Friday was a big night for 50 lovers of Pinot Noir and reality TV. Season 16 cast members from one of Unfiltered’s favorite reality cooking competitions, Bravo’s Top Chef, teamed with Top Winery Kosta Browne for a special reunion dinner in the barrel cellar. In the Sonoma winery's tiny kitchen, young chefs David Viana, Eddie Konrad, Brandon Rosen, Michelle Minori, Caitlin Steininger and Brian Young, all alums of the most recent season, prepared passed appetizers and entrées as part of a six-course meal paired with rare Kosta Browne wines.
The story of Top Chef and Kosta Browne started with good food, good wine and good people. And french fries. Winery reps first met the chefs by chance before an event in Chicago and shared bottles of Champagne and Kosta Browne Pinot Noir—and Shake Shack burgers and fries; a more formal pairing event in June followed. “It’s been a wonderful, whirlwind relationship that started in Chicago, and has found its way here to the winery,” Viana said at the event.
The gaggle of chefs quickly occupied every inch of the kitchen's counter space with plates, mise en place and wineglasses filled with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and then it was showtime. For Unfiltered, a highlight from the evening’s menu was Michelle Minori’s chewy yet fluffy squid ink strozzapreti with lobster, pine nuts, crunchy potato crumble and pimenton paired with the 2016 Russian River Valley Treehouse Vineyard Pinot. Minori made the pasta from freshly milled Desert King durum wheat from the San Joaquin Valley, near her hometown of Lodi, Calif. When Unfiltered asked her about cooking in wine country, she admitted that her first time in Napa and Sonoma surprised her. “I was confused by these tiny twigs that they called vines,” she laughed, referencing Lodi’s reputation for gnarled old vines.
For its part, KB has been regularly bringing in star chefs for a few years now as part of its Chef Series. “We are forever pursuing increasing the quality of our wines, and we felt that it is right to partner with those in the culinary world who share the same obsession,” Kosta Browne’s director of hospitality Damon Wong told us.
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