Guests at the Four Seasons Resort in Napa Valley are about to witness a real-life coming-of-age, hometown hero story come full circle. Chef Rogelio Garcia, a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef who held an executive chef position at Luce and worked his way throughout the Bay Area during COVID-19, is now the opening chef at a debut restaurant, Auro in Calistoga. Returning to wine country for this opportunity was a no-brainer, Garcia says. The cook was raised in Los Angeles and Napa, and authored a cookbook titled Convivir: Modern Mexican Cooking in California’s Wine Country set to release in 2024. “There’s a lot that went into this,” Garcia says. “The menu, the staffing — just leading this is incredible. It’s incredible to be a part of this Four Seasons family, in Napa, in my hometown.”
The restaurant offers a $165 five-course tasting menu that will rotate, but the debut menu includes dry-aged shima aji (Garcia’s favorite item) paired with apple and cilantro, California white duck with dates and baby beets, butter-poached Norwegian crab with carrots and Rose Finn potato, and a titanic Kagoshima A5 wagyu steak with walnut puree and black trumpet mushrooms. One of the initial desserts is a chocolate tart that looks like a sugar-encrusted chunk of a Redwood tree. All of the dishes are in part crafted by chef de cuisine Elijah Cortez (who worked with Garcia at Spruce).
The executive chef says he’s excited to start working with the resort’s partner garden, Triple S Ranch, from which the restaurant will source ingredients. The summer season has come and gone, but Garcia says the produce will come to life a bit in the fall and winter, and very much so in the spring. “We’re not trying to be gardeners, per se,” Garcia says. “We want them to be creative and knowledgeable about the seasons, and them passing those ingredients to us makes the menu much better. English peas, artichokes, fennel, then next summer will be booming.”
Sommelier Derek Stevenson curates a wine list of more than 250 options, leaning into Calistoga area wines as much as he can. Garcia is mighty respectful of both Cortez and Stevenson’s talent and artistry. “Elijah has tenacity, and I’m grateful he can fulfill his dreams,” Garcia says. “Derek is like a wine encyclopedia — he’s incredible. The dedication and passion, and education, is all amazing to see. This new generation rising up to the occasion is so exciting.”
Auro (400 Silverado Trail, Calistoga) is open 5:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The restaurant plans to expand its dinner service to Wednesday through Saturday and introduce lunch service.