Table for Two
A passion for good food fuels love, work, and play.
Courtesy of Jenn Anderson and Mick Salyer
Restaurateur Mick Salyer keeps a poker face as he vows, “I don’t pick up people in my bar.” Then, he lets out a laugh.
His girlfriend, Jenn Anderson, cheerfully interrupts: “Except it worked [with] me.”
“She was a barfly,” Salyer teases.
Anderson comes back at him with a smile: “I was a dedicated customer.”
It’s a charming back-and-forth for the two, who met in 2007 at Salyer’s Spanish restaurant and tapas bar, Zuzu (pictured), on Napa’s Main Street. At the time, Anderson was a bartender at The Culinary Institute of America’s restaurant with a background in pastry cooking, a career that had taken her to Mustards Grill and The Meritage Resort and Spa. Now, she is general manager of the Hog Island Oyster Co. outpost in Napa’s Oxbow Public Market—but she still finds time to bake desserts.
“We’re fortunate we love our work, since we both work a lot,” Anderson says.
The couple also enjoys traveling together, to countries including Spain. In fact, their trip to San Sebastian helped inspire what is now one of Napa’s hottest lounges: La Taberna, a more casual tapas bar Salyer opened late last year, three doors down from Zuzu. While in Basque Country, the couple was drawn to the way locals walked from one tapas bar to the next, snacking, drinking, and relaxing in tavern-like settings.
Salyer is all about authenticity, so he and Anderson tour Spain with the chefs who work at his restaurants. He says the secret to finding the best places in the vibrant country is to look for ones with lots of napkins on the floor, since well-fed Spaniards like to toss their napkins, cheese rinds, olive pits, chorizo casings, and snail shells to the ground in a show of how much they’ve eaten. (Though, Salyer jokes, you won’t see that at his eateries.)
What the two relish most, though, are the rare, quiet nights spent at their home in Napa, baking and engaging in what Anderson calls “kitchen therapy.” When they’re not doing that, Salyer and Anderson love going to movies, hiking, biking, and just hanging out with their pets.
“I had cats, and she had cats,” Salyer explains. “Now we’re the Brady Bunch.”