Big Changes at Applewood Inn: New Chef, Management

Big name chef coming to a revamped concept at the Applewood Inn

Hold onto your plates, cause things are about to get really interesting out in West County.

BiteClub just found out that Chef Ben Spiegel has been named as the new chef at the Applewood Inn, as they prepare to open “Revival”, a new restaurant concept at the luxury spa and inn. It’s also been announced that the inn’s management has been turned over to EpiSoul, under the direction of Ric Pielstick. The restaurant is slated to open in mid-July.

Spiegel is a big name in food, hailing from Canada and making at name at Willows in on Lummi Island, then moving to NYC’s Skal (an Icelandic-inspired restaurant). He’s been working in Sonoma County recently on an event and dinner project called Whitefish. According to his bio, Spiegel has also has worked in restaurants across Europe including time spent at noma and AOC in Copenhagen, Denmark. In addition, he has interned in Kyoto, Japan,  France’s Loire Valley, Reykjavik, Iceland and London, England. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Ben grew up cooking in some of the city’s top restaurants before moving abroad. He is passionate about local food issues, sustainable agriculture and foraging wild foods.

Details are still a bit sketchy on the direction of the new restaurant, as well as menus, but Spiegel has been posting for front and back of house positions for the new restaurant.

Chef Ben Spiegel, courtesy of Facebook
Chef Ben Spiegel, courtesy of Facebook

The restaurant at Applewood shuttered last year just eight months after Sonoma chef Jamil Peden took over the historic kitchens. Biteclub documented his efforts to restore the kitchen to some of its former glory, and Peden did receive critical acclaim during his stint.

The once-stellar Michelin-starred restaurant had been an incubator for a number of outstanding young chefs including SF Chef Brian Gerritsen, David Frakes (Lynmar), Brian Anderson (Bistro 29) Bruce Frieseke (County Bench), Ty Taube (forageSF) and Shelly Cerneant (Sonoma Country Day School) .

Frieseke captured a Michelin star for the restaurant in 2011 and co-executive chefs Taube and Cerneant received a star in 2012. Cerneant was one of only ten women chefs in the world to earn a Michelin star in 2012.

The restaurant’s former management had planned a casual dining concept for May 2016, which never materialized.


12 thoughts on “Big Changes at Applewood Inn: New Chef, Management

  1. What’s with folks wanting to pick flyscat out of peppercorns with this story? If you have personal interest in it’s history, disclose it already. Here’s my takeaway:

    1) Applewood Inn has a new chef; a really good new chef; and can think about re-opening.
    2) There’s a new management team for the whole inn as well as the restaurant.
    3) the prior chefs were critically acclaimed (did good), and are still around (Bistro 29 has great crepes BTW).
    4) The restaurants former management wanted casual dining, but it didn’t happen.
    5) The location of Applewood Inn is a secret, unless you try to find it.

    The story wasn’t about why prior management took a dump on a great dining place, but about what’s going to happen next (admission: I ate there once, and really, really wish I had eaten there four times. The food was really good).

    1. Respect is what propels a chef that’s all I’m trying to point out. Hope all the best for Applewood.

      1. With people, it’s always about respect. It propels chefs, and also waiters, washers, diners, writers and readers too. Everybody has to scrub something to make a living.

  2. Also, you are wrong about “years of chef shuffles”….Bruce trained two highly competent chefs when he left for Bella, and they stayed there for years. Man, you are really loose with your facts.

    1. I’m not disparaging Bruce’s replacements, but I can say that there were at least two chefs I knew about, and I believe there was a very short-lived third just before Jamil came on. I’d call losing the star and going through at least three chefs in three years “shuffling”. Frankly, I’m just happy that it’s not becoming a buffet or whatever it was supposed to become after Peden left. I can’t wait to see what’s next. Applewood SHOULD be destination dining.

      1. Again, you are wrong the 2012 star was awarded after Bruce left mid year. The stars were given to the co-executive chefs. I also find it interesting that you don’t even know who they are despite being featured in the PD.

        1. Ty Taube and Shelly Cerneant were the co-executive chefs. I did not get to meet either of them, and for that I’m sad. Especially with Cerneant, considering her position as a woman chef.

          I have changed the article to reflect their contributions and appreciate your pointing out the omission.

  3. hmmmm You should check your facts as why the restaurant “shuttered” it was more because the OWNER couldnt handle what he got himself into and wanted to go buffet style

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