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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

30 October, 2017 - Live from The Wizards of Elixer

 Slow Living Radio follows on from last week's interview coming to you live from the Wizards of Elixirs event at The CIA at Copia.  We welcome Michele Lex, of Perfect Puree and Marko Karakasevic of Charbay, sponsors of the event, along with contestants and past winners, Danny Ojinaga of Mario and John's in Sonoma, Cornelia Mathis from the Verasa Westin Hotel's "Bank", and Rafa Barba of St Helena's Good and Gancer. 

More than $10,000 raised in Wizards of Elixirs Cocktail Competition hosted by The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley and Charbay Distillery
  Proceeds Benefit Four Counties Affected by North Bay Wildfires —

The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley and Charbay Distillery, with location host CIA at Copia, raised more than $10,000 for families affected by the fires in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake Counties Monday night, Oct. 30, at their first annual Wizards of Elixirs Cocktail Competition.

The Grand Prize-winning team of Kelly Dallas and Mel Valencia from Solbar in Calistoga impressed the 300 attendees with “Garnet Horizon,” a fall elixir featuring Charbay Pomegranate Vodka, The Perfect Purée Pear, Rittenhouse Rye, hazelnut liqueur and garnet yam juice.

Kelly Douglas and Mel Valencia

Second place was awarded to Adam Welch of the Geyserville Gun Club Bar & Lounge for “The Shogun,” with third place going to Vincent Lundeen of Andaz Napa with “Monkey’s Breakfast.” (See full recipes below.)

“Response to the competition from attendees was overwhelmingly positive,” said Michele Lex, President & Chief Marketing Officer for The Perfect Purée. “The wildfires were devastating, but the display of compassion and resiliency of our North Bay community is inspiring to us all.”

Sixteen of wine country’s top bartenders vied for the People’s Choice Award at The Wizards of Elixirs, a friendly cocktail competition fashioned in walk-around style at the Culinary Institute of America’s Copia location in Napa. Attendees sampled the competing cocktails along with apps and light snacks prepared by the CIA then attended the Halloween costume dance after-party.

Proceeds from ticket and raffle sales totaling more than $10,000 will be distributed between four counties severely affected by the October fires, which killed 42 people and destroyed an estimated 7,000 homes and other buildings.

Grand Prize Winning Cocktail

Kelly Dallas & Mel Valencia, Solbar

Garnet Horizon

·      1.5 oz. Charbay Pomegranate Vodka
·      0.5 oz. Rittenhouse Rye
·      0.5 oz. The Perfect Purée Pear Puree
·      0.25 oz. hazelnut liqueur
·      1 oz. garnet yam juice
·      0.5 oz. lime juice
·      0.5 oz. maple
·      3 dashes of Peyschaud’s Bitters
Combine ingredients with ice, shake and strain up. Garnish with marshmallow cream, candied pecan and pomegranate seed.

Second Place Winning Cocktail

Adam Welch, Geyserville Gun Club Bar & Lounge
The Shogun
·      1.5 oz. Charbay Green Tea Vodka
·      0.25 oz.  The Perfect Purée Yuzu Luxe Sour blend
·      1 bar spoon of The Perfect Purée Coconut Puree
·      0.5 oz. saké
·      0.5 oz. pineapple sage syrup
·      0.75 oz. lime juice
·      0.5 oz. egg white
Combine ingredients with ice, shake and strain into glass. Garnish with matcha tea and matcha shiso salt.

Third Place Winning Cocktail
Vincent Lundeen, Andaz Napa
Monkey’s Breakfast
·      1 oz. Charbay Meyer Lemon Vodka
·      0.5 oz. Amaro Montenegro
·      0.25 oz. Dancing Pines Walnut Liqueur
·      1 oz. banana/oat syrup, made with The Perfect Purée Banana Purée
·      0.75 oz. lemon juice
Shake ingredients, double strain over ice in a large rocks glass. Garnish with grated nutmeg.

