Napa Valley’s Michelin Starred Kenzo Restaurant

Napa Valley’s Michelin Starred Kenzo Restaurant

“Experience the True Essence of Excellence in Japanese Cuisine”

Kenzo Restaurant in downtown Napa in the old location of Pearl has been open for just over a year and after earning its first Michelin star has already gained major accolades in the culinary world and the Napa Valley dining scene.

Kenzo and Natsuko Tsujimoto, owners and creators of the spectacular Kenzo Estate, had a vision of creating an authentic, elegant Japanese dining experience in the Napa Valley. This charming power couple is not new to the restaurant world, as they have developed a dedicated following in their home country of Japan with four stunning Kenzo Estate Restaurants and tasting rooms. These successful Kenzo-centric establishments bring avid followers in for their stunning cuisine and Kenzo Estate wines. Upon opening their anticipated Napa location just over a year ago, they have created the ultimate dining experience with their prix fixe menu importing the finest of fresh seafood flown in daily from the most acclaimed fish market in Japan. It is their mission to transform the perception of Japanese cuisine.

Kenzo Restaurant’s intimate atmosphere, situated in a private Zen-like setting, offers a global experience of innovative and unique Japanese cuisine inspired by Michelin Star Chef Eiji Onoyama and Kenzo’s brilliant team of award-winning chefs out of Japan. Kenzo’s inventive seasonal menus fuse Japanese tradition with his innovative, creative techniques and stunning presentations. Each and every course paired with one of the Kenzo Estate wines and premium sakes whisks diners on a culinary journey through Japan.

The intimate 27-seat restaurant offers ten tables and a sushi bar each providing dining guests exquisite presentations in the sophisticated Kaiseki traditional multi-course Japanese dinner.   Sometimes compared to French haute cuisine, Kaiseki also refers to the collection of skills and techniques that allow the preparation of the various courses in the meal and in some cases creating as many as 12 or more courses. Kenzo Restaurant has taken their “contemporary Kaiseki” to an elevated dining experience.

Having the opportunity to dine at the sushi bar offers a hands-on visual expose of the incredible preparations by the Kenzo master chefs at the helm. The sushi bar recreates the ambiance of a high-end sushi restaurant in Japan offering guests an expedition where they can visit a true Japan without a passport.

A sampling of their delightful dining offerings include:

  • Pacific Dungeness Crab Chawanmushishizouka wasabi
  • Rice Cracker Crusted Aomori Sawara Mackerel
  • Ehime Amberjack Sashimi
  • Straw Smoked Chiba Golden Eye SnapperOwan
  • Spotted Prawn and Hokkaido Salmon Roe
  • Satsuma Wagyu Tenderloin Kuwayaki with Kenzo Estate “Rindo” Reduction
  • Matcha green tea pudding and sweet adzuki beans
  • Warabimochi bracken starch dumpling with sweet soybean powder and brown sugar syrup

Kenzo owners – Kenzo and Natsuko Tsujimoto and their talented team of chefs have proudly introduced traditional Japanese cuisine “Kaiseki” to the Napa Valley! Congratulations on your Michelin Star honor in your first year!


The Acacia House at Las Alcobas

The Acacia House at Las Alcobas

The Acacia House at Las Alcobas

Chef Chris Cosentino, co-owner of San Francisco’s trendy Cockscomb restaurant welcomes his newest addition, the Acacia House, to his restaurant group along with business partner, Oliver Wharton. This inspired new dining establishment is located on the spectacular grounds of Napa Valley’s newest Luxury Collection Hotel Las Alcobas in Saint Helena embraced by lush vineyard views. In contrast to the stunning contemporary surrounds of this exquisite boutique hotel, the Acacia House is perched on a grand hill showcased majestically a stately Victorian Mansion. The “Acacia House” was the first given name of this historic Georgian inspired estate originally built in 1907.

