Many refer to Chef John Ash as the “Father of Wine Country Cuisine”. In 1980 he opened his namesake restaurant, John Ash & Company, in Santa Rosa, CA. It was the first restaurant in Northern California wine country to focus on local, seasonal ingredients used to create dishes that complemented the wines being made in the region.
Chef Lizzie Binder was a “cheftestant” on Bravo’s Top Chef: Seattle (2013) and will be our guest chef at the Farm Tour at The Fork. Lizzie was born and raised in South Africa and has traveled around the world deepening her knowledge of cuisine. Lizzie spent time at Jardiniere in San Francisco, The French Laundry in Napa, and Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Most recently she was the Executive Chef of the acclaimed Italian-inspired Bar Bambino in San Francisco.
Nancy Brunner was in the restaurant business for 25 years, the last 10 as an executive chef before she started with Whole Foods Market in 2010. She worked most of that time in Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties. She has had a passion for food her entire life and has found that her passion benefits her customers and team members. She shares recipes and exchanges ideas as the Cheese Specialist at Whole Foods.
Jacquelyn Buchanan has more than 20 years of culinary experience and an enduring passion for artisanal, local, and sustainably grown foods. Today, as Director of Laura Chenel’s Chèvre, Jacquelyn’s enduring interest in the art of fine cheesemaking overlays her sensibility when it comes to educating others about artisan cheese.
In addition to actively managing their 70 head herd of dairy goats, Gianaclis Caldwell is the cheesemaker and owner (along with her husband, Vern Caldwell) of Pholia Farm, a licensed dairy located on 24 of the 200 plus acres she grew up on in southern Oregon. Gianaclis is the author of two books – Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking: The Ultimate Guide for Home-Scale and Market Producers and The Farmstead Creamery Advisor: The Complete Guide to Building and Running a Small, Farm-Based Cheese Business.
Chef Mayet Cristobal is the Executive Chef for Bon Appétit at the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu, CA. She was born and raised in the Philippines, where her culinary journey began at an early age. She grew up in a family where food brought people together, nourishing body and soul; she understood the importance of building community through breaking bread together.
Since cheese has been Sarah Dvorak’s mission for several years, it is appropriate that the name of her new shop is Mission Cheese. Dvorak immersed herself in the cheese community through conferences, classes and “the Great American Cheese Tour,” and eventually the concept for Mission Cheese was born.
Janet Fletcher is the author of Cheese & Wine: A Guide to Selecting, Pairing, and Enjoying, The Cheese Course and My Calabria. She writes a weekly cheese column for the San Francisco Chronicle and is a former staff writer who has earned three James Beard Awards and the IACP Bert Greene Award. She also writes the Cheese Focus column for Specialty Food, a trade publication, and is the author of The Cheese Plate, an iPhone app.
Rich Higgins became a professional brewer in 2004. His passion for beer led him to passing all three levels of examination from the Cicerone Certification Program®, and in 2010 he became the third Master Cicerone® in the world. The accreditation certifies him as an excellent interpreter of palate and the ways in which beer develops and heightens a meaningful dining experience. He has a passion for quality, respect for authenticity and is dedicated to celebrating beer and food in the San Francisco area.
Kirstin Jackson is the author of It’s Not You, It’s Brie: A Guide to Unwrapping America’s Unique Culture of Cheese, cheese and wine consultant, and educator who eats, sleeps and breathes cheese. She is the wine bar manager and cheese program director at Solano Cellars Wine Shop and Wine Bar and also writes for publications such as the LA Times and NPR’s Kitchen Window.
Mary Karlin is a passionate cook, cooking teacher, freelance food writer and cookbook author. She was a founding staff member and is currently a visiting chef- instructor at the award-winning Ramekins Culinary School in Sonoma, CA, where she has taught wood-fired cooking, cheesemaking and Mediterranean-themed cooking classes for over ten years. Mary has also authored two books, Wood Fired Cooking and Artisan Cheesemaking at Home.
Jennifer Luttrell is The Fork’s executive chef and culinary program director at Point Reyes Farmstead. Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, founded in 2000, is the only classic style blue cheese made in California.
Leah McFadden has worked in the cheese industry for nearly 3 years and recently became one of the newly minted ACS Certified Cheese Professionals. She is a team leader at Whole Foods Market and loves to cultivate cheese passion and knowledge in both her team members and her customers. One way she reaches out to her customers is in her cheese blog called Shootin’ the Bries.
