for johnny schmitt, family and cooking have always gone hand-in-hand. the son of don and sally schmitt, former owners of the french laundry, johnny grew up working in the family restaurant. at 18 he struck out on his own, rejecting classroom learning for the real thing, gaining cooking experience in france over the course of multiple visits before buying the boarded up boonville hotel with his wife jeanne in 1989.
from the first time brennon moore laid a finger on flat iron steak, this funky senior samurai had the intangibles, the ability to sense the perfect pink core of a thick cut, the smell of when to run to the oven, the requisite amount of steam and patience to attain the exquisite al dente of a simple hand cut pasta. with complex paradiddles of pinches of salt and cumin and snaps of mustard and pepper, he beats a scrumptious cadence on the chopping block and above the grill. in every dish he incorporates heart, soul, and a bit of boogie & rhythm… a palatable offering.
a butcher, a baker, a greeting card maker, and a prodigal from the apple farm chutney kitchen, sous chef katie wenthworth can arrange flowers and sift flour into english muffins, pita, and tortillas like a true california transplant gringa señorita. steeped in farm to table sumptuousness for the last several years, she cut her teeth on cheese making and fresh fromage blanc enchiladas, hand cranking butter and rolling gnocchi to perpetuate the long standing boonvillain traditions of salt, butter, swine, and fine wine. katie is not scared to try any recipe, and brings a fresh pair of hands and a library full of recipes both familiar and unusual to the hotel kitchen.
melinda ellis cooked with johnny at the boonville hotel over twenty years ago, and at the french laundry with don and sally schmitt before that. since then she worked as a private chef, created melinda ellis cakes, baking magnificent wedding cakes for brides on the mendocino coast and opened Paysanne-real sweet things here in town. She returned to the hotel to partner and pursue some of her dearest loves: shortening the distance between the garden and table, savoring food at its freshest, and caring one and all as if they were family.