Sonoma County Chefs Win Best Cookbook of the Year

Farmer T, Justin, Tracey and Buttercup get the nod for their seasonal Sonoma County recipes

The luxurious “Season: A Year of Wine Country Food, Farming, Family, and Friends” (Cameron + Company) by the chefs at Jackson Family Wines has been giving top honors at the 2019 International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) conference.

Co-written by Executive Chef Justin Wangler, Tracey Shepos Cenami, in partnership with master culinary gardener Tucker Taylor, pastry chef Robert “Buttercup” Nieto and master sommelier Michael Jordan, the book won both “Book of the Year” and a nod for best of “Chefs & Restaurants.”

Structured around seasonal recipes and the year-round growing cycle of Wine Country, the cookbook follows the threads between farm and ranch, kitchen and well-paired wines. What keeps it from being a stuffy tome is the charm of its central characters — Justin , Tracey, Buttercup, and Farmer T — whose side notes and “True Confessions” on each recipe are as personal as their longtime friendships. “My favorite way to serve caviar is with crème fraîche and chives on low-sodium Pringles. Try it before you judge,” writes co-author and executive chef Justin Wangler alongside the recipe for blini with caviar.

“People who visit us are always asking for recipes, they’re enthralled with how we cook,” says Shepos Cenami. As a longtime Sonoma County chef, she knows just about every farmer, cheesemaker, and producer within 100 miles. “We want this to … inspire them to go to local farm markets or even grow their own food,” she says. “Not everyone has the gardens we have, but everyone can get a taste of that.”

The recipes can be ambitious, requiring things like verjus, finishing salts, or sunchokes and referring to Liberty Duck Leg Confit as a “basic.” The K-J team has ready access to the best ingredients in the world and for them, sorrel aioli is a pretty simple recipe. But that’s also a Sonoma idyll — a vision of vineyard farm tables where women in gauzy dresses eat nasturtium leaf salad with local goat cheese in the summer sun. Tuna casserole in the microwave we ain’t.

Congrats to the team!