12 days: on the twelfth day of christmas: kostow… (2017)

– It always seems to end before it begins. For five years now, I’ve had the pleasure of recording and reporting from one of the most magical corners of the culinary world during one of the most magical seasons of the year.  It is an annual gathering of extraordinary talent and goodwill that has also […]


It always seems to end before it begins.

For five years now, I’ve had the pleasure of recording and reporting from one of the most magical corners of the culinary world during one of the most magical seasons of the year.  It is an annual gathering of extraordinary talent and goodwill that has also become one of the most anticipated culinary events among spectators, and one of the most coveted invitations among chefs.

The many personal observations and sentiments about the Twelve Days of Christmas that I’ve shared along the way, especially those that I recorded at the end of 2014, still apply today.  I know they are inadequate, partly because the scope and wonder of it all defy words, but mostly because improving upon them exceeds my talent as a writer. So, dispensing with unnecessary flourishes, I bring forward all past marvel and deep-felt thanks to my colleagues, friends, and family at The Restaurant at Meadowood.  Your goals are admirable, your mission noble, and your standards ever higher.

Today, as we arrive at the Epiphany, the true end to the Twelve Days of Christmas, I draw close another very special set of a dozen days.  This year’s twelfth night marks my 60th and hosting chef Christopher Kostow’s 108th dinner of the Twelve Days of Christmas at The Restaurant at Meadowood.

2nd Course: Crab  Skier

December at The Restaurant at Meadowood is a nonstop blur of activity, excitement, and wonder. If you blink, you will surely miss something.

No matter how hard I pay attention to what’s going on in the kitchen during the day, every night, unexpected things still magically appear out of nowhere.

Nathaniel Dorn, too, is always up to something in the front of the house.  He is both general manager and the principle architect of awesome at the restaurant.  He makes things happen, like twinkling lights, cozy corners, and snow, every night of this year’s run of dinners.

After five years of having an all-access pass, every day at The Twelve Days of Christmas is still full of surprises, even for me.

3rd Course: Black Cod


As head chef, Christopher Kostow gets the credit (and the burden) every day at The Restaurant at Meadowood.  But, on the last night of the Twelve Days of Christmas, when all of the guest chefs have cleared the stage, Kostow hands the show over to his cooks, who write the final menu.

The Restaurant at Meadowood’s kitchen is comprised of a diverse group.

These talented and hard-working men and women come from the Philippines, Trinidad, Québec, Brazil, and all over the United States – Nevada, Oregon, Georgia, and California to name a few. Many of them have worked in kitchens across the world.  More significantly, their culinary curiosity know no borders.

This was reflected in the melting pot of flavors presented on the last night.

4the Course: Lamb Tongue

Christopher Kostow

I’ll share a few highlights for me from this twelfth night:

I particularly liked Fréderic Comeau-Boisvert’s canapé – pâté of foie gras sandwiched between shortbread biscuits, rolled with dried rose petals.  They were beautiful and delicious.

Cook Ali Matteis presented two notable dishes.  The first was a bowl of crab with thin slices of matsutake mushrooms.  It was elegant and simple.  She also presented a stunning dessert that played with the texture of pear and sunchoke, blurring the line between them.  They made a smart couple, and Matteis balanced the starchiness of both well with both sweetness and acidity.  I loved it.

I also really liked Nick Sobiek’s plate of lamb tongue with porcini and potato purée.  It was classic and comforting, a flavorful mid-meal pause.

Guests drink very well during the Twelve Days of Christmas.  But on this last night, the wine team, headed by Micah Clark, pull out some particularly weighty and aged bottles.  The curated wine list from this last night included Harlan Estate’s “The Maiden” (2012), as well as a pour of 1986 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon, and an imperial of 1978 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon.

Curated Wines.

The final board.

Per annual tradition, Christopher Kostow concluded this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas in the dining room with a word of gratitude to the guests and to his team – every member vacated their station and crowded into the dining room for one, final farewell and round of applause.

Below, you’ll find the menu from the twelfth and final night of the Twelve Days of Christmas, featuring dishes created by the cooks at The Restaurant at Meadowood.  To see all of the photos from this final dinner, CLICK HERE.



Foie Gras
(Frederic Comeau-Boisvert)

Taro-Fried Garden Vegetables
(Juliana Thorpe)

Koji-Cured Scarlet Turnips
(Nick Sobiek)

Cured Aji
Dragon’s Tongue
(Michael Izzard & Daniel Kim)

First Course 
Charred onions, buttermilk, yeast rolls.
(Frederic Comeau-Boisvert)

Second Course
(Ali Matteis)

Third Course 
Black Cod
Spot prawn roe butter, cabbage.
(Michael Izzard)

Fourth Course 
Lamb Tongue
Porcini, potato purée.
(Nick Sobiek)

Fifth Course 
Beef Broth
With our Sonora wheat shio koji.
(Michael Izzard and Daniel Kim)

Sixth Course
Wagyu Beef
Black truffle, oyster.
(Daniel Kim)

Seventh Course
Cremeux de Citeaux
Black apple, white truffle.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Eighth Course
Cardamaro, caramel.
(Ali Matteis)

Pumpkin Nougat
(Juliana Thorpe)

Winter Citrus Pâté de Fruit
(Ihzyan Muhd)

Napa Valley Reserve
Sauvignon Blanc
Napa Valley, 2015

Domaine Guy Amiot et Fils
“Les Caillerets”
Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru

Williams Selyem
Pinot Noir
Westside Road Neighbors
Russian River Valley, 2015

Joseph Phelps Vineyards
Cabernet Sauvignon
Backus Vineyard, Napa Valley, 1986

Harlan Estate
“The Maiden”
Napa Valley, 2012

Robert Mondavi
Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley, 1978

Day 12

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)
Thomas Keller (The French Laundry; Yountville, California)
Eric Werner (Hartwood; Tulum, Mexico)
Jock Zonfrillo (Orana; Adelaide, Australia)
Alexandre Couillon (La Marine; Noirmoutier, France)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)

Photos: It’s snowing!  The view from the dining room during the Twelve Days of Christmas; Christopher Kostow plating; Daniel Martin surprised guests by walking through the dining room during dinner in a full ski outfit and skis slung over his shoulders; buttery black cod coated in prawn butter; lamb tongue with porcini and potato on the pass; Kostow thanking guests and presenting his entire kitchen and staff at the end of the twelfth night; the curated wine list; the fully-signed board in the kitchen at the end of the twelfth night; one, final team photo.


Categories 12 days 2017

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