We weren’t given many rules for our charity dinner in Napa. We just had to teach, cook, rollout sheets and sheets of paper-thin, fresh pasta and make sure everyone had a good time… But what kind of menu do you plan for the most discerning taste buds in the country?

The California cook’s conundrum: You want to keep it simple and fresh and “Napa-style,” but you also want to impress the daylights out of your diners (that’s a Southernism, by the way). There was also the matter of pairing each course with Staglin Family Vineyard’s smooth, nurtured terroir, you-only-open-these-bottles-on-your-birthday kind of wines. Jamie was sweatin in his chef’s whites…

Then, we stumbled upon the Staglins’ garden… and the orchard… and the side-yard by the pool… What can’t the Napa soil grow??

And so Jamie turned his cap backwards (a sign he’s feeling creative and gettin down to business) and wrote a beauty of a menu. Hours before the dinner, we picked the persimmons, broccoli, apples, figs & fig leaves and lavendar with our very own hands. And, yes, that does make it taste better!


Fried Polenta Squares with Chicken Liver Mousse & Hazelnuts

Wood-oven Flatbread Trio: Ricotta, Figs & Thyme; Wild Broccoli; ‘Fra-Mani’ Chorizo & Pecorino; Roasted Tomato, Basil & Parmiggiano

First Course

Poached Shrimp w. Creamy Lemon Arugula, Fennel, Apples, Almonds & Adante Dairy Tomme Dulce

Second Course

Roasted Butternut Squash Agnolotti (made by our students!) Brown Butter & Sage

Third Course

Local Coastal Sole Roasted on Fig Leaves w California Vegetable Bourguignon


Lavender-Infused Panna Cotta Staglin Estate Persimmon & Candied Ginger Chutney