Superstar chef Kyle Connaughton and his farmer wife will be opening a Michelin-worthy restaurant in downtown Healdsburg next fall.
Several months ago, Healdsburg began buzzing with rumors that a top-notch chef may be moving into winemaker Pete Seghesio’s newly constructed Healdsburg Meat Co. property at 131 North St., where the city’s post office burned down in 2010.
Turns out the grapevine was surprisingly accurate. Today it was announced that Connaughton and his wife, Katina, will open Single Thread Farms Restaurant & Inn inside the space later this year. Seghesio’s butchery and a small tasting room for his Journeyman wines will occupy part of the first floor. They will also produce wine inside the Single Thread dining room in a glass-enclosed fermentation tank — making it the country’s smallest licensed winery.
“We really hoped to create a culinary showcase for the area with (this) building and we can’t think of a better pairing than the Connaughtons,” said Pete Seghesio. “They represent the essence of the modern food movement.”
The forthcoming 55-seat restaurant will offer an “experience” that includes personalized tours of the restaurant’s rooftop garden and greenhouse, an 11-course meal, California-centric wine pairings, lush decor and the option to stay in one of the space’s five suites while being pampered and indulged throughout the evening.
Following a fine-dining trend that’s proved popular from Chicago to Los Angeles and New York, diners will purchase tickets (running about $200 per person) for the meal in advance.
Kyle Connaughton, who spent many years cooking in Japan, compares the luxe dining concept to “omotenashi,” translated as a heightened sense of hospitality and anticipation of a guest’s every need.
Katina Connaughton, who is an experienced culinary gardener, will manage a 5-acre farm near Healdsburg, driving the menu almost entirely. Also enamored with Japanese culinary techniques, she embraces an ancient Japanese farming technique that breaks seasons into 72 five-day farming cycles, known in the expanding culinary farm-to-table cuisine as micro-seasons. That means a menu that could change daily according to what’s at the height of harvest.
Connaughton hasn’t given much detail on the types of dishes he’ll be serving on the three tasting menus (meat and seafood, seafood and vegetables, and vegetarian), but says they will be uniquely Sonoma County, with influences from his time in Japan, modernist cuisine inspired by his stint at London’s Fat Duck, the traditional French cooking of three Michelin-starred Michel Bras, and local artisan foods of Sonoma County.
“We’re bringing together farm-driven cooking with innovation,” he said.
Reading between the lines: Sonoma County is about to have a new Michelin-star contender.
Speaking to his aspirations, Connaughton said, “I think we have a real opportunity. Sonoma County is a true food and wine destination, and that kind of (fine dining) experience is one that a destination location should have.”
BiteClub Eats food blogger Heather Irwin can be reached at email@example.com. On Twitter @biteclubeats.