Banana/Oat Syrup
·      1 cup The Perfect Purée Banana Puree
·      1 cup toasted old fashioned rolled oats
·      5 cups hot water
·      1.5 cups brown sugar
·      1.5 cups white sugar
1.       Put oats, banana purée and hot water together and let sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
2.       After sitting, put the mixture in a blender and blend until smooth.
3.       Strain to get as much of the solids as you can. You should be left with about 3 cups.
4.       Bring to a simmer and add brown and white sugar, stirring until the sugar completely dissolves.
5.       Keep refrigerated. Good for 2-3 weeks.

About The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley

Since 1988, The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley has indulged the culinary passions of chefs, mixologists and food enthusiasts with products that provide ultimate fresh fruit flavor without the peeling, dicing and simmering required for making purées from scratch.

The company’s line-up of fruit purées and specialties features more than 40 premium flavors, ranging from pantry staples such as raspberry, strawberry and banana to the exotic lychee, passion fruit and pink guava. All products contain no artificial additives, preservatives or sweeteners. The fruits are harvested at the peak of season, puréed and packed frozen to maintain optimal freshness, flavor and color no matter the season. As the leading U.S. producer of premium fruit purées, The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley is revered in restaurants, hotels, bars, bakeries and catering kitchens for the just-picked taste and unmatched consistency of its products.

All flavors can be frozen for up to 24 months from date of manufacture. When thawed, the purées and specialties last 7-10 days in the refrigerator, and blends for 21 days.

About Charbay Distillery

The Karakasevic family is one of the early pioneers of the modern American artisan distillery movement; they began distilling in California in 1983 with Alembic Pot Still Brandy and haven't stopped since. The line-up includes whiskeys distilled from bottle-ready beer, brandies distilled from Napa Valley grapes, vodkas flavored with 100% real fruit or tea and rum distilled from sugar cane syrup. Marko is Generation XIII to carry on the family's European heritage of fermenting and distilling. His 25-year apprenticeship covered every category of distilling. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

27 November, 2017 - Chef Dustin Vallette and his purveyor family.

Dustin Valette from Healdsburg's renowned Vallette restaurant, brings us his story, and two  of his "family" of purveyors, Taylor Tucker, farmer, and Mark McWilliams, winemaker.  Hear how they are supporting the #RiseupSonoma event to raise funds for victims of the recent Sonoma fires.

Dustin Valette,
Chef Owner

Chef Dustin Valette began his restaurant career at the age of thirteen washing dishes at Catelli’s in his hometown of Geyserville, California. Two years later he took an apprenticeship at Chateau Souverain, a Francis Ford Coppola Estate, where he worked under Executive Chef Martin Courtman, – beginning the twenty-plus year culinary journey toward his dream of opening a restaurant dedicated to showcasing the rich bounty and beautiful ingredients of his Sonoma County roots.

Valette honed his craft in some of the most celebrated restaurants on the West Coast, including the Michelin-starred Aqua in San Francisco and Napa Valley’s Bouchon. Additional credits include Hokus at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Honolulu, a five-star, five-diamond property; the exclusive North Ranch Country Club in Westlake Village, California; and VOX Restaurant & Wine Lounge in Henderson, Nevada. Most recently, Valette spent six years as Executive Chef of Dry Creek Kitchen, a Charlie Palmer restaurant in downtown Healdsburg. At Dry Creek Kitchen, he gathered great acclaim for the strong relationships he cultivated with local farmers and purveyors in order to provide the restaurant with the area’s freshest and most unique ingredients. Valette was known for his exceptional ability to pair some of the country’s best wines with his intense, flavorful and dynamic cuisine.

The idea of Valette Restaurant began nearly two decades ago over a glass of wine shared between two brothers, Dustin and Aaron Garzini, while sitting at their father’s house overlooking the expansive Alexander Valley. At the time, Aaron was establishing himself at John Ash in Santa Rosa as a dynamic server and sommelier; and Dustin was in New York fine- tuning the culinary craft that would be his life-long passion. The two dreamed of opening a restaurant which featured the breadth and depth of ingredients Sonoma County has to offer. It would serve high quality, yet honest and approachable food; offer impeccable service and house a collection of boutique, small production wines. In 2015, Valette Restaurant opened its doors to the public, showcasing 47 years of combined restaurant experience, and a deep passion and dedication to Sonoma Country and its food and wine purveyors and producers.

