I started writing a restaurant review column for The Cotati Independent, a friend’s monthly newspaper in August, 2011. In my column I review restaurants, bars, cafes, food vendors and farmers markets in the Wine Country of Sonoma and Napa County’s and beyond. I try to do this with candor and a sense of humor.
My background in food was pretty basic. I learned to cook in my Mother’s and Grandmother’s kitchens. Mom was of Polish descent, and Dad was Italian, so meals were as different and varied as my parents’ backgrounds. As an adult I worked as a hostess for my friends’ Northern Italian restaurant, “Marcello’s” in the Sunset district of San Francisco for 5 years.
In 2000 my husband and I moved to Cotati in Sonoma County. In 2005 my culinary education took a giant step forward when I volunteered as an assistant to the director and visiting chefs in the cooking school at Sur La Table, Santa Rosa. I was in the program for about a year, when a new chef arrived who eventually took over the directorship. Her name was Mary Bergin, and she would change forever the way I prepare, cook, serve and taste food. Mary was and is a real celebrity chef. Hired as his Executive Pastry Chef by Wolfgang Puck in Los Angeles when he was about to open Spago, Mary worked for Wolfgang for over 19 years, some of those in Las Vegas when he opened a Spago there. The author of several cookbooks, her chocolate recipes have been mentioned in Julia Child cookbooks and she has appeared on national TV. She’s one of my best friends and we love to get together to share a meal.
Today, everyone is a food critic thanks to Yelp and other web sites. I try to fairly evaluate food on presentation, quality, taste, restaurant ambiance and staff efficiency and I don’t just visit 5-Star restaurants. My goal is to offer a spectrum of dining choices to anyone who reads my column or follows my blog where I give my honest opinion and suggestions for improvement when needed.
I hope you enjoy reading my critiques and find them helpful.