Chef Vincent Nattress
In dish after dish, the chef shows an unwavering restraint and a natural talent for balancing flavors.
Vincent grew up on Whidbey Island, in family with a deep appreciation for the out or doors, foraging and food. His earliest memories are of fishing, clamming and picking berries in the fall. His dad was a great teacher, especially when it came to how to handle a boat or how to sharpen a knife. His mother was an avid home cook who would cook any fish he caught, as long as Vincent cleaned it.
Vincent was 16 when his culinary career began in a local fine dining restaurant. At 18, he traveled to Europe for the first time and fell in love with the food and vineyards of France, and its centuries of culinary history. During his college years, Vincent traveled to Europe on three occasions, culminating in a summer spent working at a Michelin starred restaurant in Provence. This internship served as his senior project for a self-designed Bachelor of Arts degree entitled "A Cultural & Historical Perspective on the Culinary Arts."
Vincent's love of food and wine brought him to Napa Valley in 1993. During more than 16 years in Napa Valley he served as Winery Chef at both Stag's Leap Wine Cellars and Robert Sinskey Vineyards. He cooked for Robert Mondavi in his home and, in 1997 Vincent founded his own catering company, Vinous.
During this period Vincent was fortunate to work on three PBS television series, including the James Beard Award winning "Jacques Pepin's Kitchen: Encore with Claudine." He also worked as the Production Chef on two of Pepin's books. Vincent worked as an ambassador for Napa Valley Cuisine, cooking in Thailand and Malaysia among other locations.
In 2001 Vincent and his wife, Tyla Jones Nattress, opened Roux, an intimate, fine dining restaurant in downtown St. Helena. Roux’s menu focused on a multi-course tasting menu, and in its first year, Roux was named one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 10 restaurants of 2001. Roux was featured in several national publication including Food & Wine and USA Today.
In January of 2004 Vincent joined Meadowood Napa Valley as the Executive Chef, overseeing three restaurants and what grew to be a $8,000,000 Food and Beverage department. Vincent helped to develop the concept for the new Restaurant at Meadowood, overseeing the reopening. The Restaurant garnered Two Michelin Stars in its first year. Among his favorite duties at Meadowood was overseeing all culinary aspects of Auction Napa Valley, the oldest and most prestigious charitable wine auction in America, with an average of 2,200 attendants. His other accolades included being named the Chef of the Year for the Napa Valley Mustard Festival in 2006 and 2007.
In 2009 the Nattress Family returned to Whidbey Island, in search of a place where they could live and work, combining their varied interests in food, farming and teaching, and do so in a way that allowed them to live a balanced life. In 2011 they purchased an historic, five-acre farm in the Bayview area of Langley.
The process of bring the property back to life began immediately. The old orchard was replanted that winter. In September of 2011 their partners, Blake & Bobbie Mennella, broke ground on their row-crop farm. Today the farm is an extremely productive 3 acre organic farm, an acre of pasture for goats & sheep, and a dual purpose orchard / poultry pasture for more than 50 chickens, producing the best eggs in the world.
2014 was a big year for Vincent in terms of his participation in Slow Food. He had been one of the founding members of Slow Food Whidbey Island and had served as its President for four years. He was selected as a participant in the first ever Slow Meat conference in Denver in June, and then was selected as a delegate for Slow Food USA's Terra Madre delegation in Turin, Italy. After the conference Tyla met up with Vincent in Peidmont right at the height of white truffle season, so that was a bonus!
2015 will be the year the Orchard Kitchen, their rural event center on their farm in Langley, will fully come to fruition. Stay tuned for details.