Dining Room at the Acacia House

Cosentino and Wharton’s restaurant group, Delicious MFG & CO also includes Jackrabbit in Portland, Oregon which also recently opened to much acclaim by Cosentino’s culinary following.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Las Alcobas brand where personalized service, discreetly modernized design and intimate ambiance are key ingredients of the experience. Our mutual styles bridge the classical decadence of the region and the progressive, diverse flavors diners crave from a restaurant that is as exacting as it is exciting.” As Cosentino and Wharton enthusiastically stated.

This dynamic restaurant duo devotes their energy to their restaurants with similar philosophies in branding Cosentino’s innovative style of cuisine offering familiar dishes with a refreshing twist of refinement. The Acacia House menu is directly influenced by the grape varietals of the Napa Valley’s original countries of France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Germany infusing the unique flavors of their regions into the dishes created at the restaurant.

Acacia House Hamachi

The Acacia House also offers a selection of well-balanced cocktails as a complement to the restaurant’s dining offerings. You will find timeless classics like the Italian inspired Negroni or seasonally infused Bellinis or their own not-so traditional Bloody Mary, and a crowd-pleaser from the Las Alcobas flagship property in Mexico City, is the signature, Margarita.

Many of the wines off of their extensive wine list of Napa Valley varietals present entertaining historical vignettes on the vineyard proprietors of these showcased vintages. Here is one of them, Farella 2001 Coombsville, Merlot:

Frank and Tom Farella panted the first Merlot of Coombsville in 1985. A unique horseshoe valley with close-proximity to the bay and the base of Mt. George creates this cooler microclimate. Coombsville is the newest recognized AVA in Napa Valley. The Merlot produced here is a graceful Bordeaux style.”

Menu highlights include:

  • Burrata: apricots, almond chili, and lemon verbena
  • Lobster Submarine: pancetta, avocado, sundried tomato jam, arugula, lobster roe aioli, and torpedo roll
  • Klingeman Farms Park Schnitzel: snap peas, caviar ranch dressing
  • Lavender Cornish Game Hen: sugar squash, grilled squash blossoms, and lemon thyme vinaigrette

Acacia House Schnitzel

The Acacia House is open 7 days per week. Breakfast 7am to 10am; Lunch 11:30a to 3pm and Dinner 5-10p

1915 Main Street, St. Helena





Summer Mule

Summer Mule


Summer Mule by Kenny Belgard and Parker James
Rate this recipe
78 ratings

Category: Recipes

Summer Mule by Kenny Belgard and Parker James

Summer Mule


  • (created by Kenny Belgard and Parker James, students from The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone’s Wine and Beverage program)
  • • 2 parts ginger beer
  • • 1 part Hangar 1 Rosé Vodka
  • • 1 part Rosé wine
  • • Mint for muddling
  • • .25 parts lime juice (We had our limes pre-juiced because of time, but it would be better if fresh limes were used. Use 1/4 lime per drink)
  • • .25 parts Perfect Puree: Red Raspberry (local Napa product – may not need .25 parts – we did to taste)
  • • Garnish with raspberry halve and lime segment
  • Muddle the lime and mint together. Strain the mint/lime juice mixture into a mixing glass. Add vodka, rose, and raspberry puree. Mix. Pour into iced glass and top with ginger beer. Mix again and garnish. 


Follow instructions, drink and enjoy!

The Great Rose Pairing at CIA Copia

The Great Rose Pairing at CIA Copia

Experience Rose at CIA – Copia


Summer wine and food events are abundant around the Napa Valley during the summer months. One of the more unique and refreshing events which took place at the CIA at Copia this summer was The Great Rosé Pairing held this summer at CIA at Copia. Rosé and other pink wines have accelerated in popularity over the past several years with many wineries adding a Rosé style to their wine portfolios. Pink Wines from all over the US and the globe were represented at this lively, colorful event.

Experience Rosé: The Competition Director, Debra Del Fiorentino, describes the growing passion for Rosé: “Right now, we are in what I call “The Rosé Revolution” here in the US. We’ve finally learned what Italy and France have known for ages and we’re jumping on the Rosé bandwagon. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the outcome of this year’s event. This competition had all the right elements in play and took off at an astronomical pace in terms of entries and interests. The timing was just right.”

