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Napa Restaurateurs Share Their Stories

Highlights from our popular "Front of the House" series about Napa restaurants.

For the past six months, I’ve been writing a column called ".” My editor and I thought it would fun to pull some highlights as a reminder of the incredible selection of cuisine and personalities in Napa restaurants.

New columns, featuring new restaurants, will follow. Let us know if you have suggestions!

Bettina Rouas, Managing Partner, Angele Restaurant and Bar:

“I’d been working in Yountville and further north. I came to ZuZu’s one night and when I felt the energy down here, it made me realize I wanted to be in a restaurant that catered to the locals.”

Greg Cole, Proprietor and Chef, Celadon and Cole’s Chop House:

 "I had ideas and skills, but no money. People thought if you were going to do this kind of restaurant you should be in St. Helena or Yountville. But Napa was affordable. Low-overhead Napa, I used to call it. . . . Not anymore.”

Treg Finney, General Manager, Fish Story:

“I think as chef owner, you can’t just be strong in the kitchen, you have to understand what’s going on out front. I know what the cooks are going through and I know what the waiters are going through.”

“Our menu changes daily based on what we would like to do and what’s acknowledged as safe to eat by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They categorize seafood- whether it’s good to eat, if it has high mercury levels, or was caught by unsustainable fishing practices.”

 Braun Broehl-Phifer, General Manager, Gott’s Roadside :

“From the time they walk in until the time they leave, we educate people on why we serve the foods we do and why we’re so passionate about it. All the beef is vegetarian fed, free range.”

“The owners say they wanted to create college hangover-type food with a twist.”

Laurel Sather, Food and Beverage Manager, Siena Restaurant at the Meritage Resort:

“The guests are from all over the country and all over the world, and what we take for granted, like local Napa fare.”

“We offer a 20% discount to locals.  We want Napa people to come in.”

“The new complex, scheduled to open in 2012, will house a café, coffee shop, sports bar, and six high-end bowling lanes in a plush, lounge-like setting.”

Terry Letson, Chef and Proprietor, Fume Bistro:

“We have a pizza oven fronting the dining room, so there is direct contact with customers. On a busy night that’s where I choose to work. I can see the dining room and watch every plate that leaves my kitchen.”

“We look at our diners in two categories- locals and tourists.  For the locals, the bar is set pretty high because we have so many good restaurants and a lot of the population works in food and wine.”

Pemba Sherpa, Partner and Chef, 

“I didn’t know who Michael Chiarello was- I happened to apply at his restaurant and they hired me. . . I learned how a commercial kitchen worked, from taking orders to getting food to the table. Michael Chiarello called me Nepali Tiger.”

“Our food tastes just like it’s supposed to taste, but the whole dimension of how it looks is different. Some people just slap it on the plate and serve it, without much of a visual effect to it.  We serve butterfish-- it’s amazing. It’s the best thing I’ve ever cooked. Our chickens are free-range.  And I don’t buy vegetables that aren’t in season.”

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