Chefs

Since its founding, Napa Valley Festival del Sole has collaborated with partner wineries and event hosts to create culinary events of distinction. Some of the world's finest chefs have participated in Festival del Sole's previous seasons, including Silvia Baracchi, Dan Barber, Elaine Bell, Michael Chiarello, Cat Cora, Gary Danko, Curtis Duffy, Stephen Durfee, Thomas Keller, Ken Frank, Joyce Goldstein, Peter Hall, Abi Martinez, Sarah Scott and Ming Tsai.

2012 was no exception. The chefs who brought their special talents to this year's Festival del Sole included:


Alejandro Ayala

Born into a family of nine children in Mexico, Chef Alejandro Ayala arrived in the United States at the age of 18. After briefly working in the fields picking grapes and pears, Ayala began his career at Meadowood as a dishwasher but quickly moved up the ranks to prep cook, sous chef, and finally, chef.

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Cindy Pawlcyn

Cindy Pawlcyn is well-known as a pioneer of fresh, local, seasonal, sustainable wine-country cuisine. She is the founder/owner of three of Napa Valley’s most beloved restaurants and is Culinary Partner at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. She is also the author of four cookbooks.

 

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John Toulze

John Toulze, executive chef of the girl & the fig, is a native of Northern California from a third generation French family. Cooking was and continues to be a strong passion in his family life. 

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Jordan Mackey

With more than seventeen years behind the stove, Chef Jordan Mackey has led the kitchens of several notable restaurants in Florida, Seattle and now Napa. In September 2010, he took the helm at Napa’s Restaurant Cuvee.

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Kevin Miller

Chef Kevin Miller grew up in a family where respect for the land, the produce, and a passion for fresh, seasonal ingredients provided an early inspiration. He grew up in Washington state, but education and work took him to Oregon and then California. He is now Executive Chef for The Vintage Estate in Yountville.

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Mark Dommen

Mark Dommen brings more than 20 years of experience in the kitchen to One Market Restaurant, where his modern take on American cuisine earned the restaurant a Michelin star for the fourth year in a row in the 2011 guide and a 3 ½ star review from San Francisco Chronicle critic Michael Bauer.

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Michel Cornu

Born and raised in Paris, France, Chef Michel Cornu came to the United States in 1978 and worked in Georgia, Illinois and Texas before landing in Napa in 1983.

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Mourad Lahlou

Self-taught Mourad Lahlou came to the United States from Marrakesh, Morocco in 1985 to study economics at San Francisco State University. There, he began cooking to ease the loneliness he felt while studying so far away from home. After receiving his Master's degree in economics, he recognized that his drive in the kitchen was getting serious.

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Nash Cognetti

Nash Cognetti began his culinary career working in the family business, Notarianni Produce Company in Scranton, Pennsylvania, at the ripe age of twelve. After graduating from the University of Vermont, a providential meeting in San Francisco led him to Napa and Tra Vigne Restaurant.

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Richard Reddington

After graduating from college with a degree in business, Richard Reddington realized that working in an office wasn’t for him. Inspired by his travels throughout Europe, Reddington decided to pursue his passion for food and wine by becoming a chef.

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Sean O'Toole

Chef Sean O’Toole has spent over fifteen years in some of the most highly regarded restaurants in the United States and Europe. He has developed a broad understanding of different cuisines and techniques as well as a deep appreciation of locally sourced, artisanal foods. His experience, passion and culinary skill come together to define the cuisine wherever he leads a kitchen.

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