Jeffrey Starr, Culinary Director and Executive Chef for Trinchero Family Estates, is a California native, born and raised in Palo Alto, south of San Francisco. His career path led him through some of the finest restaurants in America before he found his way to the Napa Valley wine country.
Jeffrey’s culinary adventures began as a child, where he shared the kitchen and a love of cooking with his mother and brother. Both before and during his years at the University of California at Davis, which he entered as a Viticulture and Enology major, Jeffrey worked in restaurants. Upon graduation with a degree in Agricultural Science and Management (emphasis in Food Science), Jeffrey spent the next seven years in restaurant management, often in charge of the kitchen. Remembering the fun he had cooking as a child, he decided to become a professional chef.
Jeffrey began as Prep Cook, and was soon promoted to Sous Chef, at Dakota’s in Dallas. Moving up the ranks quickly, Jeffrey was invited to help open Dallas’ exclusive Crescent Club. At the gala opening festivities Jeffrey met Mark Miller, who would have a profound influence on his career. Although at the time Jeffrey had no expertise in southwestern cuisine, Miller was impressed with his passion, and invited him to come to Santa Fe to open a new venture, Coyote Café. As Sous Chef, Jeffrey trained staff and created opening menus. His tenure at Coyote Café earned him an invitation to become Executive Chef at Malibu Adobe, a new, celebrity-owned venture in Malibu, California. He established the restaurant’s signature southwestern cuisine, which attracted some of Holly-wood’s brightest stars.
Jeffrey’s reputation grew and earned him consulting contracts for new restaurants in Nantucket, Connecticut, and Pasadena. He rediscovered his northern California roots in the Napa Valley when renowned chef and friend Jonathan Waxman asked him to consult. When that project ended, Jeffrey found himself much in demand as a private chef and eventually started his own catering business, Starr Caterers. From the outset, Starr Caterers worked extensively with Trinchero Family Estates. In 1996, the Trinchero family invited Jeffrey to become the winery’s full-time chef. Since then, Jeffrey has prepared food and created wine pairings for the many guests and hospitality events at Trinchero Family Estates. His particular interest is pairing wine with foods that reflect southwestern, Asian and other non-European culinary traditions.
Jeffrey was instrumental in the creation of the Trinchero Family Estates Culinary Center. The Culinary Center features a state-of-the-art, 2,100 square foot professional kitchen for meal preparation and Vine to Dine®, Trinchero Family Estates’ innovative food and wine trade education program. Created by Jeffrey and Vice President of Communications & Trade Relations Barry Wiss, Vine to Dine is a hands-on, interactive program to enhance the food, wine, and service knowledge of hospitality professionals.
Named Napa Valley Mustard Festival Chef of the Year in 2000 and 2001, Jeffrey served as Culinary Chair for the Napa Valley Wine Auction 2003, the world's largest charity wine auction. He has been Guest Chef for the Aspen Food and Wine Classic kick-off reception for the past four years, and was Guest Chef at the James Beard House in New York City. Jeffrey hosted the popular “Bay Gourmet” segment on the top-rated San Francisco Bay Area show “Mornings on Two” and makes frequent television, radio, and print appearances. He travels extensively for Trinchero Family Estates on behalf of its portfolio of fine wines. Jeffrey serves as Culinary Director for the Build a Better Burger National Recipe Contest ® and wrote the wine pairing notes for the Build a Better Burger Anniversary Cook Book released in 2006. When Jeffrey is not in the kitchen, he enjoys golf and riding his BMW motorcycle on the back roads near his home in St. Helena.
Visit the Trinchero Family Estates web site: www.tfewines.com