Variety’s 10 Chefs to Watch bring diverse talents and tastes to the Napa Valley Film Festival. — Profiles by Lindzi Scharf
FK Frozen Kuhsterd
Angeles launched FK Frozen Kuhsterd in 2011 with his own take on the frozen dessert. Angeles is best known for what he calls West Coast-style frozen custard. 2001’s “Shrek” will serve as the inspiration behind Angeles’ dish, which will feature a scoop of salted-butter popcorn, flavored frozen custard topped with caramel popcorn pieces and a cookies-and-cream cotton candy cloud.
Courtesy of Jason Angeles
El Sur SF
The classically trained El Sur SF founder launched her company in 2012 after spending time in Argentina and France. A graduate of Cordon Bleu in Paris, Despres spent time working at French Laundry in Yountville before opening El Sur SF. Despres specializes in handmade empanadas, which are influenced by her Argentinian heritage and French culinary training. 1992’s “Like Water for Chocolate” will serve as the inspiration behind her Five Dot Ranch beef empanadas with fresh chimichurri sauce.
Courtesy of Marianne Despres
The Bay Area native specializes in Hawaiian raw-fish salad that utilizes organic, free-range and sustainable ingredients. Dizon will be using 2010’s “Despicable Me” as the inspiration behind a dish called the Bonito Poke Nachos, which will feature aji amarillo cheese sauce.
Courtesy of Steve Dizon
Founder, Tai Chi Jianbing
Shortly after moving to San Francisco from China, Hu opened Tai Chi Jianbing, a Bay Area pop-up and catering operation that serves up Chinese fusion fare. 2015’s Chinese superhero parody “Jianbing Man” inspired Hu to create the traditional Chinese Jianbing for the festival, featuring cage-free eggs, mung bean flour, wheat flour, green onion, cilantro, roasted sesame, cumin, garlic chili sauce, sweet bean paste and crunchy wonton.
Courtesy of Cheng Hu
Clif Family Bruschetteria
The former executive chef for Hillstone Restaurant Group cut his teeth working for the Michelin-starred Campton Place Hotel in San Francisco as well as at the Terra Restaurant in St. Helena. The Napa Valley resident works for the Clif Family Winery & Farm. He’ll be preparing a White Russian vanilla chiffon cake brushed in a syrup of vodka and Kahlua, topped with a cream cheese frosting, which is inspired by 1998’s “The Big Lebowski.”
Courtesy of John McConnell
Andrea ‘Brooklyn’ Neal
The Brooklyn native has worked everywhere from Jean Georges in New York to the Michael Chiarello restaurant group in San Francisco. Neal launched Addictive Toast after privately working with various celebrities and athletes, including New York Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. During the event, Neal will be serving up Original Toast, featuring toasted Acme Pain au Levain sourdough bread, organic avocado, organic Meyer lemon, chili lime seasoning, sea salt and fresh edible flowers, a dish inspired by 2017’s “Ingrid Goes West.”
Courtesy of Andrea ‘Brooklyn’ Neal
The Swiss third-generation master butcher is bringing his Bay Area gourmet rotisserie to the festival, where he’ll serve up Heritage Foods USA Roasted Pork Loin, which will be marinated in Roli Roti’s signature butcher’s bone broth and topped with “Gold” Swiss mountain raclette cheese from Switzerland’s Jungfrau region. Odermatt’s inspiration? 1964’s “Goldfinger,” which was partially filmed in Jungfrau.
Courtesy of Thomas Odermatt
Mark’s the Spot
The Mark’s the Spot chef/owner has worked all over the world from New Zealand to London, Spain and Sonoma. Raymond was previously the opening chef for Roxanne’s Living Foods in Larkspur, and launched Mark’s the Spot Fine Food in 2010. He will be serving Oooh Girl sticky chicken, featuring buttermilk fried chicken atop Hawaiian French toast, inspired by 1977’s “Smokey and the Bandit.”
Simonson co-founded Crossroad Chicken with his brother Colin. The duo create a different menu every week featuring wood-fired oven offerings made from local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients. For the 10 Chefs to Watch event, Simonson will be preparing BBQ Mary’s free-range chicken pizzettas, topped with caramelized onion, fontina, calabrian chile aioli, and organic baby arugula, which drew inspiration from 2000’s “Vatel.”
Courtesy of Kevin Simonson
Pico Modern Taqueria
The Jalisco, Mexico, native specializes in traditional Mexican fare, which prompted him in 2014 to create a snack bar, Calaveras, in Napa. He has since joined the Elements Restaurant Group to create Pico Modern Taqueria, which offers classic Mexican dishes in taco form while utilizing fresh, local ingredients. Soto will be creating a Mexico City inspired hot dog taco with Heritage Pork chorizo, Heirloom potato, tomatillo and pickled cabbage, drawing inspiration from 2000’s “Amores Perros.”