Chef's Blog

Solage Calistoga's Executive Chef Brandon Sharp shares his passion for cooking, life and all things Napa Valley.


“There are plenty of high-end restaurants, such as the stunning Solbar, with remarkable bass with pear or dungeness crab with a sweet potato veloute to go with a knowledgeable wine staff”

- Jim Byers

Toronto Star

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February 25, 2011

vote for Brandon Sharp to be the PBNC!

That’s a link small enough for you kids to Twitter.  Polls are open till midnight March 1st!

February 17, 2011

Time to pick the People’s Best New Chef–a new contest from CNN/Food & Wine–and I hope you’re voting for me.  No need to input your email address or any other info, just click on this link, scroll down past the pictures, click my name, click VOTE, and you’re done.  It’s awards season in every field.

The cold rain and wind started up again in NV this week, a great moment to come in and check out our lounge menu as revamped by Andrew Kroeger (sous chef) and Bradley Waserman (sommelier).  The Point Reyes thumbnail manila clams with prosciutto and grilled bread are SLAMMING, as is the star meyer flip cocktail.  No bad choices on that menu, yum.  See y’all soon.

February 11, 2011

Pork rinds.  Hm.  Kind of have a socioeconomic stigma where I come from–but so do ”git’er done” ballcaps, popped collars, and jeans in church.  But in our constant effort to bring soul food to California (solidarity, Fremont Diner!), I thought we’d fry our own pork skin here at solbar.


February 8, 2011

Chicken and sausage gumbo is on the bar menu, took me about four hours to make it.  A good batch, too, though I had to use red bell peppers instead of green, so it’s a tad sweeter than I prefer.  NO OKRA AND NO GUMBO FILE POWDER!  Both make the stew too mucillagenous for me.  I was offered fried okra at school lunch every day through senior, and my opinion of it hasn’t improved much since then.  A beautiful, mahogany roux is all you need to thicken the gumbo to the perfect degree.

February 5, 2011

At least that’s what I told the 30 hotel guests and members who enjoyed bloody marys, cold beer, and fish tacos by the Solage pool today.


February 3, 2011

Had a great meal sitting at Bar Terra last night, in a room where I’d already had a few formal dinners over the past ten years.  Hiro and Lissa have one of the most beautiful buildings in the Valley as their canvas, and it’s wonderful to see them  move with the times and split up their restaurant so that guests have the choice of a fine-dining experience or a more casual one, prepared with the same great ingredients and attention to detail.


February 1, 2011

(Post #100).

For some of us food is no more fuel—eating as an animal instinct, muscles in need of glycogen.  For others, food may be a vocation, an avocation, an addiction, or, as many highfaluters would have it, art.  Like art, which you can enjoy much more after taking a class in its appreciation, the more you know about food, the more you will like the good stuff, and the less interested you’ll be in eating for fuel alone.  This isn’t snobbery or sophistication, it’s civilization.  In my mind, cavemen painted their cave walls by the light of fires over which they roasted their mastodon meat.


January 28, 2011

Sardines a la plancha, piquillo sofrito, baby fennel, cured mandarinquat, saffron aioli, tiny radish:

young red and white carrots, tiny carrots, green chickpea puree, pretzel-black cumin crust, sausalito springs watercress:

Arriving today are not just “baby” vegetables, but “tiny” vegetables–red onions, radish, carrot.  Ric over at Cook’s promises me that the vegetable part itself will be 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter, with beautiful, edible greens intact.  A few ideas that we’ll be working on:

–Monterey bay sardines a la plancha with cured mandarinquat, piquillo sofrito, tiny radish, and seared baby fennel.  Flavor profile a la valenciana.