Sonoma's Kenwood Inn and Spa Adds a Celebrity Connection to the Kitchen

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Steven Snook, Executive Chef

wcPersonality_KenwoodSpa_snook1.jpgAfter six years in the Michelin Star-rated kitchens of the esteemed, charismatic and outspoken British chef Gordon Ramsay, Steven Snook has traded in the big city, pressure cooker life working in such critically acclaimed, high profile restaurants for the Executive Chef position at the much slower-paced, award-winning, guests-only Restaurant at the Kenwood Inn and Spa. Opened in 1989 as a luxury hideaway in Sonoma's Valley of the Moon, the Kenwood Inn and Spa offers 29 Mediterranean-styled guest rooms flanked by courtyards, three saline pools, and vineyard views. The Spa at Kenwood features cutting edge, results-oriented skincare treatments and body treatments utilizing vinotherapy -engaging the exceptional rejuvenating and protective powers of the grape. 

What Chef Snook brings with him from those priceless years under such a talented and exacting chef is expertly sharpened culinary chops, exceedingly high standards and a profound respect and connection to the bounty provided by local artisan food growers and producers.

During his tenure as Sous Chef at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, both in London, Chef Snook stood out to Chef Ramsay's team for his impeccable standards and discriminating palate, which allowed him some very interesting experiences not afforded to most chefs.

"In May 2008 I was asked by Gordon to help with the filming of the fourth season of his television show the F Word," says Snook.

"I was responsible for designing the kitchen, creating and testing all of the recipes; setting up the kitchen for filming; and demonstrating the recipes to the visiting celebrity contestants," he continues.

"After that I was asked several times to help Gordon and Mark Sargent with recipe testing and food styling for many of Gordon's recipe books and photo shoots for newspaper and magazine articles, which were all very educational and enlightening experiences."

wcPersonality_KenwoodSpa_snook2.jpgA promotion to Executive Sous Chef of Maze by Gordon Ramsay and a move to New York City in 2009 found Chef Snook in a leadership position, overseeing the kitchen and maintaining Ramsay's notoriously stringent standards in food preparation. He worked closely with suppliers and purveyors, a position in which he felt quite comfortable.
"My first real chef job was at the one Michelin Star-rated Reads Restaurant in Kent, England. It's a very small kitchen with only five cooks and I was responsible for collecting produce from the gardens on a daily basis from where eighty percent of the produce was sourced," he explains.

"It was at Reads that I was taught the basics of foraging for fruits, vegetables and mushrooms. I really worked my way around that entire kitchen and garden," he says with a laugh.

Chef Snook is bringing this affinity for freshly picked, seasonal ingredients to the the Restaurant at the Kenwood Inn and Spa, which, while open to spa and overnight guests only, is one of the most beautiful spots in town for a delectable meal.

Chef Snook intends to contribute the bulk of the ingredients on the daily menus from Kenwood's garden and supplement with local products.

"My long term goal is for us to be 90 percent self-sufficient from our garden to meet our produce needs," challenges Chef Snook. "Ultimately, I envision us making our own bread, yoghurt, cheese and even charcuterie on the property."

Look for no more than five to six ingredients on any one of Chef Snook's plates.  

"Simplicity is the focus of my dishes which will allow these beautiful ingredients to really shine," says Snook.

This concept of simple, rustic, yet delicious food is completely inline with Kenwood's concept of farm-fresh Italian food, which in turn, pairs beautifully with the Inn's gorgeous Tuscan villa-inspired architecture.

Chef Snook's menus will be hyper-seasonal, thus subject to change. His winter menu includes...

Gnocchi di Patate con Prosciutto
-Hand rolled potato gnocchi, taleggio, mustard greens, Figones peach-cranberry white balsamic and crisp Prosciutto di Parma.
Pesce del Giorno
-Black olive poached monkfish, Kenwood garden's black cabbage, caper berries and herb croquette.

Insalata di Germogli di Bruxelles Caldo
Warm salad of Brussels sprouts, local walnuts, pear and Meyer lemon.

The Kenwood Inn and Spa's culinary performance is not contained to just savory delights. Kenwood Pastry Chef, Khambay Khamsyvoravong, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, perfectly complements Snook's vision for the main course with a stellar sweet finish for dessert. In addition, guests will find a complimentary daily breakfast highlighting a delicious array of fresh delicacies and entrees to start each day, including freshly squeezed juices, house made jams and jelly, farm fresh eggs and Chef Khambay's exquisite breakfast pastries.

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