Perhaps my favorite aspect of the Twelve Days of Christmas at The Restaurant at Meadowood is the “cross pollination” that takes place among the chefs and cooks here at Meadowood Napa Valley.
There’s quite a bit of dialogue among chefs nowadays, thanks to the internet and the well-ridden circuit of international chef congresses and conferences that bring proximity to what would otherwise be a rather scattered community of culinary artists and voices. However, rarely do those meetings allow for any meaningful interaction among the chefs: they pop in to make their presentation, sit through a few others’, and move on to the next conference, where they’ll make the same presentation, and sit through the same ones they saw before. At these events, rarely do chefs get to taste each other’s food, or work alongside each other. These congresses and conferences are best at providing a quick introduction – a snapshot – of what is happening around the culinary world.
But the Twelve Days of Christmas allows for a slightly more intimate, more thoughtful exchange to occur. And this is why this event captures my interest and support more than many others. I see, first-hand, a more meaningful conversation happening among the guest chefs and, perhaps more importantly, with the cooks, who get to work alongside the guest chefs. They talk with each other, they learn from each other, and they taste each other’s food. This is an invaluable opportunity and education for young cooks, and for the visiting guest chefs.
The guest chefs spend at least two days in the kitchen at The Restaurant at Meadowood, getting an immersive introduction to Kostow’s kitchen culture, the community that supports and surrounds him, and the terroir of Napa Valley. They tour the restaurant’s collaborative garden at the Montessori School of St. Helena, and engage with local producers, winemakers, and culinarians.
Needless to say, the collaborative dialogue at the Twelve Days of Christmas is especially rich when guest chefs introduce a perspective or culture that is unfamiliar to the Meadowood Napa Valley community. That is why I am particularly excited about this year’s roster of guest chefs, which brings a diversity of culinary voices – foreign and domestic – to Napa Valley.