Originally from Sonoma County, Valette is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He currently resides with his wife, their two young daughters and two dogs in Downtown Healdsburg, a block away from the restaurant.

Fun Fact: During the summer months Chef Valette travels to the Healdsburg Farmer’s market and carries back the bounty of local produce in a classic Red Flyer wagon. Valette is also an avid home winemaker of classic Bordeaux varietals, which he hand harvests from his uncle’s vineyard in Alexander Valley, though he will proclaim he is a better chef than winemaker.....


Tucker Taylor
Director of Culinary Gardens,
Jackson Family Wines

Tucker Taylor grew up outside of Jacksonville, Florida on a three-acre plot of land where he helped his father tend their garden each summer. Not thinking at the time that his passion could become a career, he went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus on finance from the University of Florida. While there, he worked as a prep cook at a restaurant next to campus called Café Gardens, where he convinced the owners to give him a small stipend to purchase some plants and help clean up the landscape. He hung baskets full of flowers on the wrought iron fence, planted an elm tree for shade, and cleaned up the existing landscape, earning the restaurant the City Beautification Award. This experience sparked his initial interest in designing with plants.
After graduating, Tucker began working at a bank, but quickly realized he would rather be outside gardening. He returned to the University of Florida to pursue a second degree in agriculture with a focus on environmental horticulture – a field that interested him with its combination of art and science, allowing him to be simultaneously creative and analytical.
Upon graduating, Tucker moved to the Oregon, eventually settling outside of Portland, where he designed and managed his first organic farm. He later worked outside of Atlanta managing the production of specialty produce on another organic farm, before moving back to the west coast to take a job as a grower for Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry in Napa Valley, where he spent five years and redesigned the gardens across the street to be an extension of the restaurant.
In 2013, he seized the opportunity to join Kendall-Jackson and redesign their famous culinary gardens. At Kendall-Jackson, he works hand in hand with the culinary team, scouring the globe for new and interesting crops to grow. Tucker loves sharing the garden with visitors from around the world and hopes to educate guests on the importance of fresh food – and inspire them to plant gardens at home. He currently resides in Healdsburg, California, where he tends to his bonsai collection and enjoys preparing dinner with fresh produce from his garden – and a nice bottle of Pinot Noir!

Follow him on Instagram @farmert.


Mark McWilliams

Arista Winery was founded in 2002 by Al and Janis McWilliams (seated center). From the beginning the McWilliams have firmly believed that the finest examples of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are produced in small lots. This belief has always led to an emphasis on quality over quantity and a determination to discover and develop unique vineyard sites that reflect the distinct characteristics of the Russian River Valley.  In 2012 the McWilliams’ sons Mark (standing left) and Ben (standing right) took over the family business and now run the day-to-day operations. 


On December 3, 2017, Rise Up Sonoma will bring together iconic Sonoma County wineries, Chefs, and legendary music stars to benefit those deeply affected by the tragic Sonoma County fires.

When: December 3, 2017 – from 4:00 - 9:00 PM
Where: Sonoma Country Day School – Jackson Theatre at 4400 Day School Place, Santa Rosa, CA 95403

“These are our friends and family, and this is our community,” says Chef Dustin Valette. “Lives have been permanently altered and I want to help in the best way I know how. We’ve assembled exceptional restaurant teams from San Francisco and Sonoma County to create an amazing and delicious night of giving.”

The loss of life, homes, and businesses was devastating for so many. Some facts that show the impact of the North Bay fires:

More than 160,000 acres—or 250 square miles—have burned in Sonoma, Napa, and Solano counties.

