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The Queen of Cuisine



Caterer Elaine Bell celebrates 25 years of serving savory, delectable, mouthwatering creations Clues into Elaine Bell’s destiny as a culinary superstar came early. As a five-year-old, she was transfixed by Julia Child’s cooking show. By age eight, she was experimenting in the kitchen herself. “My mother started giving me $100 a month to make whatever I wanted—one big meal or several dishes throughout the month,” Bell remembers. “It was so fun and exciting.” Today, Elaine Bell Catering Company and its offshoots host 900 events a year, serving 90,000 guests some of the most savory creations ever to hit their taste buds. This year, she celebrates her 25th year in business—and a career that many say helped revolutionize Wine Country cuisine. After training at the CIA in New York, Bell worked for renowned chef Philippe Jeanty at Domain Chandon before striking out on her own. “I really didn’t know anything about catering,” she admits. “But my husband was in the wine business, and his friends and colleagues started calling me to cater events at their wineries.” Just 25 years old, Bell would load her trusty Kenmore stove into her VW Vanagon and drive right into the vineyard, becoming the first local caterer to offer on-site cooking. “At that time, the vines were planted 12 feet apart, so we could put a long table in between them,” she says. “We added big brocade linens and candelabras and fancy chairs to create these incredible dining rooms.” Over the years, clients have marveled at Bell’s seemingly limitless range. Trained in numerous cuisines, her talent is matched only by her resourcefulness. (If a client requests duck testicles, she can find them—and has.) After years of catering for others, Bell’s anniversary offered the perfect excuse to throw a no-holds-barred celebration of her own at her new, 25,000-square-foot headquarters in Napa. But as she modestly says, “I’m just thrilled to have been doing this for 25 years with such great support.”

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Cars and Celebrities

B.R. Cohn Winery’s Annual Charity Car Classic drew more than 1,000 people with its collection of 75 vintage cars, NASCAR’s Marshal’s Banquet drew celebs and more!

Blue Oak School’s Annual Fundraiser

Held over two nights in early March, Blue Oak School’s Annual Fundraiser …and Action!

Francis Ford Coppola Winery Masquerade Ball

Heaven on Earth

Ten years after putting down roots in the Spring Mountain region, Duane and Susan Hoff are living the dream on their picturesque estate.

Kathryn Hall Release and Book Launch Party

During this big bash at Hall St. Helena, wine aficionados and renowned winemakers celebrated the latest wine release and the launch of A Perfect Score, a book by vintners Craig and Kathryn Hall that has since become a New York Times best-seller.

Sonoma International Film Festival

The 16th Sonoma International Film Festival, considered one of the top destination film festivals, presented more than 100 films, including seven premieres at eight venues.

Connolly Ranch Fundraiser

Chef Bob Hurley presented Dinner at the Ranch, with ingredients culled from the property’s farm and gardens, to raise money for the nonprofit’s educational programs that connect kids with animals and agriculture

Queen of the Valley

The Generous Heart fundraiser at Kenzo Estate garnered more than $1.7 million for Queen of the Valley Medical Center.

Final Twist

Aldea Children and Family Services Benefit Gala and Auction

Supporters of the Napa nonprofit kicked up their heels for a cause at the Great Gatsby–themed bash held at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone.

Hall St. Helena Grand Opening

Krave Sonoma

Krave Jerky hosted a night of art, wine, and jerky (of course) at Imagery Estate and Winery to benefit the Vernon Davis Foundation for the Arts.