Bryan Moscatello, previously the executive chef at Aspen's five-star, five-diamond hotel The Little Nell, has headed even further West. The chef has taken the position of executive chef at the posh Auberge property, Calistoga Ranch, overseeing The Lakehouse restaurant, and all dining at the resort.
Moscatello says that a recent vacation to Napa Valley with his wife was part of the catalyst that led to the Westward move, as well as the opportunity to work past coworkers from the Little Nell who've also migrated to the Valley. "Napa is food and wine central," said Moscatello. "It's what is near and dear to my heart, and this environment is more conducive to my career goals and education, in terms of the amazing culinary gardens out here."
The chef, who was with The Little Nell from 1992-2000, spent time in Chicago at Storefront Company, Bistro Toujours, Levy Restaurants in Deer Valley and as executive chef at Stir Food Group in Washington, D.C., before coming full circle with a return to the hotel in 2013. As far as his recent departure from Aspen, also a playground for food, wine and high rollers, Moscatello says that the environments are very different.
"In Napa, the people are here to dine and taste wine...they're not distracted by powder days."
Moscatello plans to focus his new menu on the bounty of products from the area and simple techniques, developing complexity by utilizing multiple layers of the same flavor (imagine a really gorgeous tomato served five ways). Given the great produce all around, the chef plans to keep things vegetable-based (though there will be proteins, too, eventually planning the menu around the culinary gardens he plans to develop on the 157-acre Calistoga Ranch property. "One of the best parts of being here is the ability to control and dictate your menu based on what's in season, and there's always something in season," explained Moscatello. "You can grow things year round and set it up to plan what you'll be serving every month."
The chef has only been in Napa for about eight days total, so expect a fully developed menu to roll out by the end of July. And though the Calistoga Ranch property is technically private (meaning only guests and those they invite can drop in for a meal), Moscatello plans to dive into the Napa dining scene with hopes of doing some dinners and collaborations with other talented chefs in the area.