The reasons for travel are many, I adore combining a hotel or villa stay with a fine dining experience. The Ojai Valley Inn recently completed a Farmhouse event space on their rambling property which is utilized to host elegant pop up dinners with famed chefs. Last week I attended my first and I hope just the beginning of many more events at The Farmhouse. The stunning event space, designed by famed architect Howard Backen of Backen Gillam Kroeger in Napa Valley encompasses an expansive 20,000 square foot culinary and event center, connecting world-class food culture with indoor/outdoor functions. The space is amazing, an indoor /outdoor experience – see previous post for full description of events.
In an exclusive dinner wine tasting experience Neal Fraser, chef and owner of critically acclaimed Los Angeles restaurants Redbird, Vibiana, and Fritzi Coop mingled with guests and served a tantalizing dinner. A culinary journey inspired by his renowned style of cuisine with a family-style dinner paired with wines from Heitz Cellars. Chef Fraser touts an impressive resume that includes a degree from the Culinary Institute of America and an honor roll of kitchen credits such as Wolfgang Puck’s Eureka and Spago, Checkers Hotel under Thomas Keller, Joachim Splichal’s Pinot Bistro, Hans Rockenwagner’s Rox, and the highly revered Boxer.
The cocktail hour began beneath the immense Oak trees, so indicative of the Ojai Valley Inn property, with passed appetizers and a Redbird-inspired cocktail bar by Bar Director Tobin Shea. Mingling with the guests were the Inn’s Director of Operations Ben Kephart and Master Sommelier, Carlton McCoy, the President and CEO of Napa Valley’s famed Heitz Cellars, and former wine director of Aspen’s The Little Nell. McCoy, 34, was one of the youngest candidates ever to achieve Master Sommelier status in 2013 and is one of only two African American master sommeliers. Although we moved inside the spectacular Farmhouse for the seated dinner, the massive glass doors on each end of the soaring space revealed the evening sunset and the warm evening breeze. Chef Neal Fraser and Chef de Cuisine Jason Bowlin announced the menu for the family-style dinner as wait staff served generous platters of each course. The scrumptious wine pairings by Heitz’ Carlton McCoy, included the very collectible Cabernet Sauvignon Martha’s Vineyard.
We were thrilled to have Chef Fraser sit with us post dinner, staff delivered a small craft bottle of Russell’ Reserve Single Barrel Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey and we toasted his success. If you are interested in having Chef come to your home, I have his personal contact info. One meal he would particularly love to curate is a hunt dinner – if you have a Ranch and hunt boar, he’s interested in preparing a full-blown feast!
Foodies, golfers, sun seekers will all enjoy an experience at The Ojai Valley Inn and The Farmhouse, earlier post lists all the upcoming events which include cooking classes and famed chef dinners.