Rosé is a type of wine that extrapolates its pink color from limited contact with grape skins and is one of the oldest known types of wine. The pink color can range from a pale “onion-skin” orange to a vivid near-purple, depending on the varietals used and winemaking techniques. There are three major ways to produce rosé wine: skin contact, saignée, and blending. Rosé wines can be made still, semi-sparkling or sparkling and with a wide range of sweetness levels from highly dry Provençal rosé to sweet White Zinfandels and blushes. Rosé wines are made from many different grape varietals and can be found all around the globe, as was represented at the event at The Great Rosé Pairing event.

The event in its fifth year, formerly known as Rosé Today also showcased paired tasty bites created by various teams of CIA student chefs, offering cuisine from six major Rosé producing regions: France, Spain, Italy, as well as Northern, Central and Southern California.

The Six Culinary teams from around the region and the world participated in the paired cuisine:

  1. Team Spain – Pulpo de Maria alla Coggiola
  2. Team Italy – Pesce Marinato and Negroni Macaron
  3. Team France – Ratatouille and Lemon Mascarpone French Crêpes
  4. Team Northern California – Mt. St. Tomato (Sundried tomato crackers with Humboldt Fog and Ricotta mousse topped with jellied consommé cube and a sundried basil and chili infused olive oil snow)
  5. Team Southern California – Southern California Fusion Fish Tacos
  6. Team Central California – Burrata with Nectarine Compote on a Garlic Rubbed Crostini and Burnt Honey and Tarragon Ricotta on a Lemon Herb Cracker and Nectarine Compote

The winning culinary team: Team Spain with “Pulpo de Maria alla Coggiola”

The rosé cocktails and refreshers that were prepared featured the Hangar 1 Rosé Vodka:

  1. Team 1:  Spritzer — Stop and Smell Rosé / Cocktail — Peach of My Heart
  2. Team 2:  Spritzer — The Golden State / Cocktail — Summer Mule

Winning Refresher:  Stop and Smell the Rosé (Team #1)

Winning Cocktail:  Summer Mule (Team #2)

The Great Rose Pairing offered 25 wineries pouring their Rose varietals during the event at CIA at Copia, including:

  • DRAXTON WINES, 2017 Draxton Pinot Meunier (Best in Show) 
  • LAZY CREEK VINEYARDS, 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir (Double Gold)
  • SIMPLE LIFE, 2017 Rosé (Double Gold)
  • DOMAINE LAURIER, NV Brut Rosé (Gold, Best of Class)
  • FLEUR DE MER, 2017 Cotes de Provence Rosé (Gold, Best of Class)
  • NICHELINI FAMILY WINERY, 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé (Gold, Best of Class)
  • Alexander Valley Vineyards, 2017 Dry Rosé of Sangiovese (Gold)
  • Blue Sky Vineyard, 2017 Rosé (Gold)
  • Domaine Anderson, 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir (Gold)
  • Ferrari-Carano 2017 Dry Rosé of Sangiovese (Gold)
  • Fillmore West Vineyards, 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir (Gold)
  • Galena Cellars Vineyard and Winery, NV Chambourcin Rosé (Gold)
  • Handley Cellars, 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé (Gold)
  • Illinois Sparkling Co., 2016 Brut Rosé de Saignée (Gold)
  • J Vineyards, NV Brut Rosé (Gold)
  • Kokomo, 2017 Grenache Rosé (Gold)
  • Le Grand Courtage, NV Brut Rosé (Gold)
  • Marilyn Wines, 2017 Marilyn Monroe Rosé (Gold)
  • Mathis Wine, 2017 Rosé de Grenache (Gold)
  • Moshin Vineyards, 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir (Gold)
  • Muscardini Cellars, 2017 Rosato de Sangiovese (Gold)
  • Red Car, 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir (Gold)
  • Twelve Oaks Vineyard (Gold)
  • Wilson of Dry Creek, 2017 Dorothy’s Rosé (Gold)

Below is the recipe for the winning cocktail of the day (voted on by attendees) – the Summer Mule. It featured the Hangar 1 Rosé Vodka.


