12 days: on the seventh day: takazawa… (2017)

  – Yoshiaki Takazawa is one of the four chefs cooking at this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas whose restaurant I have not visited.  And, admittedly, I still knew very little about this Japanese chef and his cooking when he arrived at The Restaurant at Meadowood. The anticipation and excitement surrounding Takazawa’s dinner was noticeably […]



Yoshiaki Takazawa and John Hong

Yoshiaki Takazawa is one of the four chefs cooking at this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas whose restaurant I have not visited.  And, admittedly, I still knew very little about this Japanese chef and his cooking when he arrived at The Restaurant at Meadowood.

The anticipation and excitement surrounding Takazawa’s dinner was noticeably high. What little I did manage to gather from personal friends who have been to Takazawa’s restaurant suggested that he has a dynamic approach to flavor, and that he is a phenomenal technician.  Both of these things were true to what I witnessed in the kitchen, and with what Takazawa presented on the seventh night.

Making  Mosaic

There are noticeably Modernist streaks throughout Takazawa’s cooking.

His canapés were a good example.  One was a spherified version of miso soup – the soup, served cold, encased inside a delicate bubble.

His other canapé was a squid cracker onto which he imprinted his restaurant’s contact information – name, telephone number, etc. – with squid ink. The opaque, papery slips made from squid paste and starch were stamped, then fried.  The inked figures kept their form remarkably well, considering how the chips expanded and warped in the fryer.  These edible business cards served as a greeting to guests as they entered the kitchen for the pre-dinner reception.

3rd Course:   5th Course: Chicken and Masa

Very much in the spirit of the season, Takazawa’s side of the menu comprised an ode to the American Christmas.

His first course was colorful ornament of “ratatouille” – a mosaic of seven different purées, including eggplant, bell peppers, and basil that was frozen, punched out into discs with a ring mold, and served on a frothy cloud of aerated tomato water.  It was a strangely summery, yet festive start to a holiday dinner.

Takazawa’s “Christmas Wreath” was composed of crispy, fried onions and herbs. Slices of juicy turkey were presented table-side in wooden boxes that released a bit of smoke when opened.  The smoked turkey was plated in the middle of the wreaths.

And, at end the meal, he presented each guest with a “Christmas Present,” which took the form of a custard ice cream into which caviar had been churned.  The quenelles were set on a peridot pool olive oil, and topped with a shaving of white truffle.  This dessert surprised everyone with whom I talked, including me.  It was unexpectedly and extraordinarily delicious; one of the most memorable desserts from this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas.

In reply, The Restaurant at Meadowood presented a couple of its showier dishes.

Whole squab was pressed with cherry leaves, and then sealed in a thick layer of clay from nearby Calistoga.  The birds were baked, after which the tops were uncapped. All of it was presented tableside, and then carved and plated with spinach and preserved cherries.  I loved it.

And, before dessert, servers spoon-turned cheese at the table from wheels of softened Vacherin.  They were served with a mixture of ripe and dried persimmons, and a stack of butter-fried bread from The Restaurant at Meadowood’s sister restaurant, The Charter Oak.

Below, you’ll find the menu from the seventh night of the Twelve Days of Christmas with Yoshiaki Takazawa.   To see all of the photos from this dinner, CLICK HERE.



“Miso Soup”

Squid “Business Card”


Butter Clams
Shaved red walnuts.

(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

First Course 
Façon Meadowood.

Second Course
Cauliflower Custard
Olio nuovo, aged cheese.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Third Course 
“Christmas Wreath”
Smoked turkey.

Fourth Course 
Spiny Tail Lobster
Sweetbreads, matsutake.

Fifth Course 
Squab Baked in Calistoga Clay
Spinach, preserved cherries.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Sixth Course
Aged Beef
With flavors of red wine.

Seventh Course
Fresh and dried persimmons,
The Charter Oak bread.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Eighth Course
“Christmas Present”
Caviar and white truffles.

Malartic Lagraviere
Pessac-Leognan, 2009

Unfiltered Chardonnay
Napa Valley, 1994

Charles Ranch, Sonoma Coast, 2016

Louis Remy
Latricieres-Chambertin, Grand Cru

Special Select Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley, 1994

Christopher Kostow and Yoshiaki Takazawa

Below are links to my posts and photos from all of the Twelve Days of Christmas dinners I have attended over the past four years at the Restaurant at Meadowood. Each chef is listed with the restaurant with which they were cooking at the time they participated in the event (some have moved on to other projects and restaurants).


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)


Mark Lundgaard Nielsen (Kong Hans Kælder; Copenhagen, Denmark)
Manish Mehrotra (Indian Accents; New Dehli, India; New York, New York; London, U.K.)
Jeremiah Stone & Fabián von Hauske Valtierra (Contra & Wildair; New York, New York)
Jeremy Fox (Rustic Canyon & Tallula’s; Santa Monica, California)
Ben Sukle (birch & Oberlin; Providence, Rhode Island)
Sean Brock (McCrady’s, McCrady’s Tavern, Husk, & Minero; Charleston, South Carolina)
Yoshiaki Takazawa (Takazawa; Tokyo, Japan)

Photos: Yoshiaki Takazawa at the Culinary Farm with the chef de cuisine of The Restaurant at Meadowood John Hong; creating a mosaic of “ratatouille” with seven different purées; punching out frozen discs of “ratatouille;” Takazawa plating his “Christmas wreath” dish; Christopher Kostow finishing a plate; Nick Sobiek pressing cherry leaves into whole squab before encasing them in clay; squab, carved and plated; Takazawa’s beef course ready for service; Nathaniel Dorn spoon-turning Vacherin; Kostow and Takazawa in the kitchen.


Categories 12 days 2017

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