Healdsburg chef, dad of 4 shares ‘dude-centric’ recipes for Father’s Day
Four seems to be the magic number for Jason Pringle.
As the recently appointed executive chef at the posh Montage Healdsburg resort, he directs and oversees the menus and kitchens for four on-site restaurants, including Scout Field Bar with its stunning views of Alexander Valley and marquee fine-dining restaurant Hazel Hill.
At home, his plate is also full as the father of four children, all 6 years old and younger. He admitted it’s a juggling act for him and his wife, Ann.
“Adding in number four was a bit of a challenge,” he said. “No matter how we split them now, we’re constantly outnumbered.”
The couple moved to Sonoma County in the fall of 2020, just as Pringle was hired as the Montage’s chef de cuisine. After spending most of his career in New York, San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and with a growing family, they wanted to slow down a little, and settled in Healdsburg. It was a homecoming for his wife, who grew up in Petaluma.
“(We wanted the) small-town, family-centric community. The tight-knit community is part of the draw here,” he said, noting they’d attended the Healdsburg Future Farmers Country Fair twilight parade the night before this interview.
A native of the East Bay, Pringle was raised, culinarily speaking, in some of the nation’s top restaurant kitchens headed by luminaries like Daniel Boulud, Laurent Manrique and the late Jan Birnbaum.
Now 44, he came of age in a different world, where celebrated chefs were sometimes known for big egos and hot tempers.
Pringle, soft-spoken and by all appearances quite humble, indicates that type of kitchen culture, himself included, is changing for the better.
“I try to temper it and bring it down a lot,” he said.
Now that he’s a father, he sees parallels between fatherhood and his role as an executive chef overseeing a new generation of young cooks.
“Part of what I do is teach and mentor and bring them up in the culinary world. I’m trying to teach them to do the right thing.”
His new chef de cuisine at Hazel Hill, Sean Koenig, started working with Pringle at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay when he was just 16, so there’s a kind of paternal connection there and with many members of his younger staff.
Pringle said those relationships have helped him with the transition to fatherhood.
“In many ways, it helped me be a better dad because I was dealing with a bunch of 20-year-olds. Having mentorship and guiding people has helped me be better,” he said.
Because Pringle is at work most evenings, he takes the morning shift at home, getting his kids up, fed and out the door for school or preschool.
On days off, his family likes to hike in the Healdsburg Ridge Open Space Preserve near the resort or through Armstrong Redwoods.
And his children like to learn about what Dad does while he’s at work.
“They enjoy being in the kitchen with me, making pizzas or rolling pasta,” Pringle said.
Just like in a restaurant kitchen, there’s an element of controlled chaos, albeit on a different level, when he cooks with his kids.
“There’s lots of pushing and shoving and crying because they all want to be right there and be the one in front,” he said.
Like for many families, pancakes on Saturday mornings are practically a given.
“That’s a big thing for them,” said Pringle, who can’t resist giving the weekend morning tradition a chef-like twist. “Occasionally I’ll do a ricotta and lemon pancake.”
His children’s tastes run from the expensive to the pedestrian, according to Pringle.
“I was given some samples of caviar and took it home and thought I’d just see, ‘Hey what do you think of it?’ and my oldest loved it,” he said, chuckling. “He likes it with a little cracker and crème fraîche.”
He finds the tastes of guests at the resort, mostly well-heeled tourists, also run the gamut. Some want to keep their meals light and healthy. Others, he said, come to Sonoma County on a culinary adventure to indulge, dining one night at Hazel Hill and other nights at Single Thread and Cyrus.
When they do go out with all four little ones in tow, Pringle and his family like to hit Healdsburg Bar & Grill or Mary’s Pizza Shack.
“We wind up at Mary’s a lot for the nostalgia for my wife. That was her favorite childhood spot,” he said.
With Father’s Day later this month, Pringle is busy planning the menu for the Montage’s jazz brunch, an extravagant feast made with men in mind.
“We’re keeping it very dude-centric, if you will, for lack of a better name,” he said.
That means plenty of meat and some boozy elements added for good measure.