(created by Kenny Belgard and Parker James, students from The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone’s Wine and Beverage program)

  • 2 parts ginger beer
  • 1 part Hangar 1 Rosé Vodka
  • 1 part Rosé wine
  • Mint for muddling
  • .25 parts lime juice (We had our limes pre-juiced because of time, but it would be better if fresh limes were used. Use 1/4 lime per drink)
  • .25 parts Perfect PureeRed Raspberry (local Napa product – may not need .25 parts – we did to taste)
  • Garnish with raspberry halve and lime segment

Muddle the lime and mint together. Strain the mint/lime juice mixture into a mixing glass. Add vodka, rose, and raspberry puree. Mix. Pour into iced glass and top with ginger beer. Mix again and garnish.



Wine Country Holiday Gift Ideas

Wine Country Holiday Gift Ideas

Unique Holiday Gift Ideas Created in the Napa Valley

Go Anywhere with GoVino

By Dynie Sanderson

Here are a few really special Holiday gift ideas to take away with you from the Wine Country. Whether it is a gift for under the tree or a gift for a special occasion or gift to yourself, these will surely put a smile on your face. As a matter of fact, these gifts will pair perfect with the wines you bought on your last trip to Napa Valley.

Wouldn’t it be fun to pack up that case of the wine you just bought in Napa and put it in a suitcase custom-made to take your most special vintages with you to your next travel destination or to have a glass when you get home and not wait for a shipment? Absolutely! It used to be that you could travel with a 6-pack carry on as a souvenir from your visit. Though that luxury is long gone, the good news is you can still take it with you!

FlyWithWine is the ultimate wine travel suitcase which was designed exclusively for safely transporting wine. Put your favorite vintages comfortably in this indestructible check-in bag and pick it up with confidence at baggage claim knowing your 2005 Estate Cab is safely intact. And fully loaded with a case of wine it still weighs less than 50 pounds. You can also customize your wine luggage too, as they have a variety of inserts for fit your various bottle sizes and even your special Riedel Wine Glasses.

Though if you want to use all of the space in your customized suitcase for wine, there is an option. Grab a box of your favorite GoVino shatter proof drinkware and put it in your backpack or carry-on and you will be ready-set-go to enjoy a glass or two of the one of your Napa Valley wines as soon as you land in your next destination. These innovative sommelier-approved wine glasses can go with you anywhere and were established in the Napa Valley in 2008 by Joseph T. Perulli.

Go Vino Picnic

The GoVino glasses have quickly been adopted by some of the world’s most renowned wine estates and it is the first shatterproof wine glass of its kind to be accepted by the industry. GoVino offers design driven glassware options for wine, beer, champagne and cocktails and they even have a decanter as well. These are perfect when proper stemware isn’t available or in settings where breakable glass in prohibited. May your Holidays be Smashing … Not Your Glassware!

You just packed your FlyWithWine suitcase with a selection of wines from Hestan Vineyards and while there, you had the opportunity to go to The Hestan Barn for an amazing cooking demonstration by Hestan Chef Philip Tessier. He was using an amazing line of cookware, the Nanobond. Hestan just debuted the Hestan Cue: A Connected, Smart Cooking System which redefines the home kitchen. What an amazing culinary innovation. Now that you have Chef Philip’s new book “Chasing Bocuse – America’s Journey to the Culinary World Stage”, The Hestan Cue is a must have in your kitchen.

Hestan Cue is a video-guided cooking system that automatically controls temperature and time, every step of the recipe. Their smart cookware, induction burner and recipe app all communicate with each other using Bluetooth technology and embedded sensors – automatically adjusting the cooking temperature and time as you proceed through each recipe. Cue doesn’t cook it for you – it helps you cook better food, more often. And the best part…you are learning to cook beautiful meals from chefs like Philip Tessier.

The Hestan Cue Team includes acclaimed chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants, pioneering software developers and meticulous designers dedicated to tirelessly reinventing the cooking experience.

