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A Michelin-starred chef before the age of 30, Christopher Kostow takes a thoughtful approach to food that belies his age. Masterfully blending contemporary French cuisine with the farm-to-table tradition, Christopher creates a transcendent experience for diners every night at The Restaurant at Meadowood.
“I embrace food memories—traditional combinations that work together—and then distill those flavors into something that is very much different, and very much stands on its own.”
The result is a changing menu of confident and creative constructions like Bolinas Goat poached in Whey and Fluke steamed in Carrot Tops. Choosing to forge his own educational path, Christopher credits the support and teaching of such renowned chefs as Trey Foshee and Daniel Humm with giving him the freedom and opportunity to hone his craft. Since arriving at Meadowood in February 2008, Christopher has introduced dishes that draw on the bounty of the seasons while taking a disciplined approach to modern French fare. Guided by the pure flavors of the highest-quality ingredients, Christopher also leaves room for inspired spontaneity. Strawberries partner with foie gras, olive oil ice cream complements Spanish mackerel cured in citrus, and fava leaves and green garlic velouté enhance a slow poached egg.
Though Christopher has always had a passion for food, this Chicago native passed much of his youth cooking for friends and brushing off suggestions he pursue a serious career as a chef. It was only after earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Hamilton College in New York that Christopher knew his calling. Relocating to San Diego in 1999, he set out to enter the rarified world of fine dining and caught the eye of the area’s foremost chef, Trey Foshee, named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in 1998. After just a few months at the acclaimed George’s at the Cove, Chef Foshee gave Christopher the opportunity to create his own dishes when he was only 22.
The intensity and discipline of the kitchen was a welcome challenge for Christopher, who worked his way up the ranks during a three-year tenure. Always one to push the envelope and gain more experience, Christopher left his position at George’s and took off on a whirlwind trip through France. He landed in kitchens far and wide, from a Paris bistro to Michelin-starred Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier to the village of Salon-de-Provence, where he manned the stove at a former monk’s abbey dating to the 14th century.
After returning to the States, Christopher moved to San Francisco where he worked as sous chef under the auspices of Daniel Humm at the award-winning Campton Place Restaurant. From there, he became top toque at Chez TJ in Mountain View for two years, garnering the restaurant many accolades including three Michelin stars and a coveted spot on Food & Wine’s list of Top Ten Dishes of the Year in 2007. Upon arriving at Meadowood in February of 2008, Christopher maintained three Michelin Stars, was nominated for Best Chef: Pacific by the James Beard Foundation and named as one of Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs 2009. In February 2010, Christopher garnered a rare four stars in the San Francisco Chronicle and was soon awarded the highest ranking of three Michelin Stars from the esteemed 2011 Guide. Christopher is the second American-born chef and third youngest chef ever to receive three Michelin stars.
"We have nearly everything we need right in our own garden, and we also maintain very close relations with local growers. I often use radishes because we grow various species that are ready to eat in spring, summer or winter. For example, I make an amuse-bouche with radishes: a black rye macaroon with fresh butter and a wafer-thin slice of radish. Radish and butter is a wonderful combination — with a pinch of sea salt!"