MM: How would you sum up Napa’s new cuisine in five words? CK: Honest, dynamic, agrarian, wild and artisanal.
MM: Has writing a cookbook always been a goal of yours? CK: No, I really had no intention of writing a cookbook until much later on in my career. This book isn’t a complete retrospective or a summation, but more of what we’ve done up until this point. It’s a kernel of an idea that is by no means completely fleshed out yet, but it seemed like a good time to plant the flag.
MM: So this could potentially be the first in a series? CK: Yes.
MM: What made you decide to add personal elements (essays, etc.) to the book? CK: I think the personal elements are really the thrust of the book. Recipes are great, but this isn’t an instructional book. The recipes and dishes included function as part of the overarching narrative. While the book does cover work that we’ve done at the Restaurant at Meadowood, it has a more personal tone throughout, and it details my path and experiences — which is why I thought it was important that I write it myself.
MM: What did you learn while creating this book? CK: We learned a lot about self-editing, as sometimes a favorite dish isn’t the correct dish to complement a certain chapter or theme.
MM: What separates the Restaurant at Meadowood from other Napa Valley eateries? CK: I think it’s a desire or willingness to embrace where we are, not just in terms of the type of clientele that the location attracts, but rather the opportunities we are given in a creative sense — foraging, farming, really making use of what’s around us. This mentality benefits us, our guests, the artisans and the growers, and the entire community is better off for it.
MM: Quick dedication? CK: There are (and have always been) many great chefs in the valley, and the work we are able to do is due in great part to the pioneering work of the chefs who came before us.
The Slanted Door Cookbook: Modern Vietnamese Food by Charles Phan, Ten Speed Press, $40. The cookbook the Bay Area has been craving is finally here. Gorgeous photographs will make your mouth water as you remember the incredible food at this uniquely San Franciscan restaurant. With clear instructions and a healthy dose of inspiration, Charles Phan provides recipes that will excite.
Blue Chair Cooks with Jam and Marmalade by Rachel Saunders, Andrews McMeel Publishing, $45. This delightful cookbook demonstrates how preserves can improve many of your favorite foods. From scrumptious jam-filled doughnuts to Brussels sprouts with kumquats and smoked salt, Rachel Saunders presents a new way to think about jam.
A New Napa Cuisine by Christopher Kostow, Ten Speed Press, $50. This cookbook reflects the Napa setting that inspired it — Christopher Kostow is the head chef at the three-Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood. Along with the remarkable recipes, it also spotlights the artisans, gardeners and landscapes that influence Kostow. Eye-catching photographs help make this book a true ode to the beauty and food of the Napa Valley.
Della Fattoria Bread: 63 Foolproof Recipes for Yeasted, Enriched & Naturally Leavened Breads by Kathleen Weber, Artisan, $29.95. Della Fattoria Bakery was named one of America’s 10 Best Bread Bakeries by Bon Appétit in 2010 and provides all the bread for Thomas Keller’s restaurants. This immersive cookbook teaches readers to bake using all five senses, taking the fear out of creating delicious flavorful breads. Learn how much fun and easy artisanal baking can be.
Twelve Recipes by Cal Peternell, HarperCollins, $26.99. Enjoy the fundamentals of cooking as taught by the Chez Panisse chef. Inspired by a desire to impart more than 20 years of cooking wisdom to his son, Cal Peternell has created a comprehensive guide. Elevate your kitchen confidence as you learn 12 enticing recipes. Appearing at Left Bank Restaurant as part of Book Passage’s Cooks With Books series December 7, 12:30 p.m