A returned phone call, availability for an immediate meeting and true interest in the happenings at St. Helena Olive Oil Co. are not things that I would expect from one of the youngest three Michelin star chefs in the Country. Christopher Kostow, chef at The Restaurant at Meadowood, is a breath of fresh air.
On Friday…yes as in four days ago…I decided that one of our posts should be on The Restaurant. I am going to feature a different venue in the Napa Valley with every newsletter and thought whom better to start with then a customer who inspires us to be the very best. I knew the chances were slim that I could get pictures or a meeting at this late date but I never have time to contemplate odds. I reached out to Ben Nerenhausen, sous chef, as he had been our contact. He said he would forward it to Christopher and they would see what they could do. In the same note, he asked for more olive oil….hmm…perhaps a delivery I would make myself..with iphone camera in hand.
The following morning Kaelin and I headed out to make the delivery and perhaps have lunch at The Grill. Christopher had left me a message that morning so I returned his call as we drove past the Meadowood gates. I had no expectation of meeting him that day but after the conversation turned to olive oil and his passion was apparent, I let him know we were right outside his front door…with olive oil. He did not defer to his receiving person but rather came up and let us in himself. He went on to give us a tour of the remodeled restaurant and kitchen…his pride in every detail was on his sleeve.
After our tour, we sat down to discuss how we could work together this harvest. I brought him up to speed on our estates, varietals, etc… and we discussed the characteristics he was looking for in an extra virgin olive oil. It was apparent that a tasting would be in order so we could match descriptors and I could really understand what flavor profiles he was looking for. The conversation was so inspiring as it gave me more to shoot for this year…I know it’s going to be a big harvest so I’ll have fruit to work with…and to create something that will please his pallet is a challenge that I am looking forward to.
I knew at this point that I could take a little risk and talk to him about the products that we make for our Napa Valley Bath Co. We talked about our organic Napa Valley lavender essential oil, hydrosols, and the calendula oil that I just made…after all, calendula flowers are edible and used in salads. He was curious…and was interested in samples to get a better understanding of the flavor profiles. His open mindedness and sense of wonderment was refreshing…and inspiring.
As we prepared to say good-bye, Christopher invited us to The Restaurant for dinner…so we could understand what they do. It was the mix of emotion from his overwhelming hospitality, sense of connection, and generosity that left me speechless…but only for a second. I graciously accepted his invitation….Tuesday the 17th at 7:30pm….dinner for three at The Restaurant at Meadowood.
With next steps in place, we said our goodbyes and headed back to the car. As we walked out the door, Kaelin giggled and said, “Wow, mom, I love this part of your job! “.
Stay tuned for next weeks newsletter where we reveal how Christopher and his staff fed a vegan, a vegetarian and a carnivore.