Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Bread and Butter

The Charter Oak keeps things simple-except for its bread program.



Local Loaf: The bread at this St. Helena eatery is created with regional ingredients.

Photos by Kelly Pulejo

The first item on the menu at The Charter Oak restaurant in St. Helena is Charter Oak bread—$5 for a small loaf, $10 for a large one. Far from your standard table bread, this staple is the result of a robust bread program headed by executive chef Katianna Hong.

Katianna Hong: The Charter Oak's executive chef manages its extensive bread program. The brainchild of three-Michelin–star chef Christopher Kostow of the Restaurant at Meadowood,TheCharter Oak offers similarly creative, artistic, and hyperlocal cuisine. But this endeavor—located in the stone building that once housed the legendary Tra Vigne restaurant—sports a more casual, family-style-dining setting. Breaking bread—or the act of sitting down with family and friends to share a meal—is what The Charter Oak is all about, so it’s fitting that bread plays an integral role in the menu, which features not only the namesake loaf but also house-made buns, tortillas, flatbreads, and more.

“Our general theme and our ethos is using our garden, using local products—doing things simplistically but making it special to us,” says Hong, the former chef de cuisine at Meadowood (which now picks up its bread daily from The Charter Oak). “It might be a simple bread, but you can only get that loaf here.”

Watch and Learn: An open-hearth kitchen means diners can get a sneak peek of the signature gluteny goodness. Though the restaurant’s approach is to keep it simple, making a trademark bread is anything but. The first step is acquiring locally sourced, high-quality wheat. Charter Oak preservationist Charlie Appel (who is responsible for dried, cured, and fermented items) found biodynamic farmer Sally Fox of Vreseis Farm in Brooks, who now provides the restaurant with two varieties of wheat: Patwin and Sonora.

Labor of Love: The Charter Oak team has its hands in every step of the bread's process, from the custom yeast starter to the baking.

The grain is then milled locally and the resulting flour is fed to The Charter Oak’s starter, which is over 25 years old. The starter was adopted by the bread team and nourished with its signature wheat flour, and it is the basis for every bread product at the restaurant.

“Anyone can buy a bread cookbook, order the same flour, and make bread,” says Hong. “We wanted something that speaks to this area. You can only have our bread because it’s a relationship we’ve built with a local farmer.”

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Coming Home in Style

Wine Country Times Ten

For serious lovers of food and wine, it doesn’t get any better than this …

Bread Winner

Any Thomas Keller enthusiast who waits in a Disneyland-long line to get into Yountville’s Bouchon Bakery will know that the bakery’s new cookbook—much like the treats behind the door—is a gift to behold.

A Sophisticate Palate

In this day and age of Iron Chef and Rachael Ray, everyone thinks they're a chef - or wants to learn to be one. Evolving with this culinary trend, the prestigious California Institute of America at Greystone is expanding its nonprofessional programs, offering a wide range of ways to introduce the amateur chef to the bounty of Wine Country.

Barn by Barn

Eileen Chiarello launches crowdfunding company to support “good food” entrepreneurs.

Flavor! Napa Valley

Flavor! Napa Valley is a celebration of wine, food, and fun.

Call of the Wild

5 New Wine Country Restaurants

New restaurants to delight your taste buds.

New Wine Country Eats

What’s for dinner? reservations, at these tasty new Spots.

A Sweet Deal

The triumphant return of pastry chef Patrick Fahy to the French Laundry.

New Eats

Delicious news, from three Michelin stars to sports bars.

Culture Club

Culinary globe-trotting around Healdsburg Plaza.
Edit ModuleShow Tags