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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 CafĂ© 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