winter is coming…


Winter in Napa.


I know, I know, the producers of Game of Thrones are releasing new seasons more frequently than I’m posting here.

It’s embarrassing.

I have much to record and share.  And I wish I could to be more regular about it. But that’s unlikely in the coming months, given that my travel schedule will find me suspended me at cruising altitude through the end of the year: Thailand, Cambodia, France, South Africa, Zambia, with pit stops all over the U.S. in between.

But as exciting as all of these adventures are, I am happy to say that my final destination in 2017 will, once again, be The Restaurant at Meadowood.

Perhaps the only thing (among the circles in which I turn) that is more highly anticipated than the return of the Iron Throne: The Twelve Days of Christmas are back. And I will have the honor and pleasure of photographing the series for a fifth time.


Making tartare.  10th Course: Kelp Mousse


An impressive collection of talented chefs from around the world is now de rigueur for this celebrated event. So you should not be surprised by the caliber of this year’s roster.  But, I am especially excited by it because chef Christopher Kostow and his team will welcome to the kitchen at Meadowood Napa Valley some of my good friends and favorite people in the industry. I have not only worked with many of them and respect them, but I also like them, immensely.

Others have been generous to point out the diversity of this year’s guest chefs, and I will briefly echo them in doing the same. They will come from seven countries on four continents, and span a wide age range. Having been to the restaurants of seven of these twelve chefs (eight of them by the time the series begins) – I’ve visited some of their restaurants as many as a dozen times or more – I can tell you that they represent incredibly diverse culinary perspectives, with unique styles and voices.  It’s going to be a good December at Meadowood Napa Valley.


Crispy rice!  H. Sean Brock


This year’s celebration will benefit Saint Helena Preschool for All, Inc., a local non-profit organization providing scholarships to three and four-year-old children. The Restaurant at Meadowood will donate $2,000 in honor of each participating chef, plus 10 percent of every dinner ticket sold. In the spirit of the Holiday Season, guests are encouraged to bring unwrapped toys to the event which will then be distributed to Fire Departments throughout the Napa Valley.

Reservations will open tomorrow (September 1, 2017).  Visit the The Restaurant at Meadowood website for details.


December 8
Kong Hans Kælder
Copenhagen, Denmark

December 9
Indian Accents
New Delhi, India

December 12
Contra and Wildair
New York, New York

December 13
Rustic Canyon
Los Angeles, California

December 14
Birch and Oberlin
Providence, Rhode Island

December 15
McCrady’s, McCrady’s Tavern, Husk, Minero
Charleston, South Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee

December 16
Aronia de Takazawa
Tokyo, Japan

December 19
The French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon
Yountville, California; New York, New York

December 20
Tulum, Mexico

December 21
Restaurant Orana
Adelaide, Australia

December 22
La Marine
Noirmoutier, France

December 23
The Restaurant at Meadowood, The Charter Oak
St. Helena, California

To read about previous Twelve Days of Christmas dinners I’ve photographed and attended:


Scott Anderson (Elements; Princeton, New Jersey)
John & Karen Shields (Formerly of Townhouse; Chilhowie, Virginia)
Phillip Foss (EL Ideas; Chicago, Illinois)
Stuart Brioza & Nicole Krasinski (State Bird Provisions; San Francisco, California)
Jason Franey (Canlis Restaurant; Seattle, Washinton)
Matthias Merges (Yusho; Chicago, Illinois)
Mori Onodera (Formerly of Mori Sushi; Los Angeles, California)
James Syhabout (Commis; Oakland, California)
Nick Anderer (Maialino; New York, New York)
David Toutain (Agapé Substance; Paris, France)
Josh Habiger & Erik Anderson (The Catbird Seat; Nashville Tennessee)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


Andy Ricker (Pok Pok, Portland, Oregon & New York, New York)
Rodolfo Guzman (Boragó; Santiago, Chile)
Carlo Mirarchi (Blanca and Roberta’s; Brooklyn, New York)
Tim Cushman (O Ya; Boston, Massachusetts)
Ashley Christensen (Poole’s Diner; Raleigh, North Carolina)
David Chang (Momofuku; New York, New York)
Matthew Accarrino (SPQR; San Francisco, California)
Mark Ladner & Brooks Headley (Del Posto; New York, New York)
Rasmus Kofoed (Geranium; Copenhagen, Denmark)
Nicolaus Balla & Cortney Burns (Bar Tartine; San Francisco, California)
David Kinch (Manresa; Los Gatos, California)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


Matthew Orlando (Amass; Copenhagen, Denmark)
Frank Castranovo & Frank Falcinelli (Frankies 457, Prime Meats; New York, New York)
Kobe Desramaults (In de Wulf; Dranouter, Belgium)
Alexandre Gauthier (La Grenouillère; La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil, France)
Blaine Wetzel (Willows Inn; Lummi Island, Washington)
Joshua McFadden (Ava Gene’s; Portland, Oregon)
Virgilio Martinez (Central; Lima, Peru)
Grant Achatz (Alinea; Chicago, Illinois)
Corey Lee (Benu; San Francisco, California)
Esben Holmboe Bang (Maaemo; Oslo, Norway)
Ignacio Mattos (Estela; New York, New York)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park, NoMad; New York, New York)
Nenad Mlinarevic (Focus; Vitznau, Switzerland)
Christian Puglisi (relæ; Copenhagen, Denmark)
Jorge Vallejo (Quintonil; Mexico City, Mexico)
Joshua Skenes (Saison; San Francisco, California)
Matthew Wilkinson (Pope Joan; Melbourne, Australia)
Kim Floresca and Daniel Ryan ([One]; Chapel Hill, North Carolina)
Isaac McHale (The Clove Club; London, The United Kingdom)
Kyle Connaughton (Single Thread; Healdsburg, California)
Atsushi Tanaka (A.T. Restaurant; Paris, France)
Justin Yu (Oxheart; Houston, Texas)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


Photos: The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, California; Mark Lundgaard Nielsen carving venison at Kong Hans Kælder in Copenhagen, Denmark; Fabian von Hauske plating dessert, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California; Ben Sukle in Kansas City, Missouri; Sean Brock in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

~ by ulterior epicure on August 31, 2017.

One Response to “winter is coming…”

  1. So excited that this is back and that you’ll be there to share it with us. Looking forward to seeing Sean Brock’s work on this side of the country.

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