You can find the Hestan Cue at William Sonoma and Amazon or at








Napa Valley’s Michelin SuperStars

Napa Valley’s Michelin SuperStars

The Napa Valley renowned for its many acclaimed Robert Parker award-winning wines has also made an enormous impact over the years in the culinary arena with 6 acclaimed restaurants being the recipients of the coveted Michelin Star awards for 2018. Of the 55 star awardees in the Bay area, five superstar chefs and their teams have choreographed gastronomic sensations worthy of being presented with their own prestigious Michelin Stars!

Michelin has a 3-star point scale in which they judge and award by. Three Stars in Michelin vernacular means “exceptional cuisine, worth a special trip.” Two Stars indicates “excellent cooking; worth a detour” and One Star signifies “a very good restaurant in its own category”.

It all started at the turn of the century, when the Michelin brothers André and Edouard, decided to start a guide for car owners in France, to help promote their Michelin Tire company by sharing names and locations of petrol stations, garage and tire mechanics as well as hotels and restaurants. The first published edition of the guide produced 35,000 copies and was distributed free. As a result of the guide’s popularity, they launched internationally, first in Belgium in 1904 and in Britain in 1911.

Michelin’s notoriety grew expeditiously, and by 1920 their dining section was so popular, they began to appoint anonymous inspectors to visit hotels and restaurants to grade them. The star system was introduced in 1926, and the blue cover of the guides was changed to their symbolic deep red as it is with today’s distinguished Michelin Guides. Even today the inspectors remain duty bound and maintain the secrecy of their identity.

In 1955 Michelin guides added a second category called the “Bib Gourmand” which are also designated by Michelin’s food inspectors annually. To be included in this list, restaurants are required to serve quality cuisine with two courses and provide wine or dessert for a maximum price of $40. Bib Gourmand recipients include only restaurants offering “excellent food at a reasonable price.”

Of the 67 Bay Area “Bib Gourmand” awardees, 6 Napa Valley restaurants earned a Michelin nod of approval! Cook St. Helena, Two Birds/One Stone, Farmstead, Grace’s Table, Oenotri, and Redd Wood.

Auberge du Soleil – Michelin Rating: One Star

Chef – Robert Curry – Chef Curry has been executive chef at Auberge du Soleil since 2005 and has been instrumental in bringing them a dozen stars over the years 2006-2018. Curry has a passion and an inherent talent for his wine country cuisine creations on his stunning ever-changing menus with ingredients harvested daily from the restaurants organic garden. Before joining Auberge du Soleil, Curry was executive chef at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena. He began his career in Los Angeles at Wolfgang Puck’s cooking school, Ma Cuisine. He has also worked with Michel Richard and Alain Giraud of Citrus and Alain Ducasse at his 3-star Louis XV at Hotel de Paris.

View From Restaurant Auberge du Soleil

What’s it all about: Restaurateur and Culinary Legacy Claude Rouas’ restaurant was founded 35 years ago as Napa Valley’s first fine dining restaurant offering Mediterranean inspired cuisines. The restaurant and hotel “Inn of the Sun” are nestled within the 33-acre olive grove that showcases the property. The views and dining experience from their hillside perch in Rutherford overlooking the majestic Napa Valley is beyond extraordinary. The restaurants inspired cuisine created by Chef Curry has been awarded 12 consecutive Michelin Stars.

Chef Robert Curry Auberge du Soleil

What the Michelin Inspectors say: “This is one of the first restaurants to elevate the Napa Valley to greatness. For the past decade, Chef Robert Curry has been ensuring its legacy with cooking that is the very definition of California cuisine: global flavors expressed through local, seasonal, and fresh ingredients. The kitchen’s work is as impressive as the setting. Everything seems just a bit more beautiful from this extraordinary perch, overlooking the vineyards, mountains, and gardens.”

The French Laundry – Michelin Rating: Three Stars

Chef – Thomas Keller – Chef Keller is one of most renowned Michelin star chefs and is the first and only American born chefs to hold multiple Michelin 3 Star ratings for a total of 7 Stars – Three at Per Se in New York, Three at The French Laundry and one at Bouchon. In the past decade, Keller has received countless culinary accolades and awards including the James Beard Foundation’s “Outstanding Chef” and “Outstanding Restaurateur” and the Culinary Institute of America’s “Chef of the Year.”

