Today the Times checks in on the Cellar Door Café, the rather ambitious restaurant that winemaker Randall Grahm created so that he could feed his wine tasting customers at Bonny Doon Vineyard outside Santa Cruz. Chef Charlie Parker, who was recommended by consulting chef David Kinch — Parker was a sous chef at Manresa and later at Ubuntu, before putting in some time at Noma in Copenhagen as well — is just as careful with the composition of his plates as mentors Kinch and Jeremy Fox. While appreciating Parker’s pedigree and talent, Grahm would “like to see him delegate more so we can get the food out faster. He doesn’t have to arrange every leaf of parsley.”
The tension between owner and chef continues when it comes to Grahm’s big goal for the Cellar Door Café: communal eating. “Randall was talking about sharing a plate with random people, and this goes on for half an hour,” Parker says. This is an innovation Kinch won’t stand for either. “You can tell Randall I rolled my eyes,” he says.