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Best Chefs Heating Up The Culinary Scene In North Bay

The North Bay has cemented its place as a purveyor of fine foods and wine. It is home to fine restaurants like Redd, Bottega, Terra Restaurant and world-famous French Laundry. While the chefs behind those restaurants have been significant in defining the area's culinary profile, here is the new class of chefs that are heating up the North Bay food scene.
Steven Snook
(credit: Kenwood Inn)

Steven Snook
Kenwood Inn and Spa
10400 Sonoma Highway
Kenwood, CA 95452
(800) 353-6966

Steven Snook took the executive chef post at the award-winning, guest-only restaurant at Kenwood Inn and Spa in Sonoma Valley earlier this year. His cuisine is characterized as rustic Italian and made from locally-sourced ingredients as well as produce, fruits and herbs grown on the property. The menu features dishes like the cauliflower soup with white anchovies, pine nuts, raisins and flat-leaf parsley and la pizza focaccia with caramelized onion flatbread, spiced walnuts, cambozola cheese, crème fraîche and roasted garlic. Before joining Kenwood, Snook spent six years under the tutelage of television personality and Michelin-starred chef Gordon Ramsay. During that time, he worked at Claridge's and later as the sous chef at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London, "the group's flagship location and longest-standing, three-Michelin-star restaurant in London," and Maze at the London in New York City. In 2004, he placed third out of 1,700 participants from across the U.K. in the Young Chef of the Year competition.


Louis Maldonado
219 Healdsburg Ave
Healdsburg, CA 95448
(707) 433-7222

Chef Louis Maldonado's star has been steadily on the rise for the past couple of years. Recently, he was named Spoonbar's executive chef at the eco-friendly h2hotel in Healdsburg. Since taking over the reigns, he has introduced a contemporary American menu that offers bold flavors and highlights seasonal, local ingredients. Some of the standout dishes are the spaghettini with bottarga, garlic oil and breadcrumbs and the short ribs with quinoa, mint, red jalapeno, orange and mushrooms. Previously, he was the chef de cuisine at the Michelin-star Moroccan restaurant, Aziza, in San Francisco. His forthcoming project is Pizzando, a wood-fired pizzeria that is setting up shop at the former Café Newsstand space on the corner of Healdsburg and Matheson. Maldonado will be designing the menu and overseeing day-to-day operations.

Related: Best Buffets In North Bay

perry hoffman

Perry Hoffman
1 California Drive
Yountville, CA 94599
(888) 242-6366

Chef Perry Hoffman has captured more than his fair share of attention after being named the youngest American chef awarded a Michelin star for his work at étoile Restaurant at age 25 in 2010. Since then, the restaurant, which is located on the grounds of Domain Chandon, has maintained its one-Michelin-star rating for three consecutive years (2010-2012). Hoffman creates wine-inspired dishes that embrace seasonal ingredients from the gardens on the 300-acre estate. The menu changes seasonally and features dishes like sea urchin fettuccine with heirloom radishes, kumquats, foraged greens and fennel and roasted veal tenderloin and lobster with endive, sweetbread roulade, turnip and yellowfoot mushrooms. Hoffman was practically destined for culinary greatness with a pedigree that extends to his grandparents, Sally and Don Schmitt, who were the original owners of The French Laundry in Yountville. Previously, Hoffman held positions at Boonville Hotel, Santé Restaurant at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Auberge du Soleil, which he helped to achieve its first Michelin-star rating.

preston clark

Preston Clark
El Paseo
17 Throckmorton Ave
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(415) 388-0741

In 2011, Preston Clark joined El Paseo, whose famous backers include Tyler Florence and Sammy Hagar, as the executive chef. At this rustic chophouse, Clark offers fine cuts of steak like the bacon-wrapped, black angus filet mignon with roasted shallots, truffle butter and thyme or the creek stone tomahawk ribeye with roasted whole garlic, maître d' butter, California sea salt and thyme with creamy horseradish, béarnaise and au poivre sauce. He also offers classic American sides like creamed spinach, whipped potatoes and mac and cheese. Before making the move to Mill Valley to take the reigns at El Paseo, Clark was the sous chef at Jean-Georges' JoJo and before that he was the line chef at Jean-Georges Restaurant. He also comes from a string of chefs with both his grandfather and father having worked in the business. In 2012, Clark was named Rising Star Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation.


Lena Kwak
R&D Chef of the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group and Co-Founder of C4C
6640 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599
(707) 944-2380

Chef Lena Kwak is the research and development chef at the celebrated French Laundry. In her role, she tests unique creations like foie gras bon bons and healthy substitutions. Her claim to fame and basis for her other venture, Cup for Cup (C4C), is her creation of gluten-free brioche. In 2010, in partnership with Thomas Keller, she launched C4C which is committed to providing healthy alternative cooking products like the proprietary gluten-free flour blend she developed. Before landing in California, Kwak went to Johnson & Wales Culinary Institute in Rhode Island. After graduating, she served as a private chef and director of her own catering company.

Related: Best Farmers Markets In North Bay

Jenna Broughton can frequently be found exploring the streets of San Francisco looking for her next adventure and gastronomic delight. She has traveled far and wide, from Paris to Savannah, GA, to satisfy her adventurous palate. Her work can be found at

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