Meet Jacob & Fiona, the Dynamic Duo Behind our Restaurant and Garden
Executive Chef Jacob Burrell and Estate Horticulturist Fiona Bond have been together for almost 15 years, working side by side in acclaimed restaurants around the world. They’ve managed kitchens and garden programs from the Michelin starred Manresa in San Jose, to the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur and across the world to Bali.
Now, we’re lucky that they call the Central Coast home. Get to know them a little bit more below!
EXECUTIVE CHEF JACOB BURRELL
What Spring flavors are inspiring you this year?
2022…..year of the Turnip! Besides the usual spring flare of peas, fava beans, lettuces and such I’m back into turnips and sneaking them in things. I’ve revisited a few old favorite French cookbooks and I’ve realized the turnip and rutabaga usage – especially in purées – predated the arrival of the new world potato. History inspo!
Name three kitchen tools that you can’t live without.
Sharp knife, clean hands, intuition.
When/how did you decide to become a Chef?
I was working my way through university taking classes in several different disciplines – everything from chemistry, music theory (despite not being able to play or read music) and Buddhism to coaching basketball. I just came to enjoy everything in bits at a time. The more I cooked, the more I found that a Chef’s profession wrapped all those interests into one – history, culture, math and science, language and communication, teamwork and psychology. The work is as physical as it is mental. It took me a couple more years to work up the courage to get serious and make cooking my life’s work. I left for culinary school in Vermont a couple of years after, already having 10+ years of kitchen experience.
ESTATE HORTICULTURIST FIONA BOND
What are your favorite things to grow in the Spring?
Spring is game time – trays on trays on trays of seedlings! It’s definitely one of my favorite times in the garden; full of plans and possibilities and potential. I do all of my propagation based on the biodynamic planting calendar, so each day has a focus. Leaf crops, flower crops, fruit and seed crops and finally root crops so I try to stick to working with those specific plants on any given day. Outside of the cosmic influences to the plants, it helps me to focus my to-do list so things don’t feel overwhelming — there’s so much to do this time of year!
What should someone look for in the garden on their next visit?
I’ve been working on infrastructure projects this winter – getting our new chicken coop set up, adding trellises and archways for vining plants, building new garden beds, strategically placing the wine barrel planters and more. There are lots of new additions! I’m also adding some lighting so that during the evening events folks feel invited to come see what’s growing. I also definitely encourage guests to poke around in the greenhouse to see what I’m starting for Summer — heirloom tomato seedlings, a variety of tender herbs and medicinal plants and tons of flowering annuals. I love a full greenhouse of little baby plants!!
What kind of estate products are you making during this season?
I’m currently infusing Niner Estate Olive Oil with calendula blossoms to make the next batch of healing salve. There is also a lovely Lavender & Rosemary sugar scrub available — made with whole ground lavender flowers, fresh rosemary and Niner Estate Olive Oil. It’s perfect for exfoliating and nourishing dry Winter hands and feet. The current blend of the Chef’s Garden Salt features ground grapefruit peel from our trees as well as garden thyme — it makes a lovely margarita rim or BBQ rub!
HIS AND HERS
It’s a beautiful Spring Day and you both (miraculously) have the day off. How do you spend your day?
J: 1 part sunshine and exercise; 1 part rest; 1 part family time; 1 part date with Fiona.
F: slow lazy morning, beach with the kiddos and dinner somewhere yummy.
What is your favorite dish that the other person cooks at home?
J: Her Yorkshire puddings! And scallion butter!
F: Jacob makes a killer bacon/mushroom pasta situation that I always eat too much of.
What has been in your wine glass lately?
J: Birichino Pet Nats (their Malvasia Bianca is our favorite), Grenache and Pinot Noirs. We’ve also been making a casual cocktail using Trader Joe’s Simple Times bubbles with a floater of their premixed Negroni (do not sleep on this combination!)
F: We are also fans of Field Recordings Pet Nats, the Blanc de Noirs from Dilecta and Union Sacre Reisling. Since we moved to Paso Robles we’ve been trying to make a point to do more wine tastings around town, so we’re drinking more local wines than international these days. Niner’s Grenache is always in rotation as well!
What music is on your Spring playlist?
J: Sturgill Simpson, Cuttin’ Grass Vol 1; Just discovered Charley Crockett, so currently browsing through his catalog; Trojan reggae compilations.
F: Erykah Badu, Kacey Musgraves, King Tubby, always Zeppelin, Bill Monroe and Doc Watson, Burning Spear, Mac Miller, The Band.
How do you two work together to plan what is grown in the garden?
J: *doesn’t answer*
F: Hah! I’ve been asking Jacob to do our first walkthrough of the garden for months! It’s almost unspoken now – we’ve been doing this in some form or fashion for almost 15 years so the foundation is well established. I know the staples of what he likes, so I always grow Hakurei turnips, baby lettuces, spring onions & French breakfast radishes. We always have at least three seed catalogs and cookbooks laying around the house, so we also find new ideas that way. We’ll also send inspirational posts back and forth on Instagram, or take note of a new ingredient while we’re eating out at dinner.
As a grower, it’s a real dream to work with a Chef who’s aware of the seasons and what’s possible at any given time; nature’s the real boss when it comes to planning!
Explore our Seasonal Menu Offerings
See how Jacob & Fiona’s working relationship comes to life in our restaurant! Our lunch menu changes with the seasons, reflecting what is fresh and vibrant in the garden. Click here to see our current menu »