The New Copia
Napa’s Gastro-Museum makes a comeback with the help of a renowned cooking institute.
Victor M. Samuel PHOTOGRAPHY
Across the river from downtown Napa, next to the popular Oxbow Public Market, the lights are on at the new Copia. The ultramodern (and long-vacant) building that was once a museum to food, wine, and the arts is now the thriving Napa campus of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. It joins three other locations in the Culinary Institute constellation: the ivy-clad campus in Hyde Park, New York; the imposing Greystone building in St. Helena; and the Texas campus on the San Antonio River Walk.
With a reputation for turning out the country’s leading chefs, the institute is something of a rock star in the culinary world, and that star power shines brightly at the new Copia. The 80,000-square-foot Napa campus dazzles with wine tastings, an elegant store, an indoor theater, an outdoor amphitheater, interactive cooking demos, hands-on classes, and presentations about all things edible. It is also hosting the annual Flavor! Napa Valley, a food and wine event to benefit the educational programs at the cooking institute.
The campus will also soon feature highlights like the “Wine Hall of Fame,” to be displayed in the vast atrium, and “The Chuck Williams Culinary Arts Collection,” a gallery of antique kitchenware donated by the Williams-Sonoma founder. The location is also an ideal destination for weddings and special events.
This summer, on Copia’s upper level, look for the opening of several state-of-the-art teaching kitchens offering top-notch, hands-on cooking classes. From five-day boot camps to hour-long “exploration” classes, courses will be available to “enthusiasts” as well as master chefs. Unlike its sister campuses, The Culinary Institute of America at Copia is dedicated to the education and enjoyment of hobbyist cooks and casual food lovers.
Which brings us to The Restaurant at CIA Copia, perhaps the very best reason to visit. Staffed by professionals, which include alumni from The Culinary Institute of America, the comfortable restaurant features cart-and-tray dishes with tons of curb appeal that circulate throughout the dining room, landing right at your table. As well-placed spotlights illuminate whimsical culinary creations, it’s clear that the stars over Copia have finally aligned. ciaatcopia.com.