Executive chef Christopher Kostow of the Restaurant at Meadowood hasn't cooked for the Auction Napa Valley since 2008, the year he was hired.
Since then, however, the chef has raised the bar by snagging three Michelin stars for the St. Helena resort, which traditionally hosts Saturday's live auction on its fairway. As head chef for this Saturday dinner, Kostow will land in the heart of the batting order.
“Traditionally, the restaurant lends some support,” he said of the community fundraiser put on by the Napa Valley Vintners Association. “But what's really attractive for me this year is that it's all about the valley.”
Rather than bring in talent from around the country, this year's auction will feature an all-star line-up of local chefs, ranging from pioneers like Thomas Keller and Michael Chiarello to up-and-comers like Kostow and Brandon Sharp of Solbar at Solage Calistoga resort.
For Kostow, who won a 2013 James Beard award for “Best Chef: West,” the past year has been full of new challenges. He not only teamed up with a ceramacist to launch a line of artisanal plates, but he also completed his first cookbook, “A New Napa Cuisine,” due out this fall.
“The book really dovetails with the theme of the auction,” Kostow said. “It details the transformative process of moving to the valley, and our relationships with our growers, our gardens, our artisans and our foragers.”
Rather than look toward Europe, Kostow said the new generation of local chefs is trying to forge “a nascent style of cooking in the Napa Valley.”
“We need to scratch the veneer of what we see, and to embrace the grape-growing but also the agricultural heritage of the place and even the Indian practices,” he said. “It's really digging in deep.”
During the family-style dinner on Saturday night, Kostow and his team will show off a wide range of Napa products, from Rancho Gordo Beans and Bale Grist Mill grains to pork raised in the Carneros and produce grown by Meadowood and Long Meadow Ranch gardeners.