, Gordon’s House of Fine Eats and Bizou and pastry assistant at Postrio, Fifth Floor under Laurent Gras, and later Bix.  It was here in 2000 that she met Jeff Banker, her future husband.

Following her work at these esteemed San Francisco restaurants, Lori went on to teach as a professor of pastry at The California Culinary Academy.  During this time she and Jeff began to dream about opening their own restaurant and set out to find a space in which they could realize their vision.  Finding the former location of Quince, Lori and Jeff discovered it was the perfect spot to execute both a restaurant and bakery to each further their culinary creations.

As Pastry Chef at Baker & Banker, Lori creates a selection of imaginative and decadent desserts. The dessert menu might include Bartlett Pear Crisp with Brown Sugar-Pecan Streusel and Amaretti Ice Cream; Hot Spiced Butterscotch with Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows, Olive Oil Fleur de Sel Biscotti and the famous XXX- Triple Dark Chocolate Layer Cake.

The bakery in turn produces fresh breads, scones and muffins, as well as cookies such as the brown-butter chocolate chip cookies and specialty cakes. Giving guests a truly personalized experience, Lori works at the bakery by day and then greets guests in the evening in the restaurant’s dining room.

The team


Jeff Banker is a chef by training whose early stints include Patina in Los Angeles and Postrio in San Francisco. He was more recently Sous Chef at Acme Chophouse and Bix, Executive Chef for three years at Home Restaurant, Guest Chef at the popular Mission Street Food, and he also staged at (Michelin three-star) Lucas Carton in Paris while attending Le Cordon Bleu on a scholarship awarded by the IACP.

After graduating high school, Jeff proceeded to take a year off before starting at Cal Poly Polytechnic State University, where he majored in Hotel & Restaurant Management. After three years of industry experience, he moved to Newport Beach to work at Pascal then continued up the coastline to work at Patina in Los Angeles.

Wanting to go abroad, Jeff moved to Venezuela where he lived for a year and a half, before returning to San Francisco at age 23.  Upon his return, Jeff began working at well known Bay area restaurants beginning with Postrio.  Assured of his desire to be in the kitchen, Jeff continued as the sous chef at Acme Chophouse and Bix.

To strengthen his culinary skill set, Jeff staged at Lucas Carton, a three star restaurant in Paris while attending Le Cordon Bleu on a scholarship awarded by the IACP.  In 2003, he returned once again to San Francisco as the Executive Chef at  Home restaurant, where he and Lori continued their work together. The pair learned an immense amount while being involved with the restaurant for three years, during which time   Home opened their second restaurant on Union Street.  Following his experience in these prestigious restaurants, Jeff spent time as a private chef for high profile clients on the Peninsula for two and a half years.  Both Jeff and Lori have also filled in at their friends’ restaurants Nopa and Delfina in the area.

At Baker & Banker, Jeff creates local and seasonal New American cuisine.  Playing on global ingredients and influences, many of the dishes stem from his travels to France, Italy, Southeast Asia, and beyond.  Compiled to create an ever-evolving menu with French technique and worldly influences, Baker & Banker provide guests with an intimate experience in the brasserie-style interior.  Both Jeff and Lori can be seen exiting the kitchen to mingle and create an extra-personalized touch for restaurant guests.

Kenny Belov, Sausalito, CA

Innokenty Belov was born in Moscow, Russia in 1976. His family moved to the United States when he was five years old, and at 17 he was introduced to the world of ocean fishing in Florida. After moving to San Francisco in 1996, he left a career in professional photography to develop a new concept in environmentalism—a socially responsible restaurant with a soul focus on sustainability.
Kenny brought his tremendous passion and generosity to the food and beverage offerings of SalmonAID. He insisted that each restaurant providing food at SalmonAID take a pledge that they would never serve farmed salmon again – from this Fish or Cut Bait was born. Kenny now travels around the country educating restaurateurs and their patrons about the benefits of wild salmon and the economic and environmental damage brought about by salmon farming. In 2004, “Fish” in Sausalito, California opened its doors. Kenny’s commitment to local fishermen and true sustainability has created a unique entity combining waterfront dining with an ongoing commitment to consumer education about the state of the ocean and the truth behind sustainability.
Kenny and his Wife, Eden, live in Petaluma, California, with their dog, cat, three chickens, and two children—Isabella and Oliver—whom he has convinced, will still have healthy oceans and fish to eat when they grow up.

About TwoXSea

What you buy and when you buy makes an enormous difference to our oceans. The sources not only come from healthy fisheries, but they are also caught with the strictest standards of catch methods. These methods we have chosen do not deplete the resource, take unwanted by-catch or harm habitats. As the seasons change so should our buying habits; intelligent management of each fishery is based upon scientific evidence of how much each one can yield. Choosing fish that is in-season gives each species the time to fully recover from our demands for food.
All of our seafood is sourced from the fishing community directly, and there are no other wholesale operations or middlemen. More importantly, there are no tall tales about what the product is, how it was caught and whether or not it is truly sustainable. We are committed to a long term view of this renewable resource, and this list represents a diligent and honest assessment of what we must do to save the oceans for future generations, and provide fair wages and respect for the men and women who work so hard to fish in a responsible manner.

Where to Stay!

Experience a calm and serene ambiance through Hotel Kabuki’s unique blend of eastern and western influences.  Centered in San Francisco’s historic Japantown, Hotel Kabuki provides a cultural backdrop.  Combined with the Fillmore neighborhood, this quintessential location offers the best in world-class shopping, international cuisine, and exciting night life.