February 22nd, 2007 08:35 EST
Judyth Piazza chats with David Frakes, Culinary Chef
David Frakes joined Beringer Vineyards as Chef de Cuisine in December of 1999, bringing with him a style that captures the spirit of Northern California cuisine and reflects the seasonality and regionality of this abundant culinary mecca.
Focused-toward a culinary profession by his "world-traveled gastronome Grandmother" from the age of ten, David`s fate seemed sealed long before he graduated with high honors from the California Culinary Academy in 1992. Several years in San Francisco as a sous chef at La Scene in the Warwick-Regis Hotel were followed by a position at The Dining Room in the Ritz-Carlton with Gary Danko. As Danko`s lead fish chef for over three years, Frakes learned to capture the flavors of San Francisco in its most well-known medium "seafood. It was during this time that Gourmet Magazine named the Ritz Carlton`s restaurant among the top ten in America . Danko called David, "bright, talented, energetic, and passionate."
In 1997, David was offered the position of Executive Chef at Applewood Inn in Guerneville. The lure of running his own kitchen at a small inn nestled in the redwoods on six and half acres of fruit orchards and gardens was more than he could resist. "I gained immeasurable experience and knowledge working in the city with Danko but I was ready to expand my cuisine and excited to immerse myself in an environment where I could watch the seasons, know what was growing and work with whatever was coming off the trees that day. It really is the only way to cook "your order form for food is the path that winds through the garden."
In the years that David spent at Applewood, he developed a distinct style that reflected the seasonality and regionality of Sonoma County . What he couldn`t find on the property grounds, he got from local purveyors who would bring in wild mushrooms, fresh cheeses, and local meats. His menus were designed around what was available and expressed the freshness of the ingredients. David also helped the owners design and launch a new restaurant to adjoin the inn. Before he left, he was given the highest rating of five stars by local food critic, Jeff Cox of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
When David joined Beringer, he teamed up with then Executive Chef, Jerry Comfort . " I had to re-learn everything that I thought I knew about preparing food to compliment wine," Frakes explains. "Beringer definitely rounded out my experience and knowledge of cooking in the wine country " I now know how to work backwards as well as forwards when pairing food and wine." For initiation, Frakes` first day on the job, he cooked for Julia Child. He still remembers the menu today and describes "the most amazing cheese course, the cost of which would have put most restaurants out of business." In December 2000, David was promoted to Executive Chef of Beringer Vineyards.
David lives happily in Santa Rosa with his wife Karen and their menagerie of animal (dog and cat) children. He is a dedicated supporter of food related charities and the American Heart Association, regularly cooking and hosting educational seminars that benefit these worthy causes.
For More Information: www.beringer.com