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Meadowood Fans Flood Social Media With Memories and Grief

Chefs like Dominique Crenn, Mourad Lahlou, and Katianna Hong turned to Instagram to eulogize the three-Michelin-starred restaurant, which was destroyed by a fast-moving fire

Cluster Of Destructive Wildfires Burns Through Napa And Sonoma Counties In California
Burned service vehicles sit in a parking lot at Meadowood Napa Valley luxury resort after the Glass Incident Fire moved through the area on September 28, 2020 in St. Helena, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

For the latest on the Glass Incident Fire, go here.

It was the image seen round the food world. Long before there was any sort of official confirmation, a photo taken by reporter Adam Housley made the social media rounds. It showed the Restaurant at Meadowood (also known as TRAM), a three-Michelin-starred fine dining destination at St. Helena’s Meadowood resort, on fire. The caption read “I just left there...they couldn’t save it.”

Meadowood management had been evacuated as the Glass Incident Fire, a blaze that ignited on the Napa/Sonoma border just the day before, grew close. They urged folks not to jump to conclusions, and said that they would know more the next day. But based on Housley’s photo, the situation was bleak.

By late Monday, September 28, media outlets had photos of what was left of the restaurant building (it also housed the Meadowood Grill and a small golf shop) on hand. It is a total loss of the space. But while Brett Anderson, a spokesperson for the owners, says that the TRAM will be rebuilt, some of the most prominent members of the restaurant are still taking a pause to mourn what has been lost.

Christopher Kostow, who’s been Meadowood’s chef for over 10 years, wrote in part that “We are all torn apart. A Eulogy is deserved, and will be given in due time.” His words were quoted by the TRAM’s official account, as well.

Aziza and Mourad founder and chef Mourad Lahlou posted Housley’s original photo, writing in part that “my heart is broken. another icon fell. so many dreams. so much work.”

Nicholas Elmi, a Top Chef contender and Philadelphia restaurateur, wrote “The tragedy that is unfolding on the west coast is harrowing as we’ve just lost one of, if not the best restaurants in America.”

Kyle Connaughton, the co-owner of Meadowood Napa neighbor SingleThread, wrote that he is “devastated by the news of the tragic loss,“ and called out Kostow for “all the work he’s done for fire relief these past several years,” as “he and the TRAMily have been incredibly giving in others’ time of need.”

Daniel Patterson. of Coi and Alta fame, wrote “So awful. So unimaginable.”

Fabian von Hauske, the chef/co-owner of New York restaurants Contra and Wildair, writes, “I have no doubt that you will come back to the top my dear friend but I just wanted to thank you and everyone for making us part of your family.”

Katianna Hong, the former chef de cuisine at TRAM, wrote “Lost for words and heartbroken.”

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Lost for words and heartbroken

A post shared by Katianna Hong (@katiannahong) on

Not a chef, but a prominent food figure regardless: Chris Ying, the co-founder of seminal magazine about eating, Lucky Peach, wrote: “I had some of the best and most memorable times of my life at this restaurant. I can’t bear to see photos of it burning.”

Famed chef Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn, Petit Crenn, and so on) leveraged the moment to discuss the climate crisis with her 316,000 followers. “Let’s wake up,” she wrote alongside Housley’s photo. “Climate change is real ... the planet is burning ... we need leaders and community leaders that will get humanity back.” Many of her followers took issue with her politicizing the fire, but such is the way of social media.

To read more tributes to the restaurant, one need only click on the restaurant’s location tag on Instagram since Monday afternoon. Hundreds of tributes have been posted, many recalling engagements, birthdays, and other happy occasions spent in its dining room.

But for all the sadness and frustration — all justified — there’s also the good news that what was lost was a building, and stuff. Speaking with the Bay Area news Group, Anderson puts the loss into perspective, saying that though the loss of property was “distressing ... Meadowood has always been about the people.” And of this response on social media is any indication, those people are reaady to do whatever it takes to help TRAM rise again.

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