Chinese megalopolis Shenzhen is getting a taste of Northern California luxury courtesy of chef Christopher Kostow, the force behind the three-Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood. Kostow’s new project, which follows his more casual St. Helena business, the Charter Oak, opens in Shenzhen this weekend. It’s called Ensue, and here’s how it came to be, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.
Ricky Li, a 26-year-old whose family owns Chinese investment firm the Dingyi Group, is the vision — and $7 million in capital — behind Ensue. Although capitalism has flourished in China’s booming special economic zone, Li laments that no high-end restaurants have yet taken root in Shenzhen. To change that, Li consulted with the brothers behind Seattle restaurant Canlis, a favorite destination of his, and out of 40 chefs interviewed, they decided that Kostow was right for the task.
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Thrilled to officially announce opening a bit to the East of Napa Valley. @ensue_sz has been an ambitious collaboration between an insanely talented group of young industry pros. @chef.smiles and team have been working hard on this for some time- melding Cali with a bit of southern China- exploring the products and traditions here. @chrisshaostudio @steph.rizzardi thank you for being so hands-on this project. @martinalainu no words for all that you do. @rickyli3 and Adward this should be quite a ride! Link to more details in bio @wsjmag @howiekahn @cknutsen99 : @kellypuleio @tc.production
At Ensue, Kostow’s team will serve five or nine-course tasting menus “melding Cali with a bit of southern China.” Consultant Agnes Chee, a cookbook author and food critic, has reportedly helped guide Kostow’s cooking in the new market.
“Ingredients and simplicity are drivers of both cuisines,” says Kostow — but he’s shifting his emphasis to more aromatics and delicate preparations, he tells the WSJ. Ensue’s dishes include lap cheong sausage en croute and river eel from Guangdong that’s smoked over green tea leave. Kostow is also doing his Napa winemaking friends a solid, vowing to introduce Napa wines to a big new market — tariffs be damned.
Chris Shao Studio designed the new restaurant, which certainly looks up to the task of conveying capitalist California opulence. And for diners more likely to visit Kostow in Napa than China, there’s relevance to the new project, too. Kostow tells the Journal that, although the task was originally the reverse, China will influence his cooking at Meadowood more than Meadowood will influence how he cooks in China.
- When Napa Valley Cuisine Goes to China [Wall Street Journal]