Credentials: Robert Mondavi Winery vice president of cultural affairs
News flash: This month, the reigning queen of Napa celebrates the 100th birthday of her late husband Robert Mondavi.
When did you first fall in love with food/wine?
As soon as I was taken off the bottle as a baby!
Yeast dough. A good dough rises and changes throughout the baking process…it is alive! I like to make a little fresh bread, then serve it with some fresh smoked salmon crème fraîche and a Fume Blanc. It’s the perfect way to start a meal.
Best thing you’ve eaten in Napa?
It has to be Oysters and Pearls at the French Laundry in Yountville. Thomas Keller is a dear friend, and he created the perfect combination of flavor, texture and taste with this dish.
Dream playlist while in the kitchen?
I love to cook while listening to anything by Dave Brubeck, Ella Fitzgerald, Ravel, Debussey, and Mozart. Ella and Dave used to play at the Robert Mondavi Winery summer concerts, and they became good friends of mine.
Swiss Chocolate! I am from Switzerland and visit at least once a year. I always take the opportunity to stock up and bring some home for my family.
What motivates you?
Beauty, art, and people that are inspiring.
What’s in your refrigerator?
I shop for fresh ingredients every day, but my staples in my refrigerator are a good soft cheese, eggs, good butter, and a bottle of Robert Mondavi Winery Fume Blanc Reserve.
Where do you go for a good drink and what do you order?
I’ll go to any cute bar for a Campari and Soda.
I never have takeout…I love to eat out and with friends. Food should be about sharing stories around a table with a good bottle of wine!
What Bay Area restaurants are on your list to try?
I can only think of one…Manresa. I have never been and I have heard that it is excellent!
It’s a little taboo for California these days, but a seared Foie Gras with our 2001 Sauvignon Blanc Botrytis is a beautiful pairing.
Favorite don't-tell-anyone junk food?
A good taco from a taco truck!
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten?
Probably fried bugs at a roadside stand in Thailand.
If you weren't in the wine industry, you'd be….?
Peddling art in Paris.
Any dietary restrictions?
I am allergic to bad food….
Best wine memory?
Enjoying a 1974 cabernet sauvignon reserve with Robert at our home with a beautiful homemade meal.
Describe your work persona in one word.
Favorite Napa spots?
A gorgeous summer day in the Vineyard Room at Robert Mondavi Winery, Oysters at Hog Island at Oxbow Market, and The Napa Valley Opera House.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A more organized version of myself.
Strangest customer request at the winery?
I once gave a tour and a lady said to me, “I don’t like wine, do you have anything else?”
Proudest professional moment?
Back in 1973, I hosted an event at the winery that brought together many of the great chefs and vintners from France. I gave them a multilingual tour of the property, and at the end, I got a round of applause.
This article was published in 7x7's June issue. Click here to subscribe.