The Clever Root

Spring / Summer 2016

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2 8 | t h e c l e v e r r o o t OPENING THIS SUMMER IN HEALDSBURG, CA, Single Thread Farms, a farm/restaurant/ inn project by industry vets Kyle and Katina Connaughton, is looking to elevate the farm- to-table restaurant concept by emphasizing leisurely enjoyment of a great meal and deep- rooted ingredients with a personal connection. Destined for Michelin stars with pedigreed Kyle at the helm—his resume includes The Fat Duck in the U.K. as well as time at Spago Beverly Hills, The Ritz-Carlton and Lucques in L.A.—the overall concept draws from the remarkable experiences the couple enjoyed during their time in Japan, where Kyle worked under famed French chef Michel Bras. Taking a cue from the Japanese, at Single Thread Farms Kyle and Katina strive to implement a fluid and relaxing dining experience. This exercise in culinary relaxation begins on the rooftop, surrounded by gardens. "It takes a while to decompress," shares Katina. The idea here is that by spending 30-40 minutes unwind- ing in natural surroundings, the rest of the evening will be enhanced. "The rooftop gardens also allow us to bring as much of the farm to the property as possible," says Katina, who strives to connect the farm to the restaurant in more ways than what's on the plate. The farm lies alongside the Russian River, mere miles from the restaurant. In addition to an heirloom orchard, two beehives and chick- ens, Katina is experimenting with Japanese crops consistently used in the kitchen, such as myoga (ginger) and kujo negi (scallions), which are "not an easy task to grow here," she admits. She employs the Japanese concept of shun in her farming: Operating within 72, 5-day farming cycles, Katina harvests when each plant is at the apex of flavor, at its shun. This method of farming requires close dialogue between the farm and restaurant in order to determine which ingredients to highlight and when. Each dinner is booked two months in advance using the Tock ticket-reservation sys- tem, and guests are offered a choice between an 11-course omnivore, pescatarian or vegetar- ian menu. With only one booking per table each night, the pace of the evening is controlled by the diners. The idea is to feel completely relaxed—and completely taken care of—as if it were your best friends or family spoiling you. For Kyle and Katina, integrity is at the heart of every ingredient they choose to use: "We make it, or we are closely affiliated with the ar- tisan," says Kyle. He employs porous Japanese earthenware from eighth-generation producers in the kitchen. Katina plants Japanese plants in an unfamiliar climate to make her crops personal, connected. "It's tying in agriculture, dining, hospitality, craftsmanship together into one experience." That is the single thread. TYING TOGETHER FIELD AND FORK At Single Thread Farms, Chef Kyle Connaughton will oversee the restaurant while wife Katina man- ages the farm. PHOTO: JASON JAACKS Single Thread Farms: by Allyson Gorsuch � ■cr

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