Forty-three people have died across Northern California, including 23 in Sonoma County alone. As of last week, dozens of people were still missing. Altogether, the Northern California fires are the deadliest in the state’s history.

Cal Fire tally of Sonoma County’s three simultaneous fires last month reported close to 9,000 structures were destroyed, and 5,500 homes that were completely destroyed, with an additional 4,000 partially burned. The Tubbs fire alone destroyed 4,658 homes in the Santa Rosa-area, including Fountaingrove, Coffey Park, Larkfield and a number of rural neighborhoods, a fact worsened by the Bay Area’s already dire housing crisis. Those who can afford to rebuild their homes face a labor shortage and steep labor costs.
• The state commissioner estimated that losses have topped $3 billion, and that number is expected
to increase. The fire now ranks as the state’s most destructive, and damage from Sonoma County’s three have made it the costliest in U.S. history.

“I’ve been personally affected, but I did not lose everything. I immediately jumped at the chance to join my winery friends to help,” says Mike Sullivan, Benovia Winery. “The best part of the wine industry is the generosity that runs through it. We will rebuild, help those in dire need and become a stronger community because of this adversity.”

The wine and food community are joining together to create an incredible night to raise money and awareness for those who have lost so much.


All proceeds from the event will be distributed to the following charities in support of victims:

Direct Human Element:
Care Relief Fund:
Redwood Credit Union Fund
UnDocuFund Fire Relief for Sonoma County
Long-term and short-term housing:
Burners Without Borders:
Homes for Sonoma:
Rebuild Wine Country:

A very passionate group of dedicated and compassionate people pulled together for an incredible evening in Sonoma County benefiting those deeply affected by the devastating north bay fires. This group consists ofSan Francisco/Sonoma County’s most influential and notable chefs and restaurants.The winery partners are comprised of the rarest and most sought after in the country. The event is an evening of delectable wine, food, and one of a kind auction items, finished with a sensational concert led by some of music industry’s legendary artists. To learn more, please visit:

Alden Alli, Aperture, Arista Winery, Benovia Winery, Bob Cabral Wines, Carlisle Winery & Vineyards, CIRQ, Coursey Graves Winery, Davis Family Winery, Devil Proof Vineyards, DuMol Winery, Eric Kent Wine Cellars, Ernest Vineyards, Failla Winery, Flaunt Wine Company, Hartford Winery, Hirsch Vineyards, Holdredge Wines, Iron Horse, Joseph Swan, Kesner, Kistler, Kosta Browne, Lancaster Vineyards, Lando Wines, Limerick Lane, Lombardi Wines, Martinelli Vineyards & Winery, Mauritson, Rombauer Vineyards, Saxon Brown, Siduri, The Larsen Projekt, Three Sticks Wines, Williams Selyem, Young Hagen

SAN FRANCISCO: Alta, August 1 Five, Bar Agricole, Bi-Rite Market, Boulevard, Cala, Delfina/Locanda, Ichi Sushi, Jardiniere, Nopa, Nopalito, Plumed Horse, Sea Glass, Statebird Provisions, The Commissary, The Progress, Trou Normand, Twenty Five Lusk
SONOMA COUNTY: Backyard Forestville, Barndiva, Boon Eat + Drink, Campo Fina, Catelli's Restaurant, Chalkboard/The Brass Rabbit, Cyrus/Healdsburg Bar & Grill, Diavola, Dry Creek Kitchen, Farmhouse Inn, Girl and the Fig, Guy Fieri, Handline Coastal, Kendall Jackson, Nick's Cove, Ramen Gaijin/Khom Loi, Sea Thai/Sea Noodle Bar, Shed, The Spinster Sisters, Spoonbar, St. Francis Winery, The Pharmacy, Trading Post, Valette Healdsburg, Willi's Wine Bar, Zazu Kitchen + Farm, Local Three GA, Wahoo's

3 Disciples Brewing, Bear Republic Brewing Company, Moonlight Brewing, Russian River Brewing Company, Sonoma County Distilling, Spirit Works Distillery