French Laundry Renovation

What’s it all about: Thomas Keller’s flagship restaurant has been the fine dining Napa Valley go-to for over two decades. In 1992, he discovered the old French steam laundry in Yountville taking almost 2 years converting it and finally opened its doors in 1994 to instant acclaim. The French Laundry recently celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2014, which is something that few restaurants can be applauded for. Chef Keller began his culinary career at a very young age when he worked at the Palm Beach restaurant which his mother managed. It has been a non-stop success story ever since. His impact in the culinary world has placed him as one of the most influential and decorated chefs in the world.

French Laundry

What the Michelin Inspectors say: “Chef Keller continues to pair incredibly classic French techniques with wildly fresh ingredients in a setting that is a perfect storm of restaurant greatness—we should all be so lucky to score a reservation here in our lifetime. Choose from two seasonal tasting menus, including a vegetarian option. Both feature products from boutique purveyors. Dinners may highlight signature oysters paired with white sturgeon caviar in a warm sabayon studded with tapioca pearls or golden striped bass with deconstructed deviled eggs.”

The Restaurant at Meadowood – Michelin Rating: Three Stars

Chef Christopher Kostow

Chef – Christopher Kostow –  Chef Kostow, one of the youngest Michelin Star Chefs, received his first honors before the age of 30. He began cooking at the Restaurant at Meadowood in 2008 and in his second year at the helm, they were awarded Two Michelin Stars. Only one year later he took the honors to the next echelon bringing the restaurant highest honor of 3 stars, making Kostow one of the youngest chefs to achieve the award. He is the second American born chef and the third youngest chef ever to receive three Michelin Stars. He has retained the accolade since.

The Restaurant at Meadowood

What’s it all about: Chef Kostow’s modern American restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena has proven a positive culinary impact in Napa Valley’s epicurean mecca. This luxurious retreat presents this acclaimed inviting modern American restaurant to great applause. “We strive for seriousness, and for permanence in our cooking. Our food is what we give of ourselves. It is at once our daily efforts and their culmination.” The dining room is adorned in sophisticated barnlike rustic luxury which allures you with their subtle elegance. Kostow’s presentations are works of culinary art and are certainly worthy of their coveted Michelin 3 Stars.

Meadowood Chef Christopher Kostow

What the Michelin Inspectors say: “Everything here exudes California-style wealth and comfort, from those cottages dotting the Napa hills to the front lounge’s stone fireplace and shelves lined with Chef Kostow’s debut cookbook. Beyond this, the dining room is a sophisticated barn of sorts, decked in polished stone tables, wood columns, and rural splendor. This all makes for an elegant backdrop for romantic evenings or family celebrations, as long as everyone is willing to splurge. Servers are impeccable, professional, and know how to keep their guests happy and at ease. The cooking never ceases to better itself through innovation and purity.”

Bouchon – Michelin rating: One Star

French Laundry Thomas Keller

Chef – Thomas Keller – Bouchon is one of 3 restaurants that Keller operates in the Napa Valley. A fourth will be opening in Yountville in late summer early fall and will be high-end Mexican style cuisine right at the fork in the center of town. Keller has undoubtedly put his stake in the ground in Yountville and his stake in the international culinary arena. There are now many outposts of Bouchon, including in New York, Las Vegas, Beverly Hills and Miami opening this summer.

What’s it all about: Keller’s, second Yountville restaurant Bouchon, debuted in 1998 and then 5 years later followed with the opening of the adjacent ever popular Bouchon Bakery. Thomas Keller’s more relaxed French bistro features a seasonal menu, a raw bar, and bakery next door. Just steps down the street from his acclaimed French Laundry, Keller’s lively French Bistro is the mirror of a Parisian bistro. The crowd is always lively in this vibrant, festive atmosphere and the bar is always full. The menu is full of the classics of timeless French food and is about as close to France as you will get in Napa. There are so many options on the menu that you will want to try it all. Oysters, Fois Gras, French Onion Soup, Steak Frites. Don’t miss out on the desserts though. The Chocolate Bouchon and Crème Brulee are worth the visit alone.

