Interview with Chef Aaron Meneghelli of The Carneros Inn Napa Farm Restaurant
What was your fist memory of cooking and what did you cook? The first meal I remember cooking with my dad is angel hair pasta with a fresh tomato sauce. The tomatoes were diced and left raw, mixed with olive oil, garlic, and basil. The tomatoes would macerate with the raw garlic and salt and give you the freshest summer taste, mixed with the fresh angle hair and served warm. Super simple and still one of my favorite summer pastas
What is a knife you cannot live without? My Akifusa 240mm gyuto (chef knife)
What is one ingredient you cannot cook without? What is one dish you cannot live without? Other than salt, I almost always have a type of onion somewhere in a dish. As for a dish, I cannot live without polenta.
What was one of the biggest mistakes you made your first year out of school? If I were to go back I would have worked in Europe or NYC and tried to challenge myself by heading a bit further away from the home. But I don’t have any true regrets, I am very happy with I were I am today, both in work and my personal life.
When did you know you wanted to become a chef? My mom made the first suggestion to me about culinary school, a couple years later I considered it more intently. I knew I wanted to be in this industry before I went to culinary school, but as school went on I began to excel and felt very confident in what I was doing. It has been an ever changing career choice and I still day dream about what I will do next
What was your first role as a chef? My first role as Executive Chef was at Angele Restaurant in Napa
Who has been the most influential mentor/chef in your career? Robert Leva, he had intensity about him that I meshed well with. The food we cooked was not over manipulated, it was great quality products and we took great care of each of them, something that had been shown to me prior by my first Chef out of school, Sarah Scott. Robert allowed me to take it to another level and I still think of that time often
What gave you the idea/inspiration for the menu and concept at The Farm Restaurant?Napa. I am lucky to do something that I love and am continually challenged by in my home town. We have so many opportunities to mingle cultures and tourniquets in the bay area, and Napa is able to be one of the best places to do that
What is your favorite after work drink? Sazerac with Redemption Rye
What is your favorite local spot. Torc. Read more about Torc.
Tell us something that would surprise people about you? I let my daughter paint my toe nails
What do you think?