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Katianna Hong

Chef Katianna Hong tends the hearth, literally, at The Charter Oak, in St. Helena, roasting kohlrabi and beets in the embers. On her massive grill she may have buttermilk brined chicken cooking with grape leaves or a local rockfish charring up nicely with some spring pea tendrils. Hong, who was chosen as one of Food and Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs of 2018, has a way with live fire.

Having worked her way up over five years from line cook to chef de cuisine at Christopher Kostow’s Michelin-starred Meadowood, and after being picked as 2015’s Rising Star Chef by San Francisco Magazine, Hong was picked for the top spot when Kostow decided to open a less formal restaurant nearby.

The same desire and drive for excellence that she expressed as a teen gymnast growing up in Clifton Park, New York, also expressed itself in her studies at the Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, and in the intense world of restaurant kitchens that followed. She did stints at Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s B&B Ristorante, in Las Vegas, before a move to Santa Monica, to cook with Chef Josiah Citrin at Michelin two-star Melisse.

Another big influence for Hong has been her travels, especially to South Korea—she was born there but left for the U.S. when she was too young to get to know it. Now her desire to taste the world has taken her home, in a sense, and her cooking becomes more exciting with each step she takes.

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