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Christopher Kostow

The 2013 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef in the West, 36-year-old Christopher Kostow, of St. Helena’s Restaurant at Meadowood, is also chef to the stars…critical stars, that is. Having garnered two stars from the prestigious Michelin organization when he was executive chef at the French-inspired Chez TJ, in Mountain View, California, Kostow won a third star at Meadowood, for the food he calls “evocative, not provocative.” The San Francisco Chronicle upped the ante in 2010: they gave him four.

The Chicago native studied philosophy in college, and his love of deep thinking extends to his cooking, where what the seasonal market (and the on-premise gardens) offer up is always the starting point. He then crafts individualized menus for guests—with dishes like goat poached in vadouvan (a curry-like spice blend), with dates, yogurt, and black lime; and slow-roasted sturgeon with poached bone marrow, crispy Brussels sprouts, and compressed apple. With these, Kostow says, he hopes to evoke “shared food memories” and create new experiences. He collects many of his recipes in his first cookbook, A New Napa Cuisine (published in October 2014).

His own launch in the kitchen was with chef Trey Foshee, in La Jolla’s Georges’s at the Cove. And then to France, in 2001, where from a Paris bistro he worked his way south, to Michelin-starred Le Jardin des Sens, in Montpellier. Returning to California, his tutelage continued under chef David Patterson at restaurant Elisabeth Daniel, and Daniel Humm at Campton Place, where pristine ingredients, masterful technique, and a joy in experimentation proved infectious to the young chef.

It’s not all serious eats, though. Kostow infuses his sophisticated food philosophy with humor. When Food & Wine magazine selected him as one of their Best New Chefs in 2009, and asked him what his fantasy restaurant would be, he shot straight: “An old-school Jewish deli with local, house-made ingredients. “I’d stage at Katz’s in New York City for a few months.” No wonder he was thrilled to work with his Moveable Feast mates, the duo behind Wise Sons Deli.

  • Moveable Feast

    Scribe Winery, Sonoma, CA (110)

    Pete Evans travels to California's wine country where he plans a feast with chefs Christopher Kostow and the duo known as the Wise Sons, Leo Beckerman and Evan Bloom.

  • Moveable Feast

    Breakfast Casserole

    Lightly sweet, egg-rich challah makes this creamy egg casserole even more full-flavored. Baking it in a hot-water bath allows it to cook gently and retain its moistness. The recipe, adapted…