Garrett McCord is a food writer, writing instructor, culinary consultant, freelance food photographer and recipe developer who loves to share his enthusiasm for food and the written word. He is the editor of the popular blog Vanilla Garlic and his other work was appeared in numerous publications such as Gourmet Live, Epi-Log and Cheese Connoisseur. He is also the co-author with Stephanie Stiavetti of the cookbook Melt: The Art of Macaroni & Cheese which will hit shelves this year.
Lenny Rice-Moonsammy grew up in Hugo, Oklahoma and was inspired by her mom’s cooking an early age. Her desire to work with the best food, wine and chefs in the country drove Lenny to the Napa Valley, where she worked for Robert Mondavi Winery and Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts before landing a job at the Cowgirl Creamery and now Bellwether Farms in Sonoma County. Lenny’s extreme cheese knowledge led her to persuade foodie friend Brigid Callinan to co-author a cookbook titled Fondue.
In 2003 Bob Peak began to work with The Beverage People and in 2006 became a partner. Bob enjoys making cheese, wine and beer at home; some of which have won awards including a blue ribbon at the California State Fair, a first-place gold medal in the Western Regionals of the American Homebrew Association competition, and the rare opportunity to brew a Pro-Am collaboration beer at Bear Republic Brewing in Healdsburg.
While in college, Lassa Skinner helped to open a gourmet market in Boston, where she was trained by a French cheesemaker. The passion hit her after her first taste of raw milk, aged goat cheese! With a culinary degree she worked in several Boston restaurants and became a cheesemonger at Formaggio Kitchen. Referred to as the Queen of Cheese, Lassa is currently the General Manager at Napa’s Oxbow Cheese Merchant and the retail director of the cheese magazine culture: the word on cheese. She is also the co-author of Cheese For Dummies.
Naomi Smith grew up in the Willamette Valley and worked at South Park, an influential restaurant in Portland is where Naomi discovered that she was most interested in the wine program. She moved to Seattle to work for Noble Wines. It was during this time that her love for cheese sparked the collaboration with DeLaurenti to create the Seattle Cheese Festival. With the success of the Cheese Festival, Naomi brought that experience to building the Artisan Food Festival, an event that focuses on Pacific Northwest producers. Eventually, Naomi left Seattle for San Francisco and Maisons Marques & Domaines, the prestigious wine importer that brings Louis Roederer Champagnes to the United States.
Mark Stark‘s passion for cooking began in college when he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, but knew he enjoyed people and parties. He graduated as the co-valedictorian from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. He moved to California and in 2002, him and his wife Terry opened Willie’s Wine Bar, which would be their first many culinary ventures. Now, Stark’s Reality Restaurants own 5 more: Bravas Bare De Tapas, Stark’s Steakhouse, Willie’s Seafood & Raw Bar, Monti’s Rotisserie & Bar and Stark & Co. Catering.
Stephanie Stiavetti is a freelance food writer, recipe developer, and multimedia producer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared on KQED, NPR, the Huffington Post, and a host of other outlets. Stephanie can be found most regularly on her food blog, The Culinary Life, where she explores the boundless world of flavor and texture. She has also co-authored a cookbook with Garrett McCord, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, which is due out in fall 2013.
Ellen Sutton arrived in the Napa Valley in late 2008 from Ohio, where she was Operations Manager and Beverage Buyer for a fine dining restaurant. Her goal was to immerse herself in the wine industry, which she did immediately by managing a wine bar in downtown Napa: the Oxbow Wine and Cheese Merchant. Alongside her work, she became a Level II Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers as well as a keen wine and cheese pairing professional. In July 2011, Ellen took on a new venture to set up and operate the new tap room for Napa Smith Brewery in south Napa, and she is currently working toward a Level II Certified Cicerone through the Certified Cicerone Program. She is one of the few people who are doubly certified and comfortable pairing cheese with both wine and beer.
Laura Werlin is positively passionate about cheese and has written six highly acclaimed books on the subject which include The New American Cheese, The All American Cheese and Wine Book, Great Grilled Cheese, Laura Werlin’s Cheese Essentials, Grilled Cheese, Please! and her newest, Mac & Cheese, Please! Her passion and expertise on these topics have landed her on The CBS Early Show, the Television Food Network, Martha Stewart Living Television, and numerous local television and radio segments from coast to coast.