What the Michelin Inspectors say: “A theatrical crowd uplifts the space with conviviality, and every lavish banquette or stool at the bustling bar is full. Always. Thanks to the house bakery next door, the bread here is ace, so grab an extra hunk of the supremely fresh and crusty pain d’epi to slather with butter. The menu lists well-executed classics, including a rosy foie gras torchon with seasonal orange preserves and golden-brown toasted brioche. And thanks to the attentive staff, you may even get a second slice.”

La Toque – Michelin rating: One Star

Chef – Ken Frank – While he was a chef at La Guillotine Restaurant at the age of 21 he received his first of many national acclaims in 1977. Chef Ken opened the first La Toque at the age of 23 in 1979 along the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. Nineteen years later with a calling to the Napa Valley, he opened the incarnated La Toque in Rutherford with great success before moving to his current location in Napa at the Westin Verasa in 2008. He likes to call himself a French Chef in a California body. La Toque received their first Michelin Star the very first year Michelin did a Bay Area Guide. Ken voiced that the Michelin Guide is the only book that counts in the restaurant business and the only one that is internationally known. “Getting a star is such a prestigious flag to fly.”

La Toque Restaurant

What’s it all about: The restaurant is a showcase for Chef Frank’s modern French cuisine and his passion for wine. La Toque has been awarded a Michelin Star every year they have been in wine country. In addition to that, they have also been bestowed one of Wine Spectators greatest honors – The Grand Award for their wine list and service excellence and is one of only 91 restaurants in the world to receive this award. Ken Frank takes a serious and thoughtful approach to all of his menu creations and when it comes to Fois Gras and Truffles, he a leader at the helm in that arena. One of the most impressive characteristics about Ken, he is entirely self-taught, and he began his culinary career as a dishwasher in France where his taste for a profession as a chef was ignited.

La Toque Fois Gras

What Michelin says: “You’ll want to tip your own toque in appreciation after a meal at this downtown fine-dining palace in the Westin Verasa Napa, which blends a serious approach to cuisine and service that has just enough cheek to keep things lively. La Toque may display an oversized inflatable chef’s hat hanging above its walkway, but the interior is the soul of modern sophistication, with leather-topped tables, a fireplace, and an extensive wine list—proffered on an iPad.”

Kenzo – Michelin rating: One Star

Kenzo Restaurant Chefs

Chefs – A team of superstars coming in from Japan – Their chefs are comprised of six extremely talented men and women from Japan, who have traveled to the US just to work at Kenzo Napa. These gifted chefs are carefully selected by owners Kenzo and Natsuko Tsujimoto. “Since establishing Kenzo Estate, Kenzo and I dreamt of sharing the unique beauty of Japanese food with visitors to the Napa Valley. To receive Michelin recognitions after just one year of operation was a testament to the amazing team who worked so hard to bring our vision to life, and to the guests from around the world who truly embraced our interpretation of authentic Japanese cuisine and tradition.”

Kenzo and Natsuko Tsujimoto

What’s it all about: Kenzo Estate owners Kenzo and Natsuko Tsujimoto’s elegant Japanese restaurant using ingredients flown in daily from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market along with rotating award-winning celebrity chefs from Japan.

Kenzo Restaurant

What the Michelin Inspectors say: “Though Kenzo offers a handful of tables, the best seats are at the spacious counter, where diners can chat with the chefs and see their sushi made firsthand. Two menus are offered under the guidance of acclaimed chef Eiji Onoyama: one exclusively spotlights elegant kaiseki dishes like sea urchin chawanmushi and poached blue shrimp with asparagus, while the other also integrates a dozen pieces of nigiri, sourced directly from Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji Fish Market.”

There are 55 Restaurants with Michelin Stars in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you would like to learn more about these award-winning eateries or read more food-related articles from around the world visit

As seen in Napa Valley Life Magazine – 2018 Food and Wine Issue