Sonoma’s Latest on the Restaurant Scene: zazu kitchen + farm

Duskie & Johnzazu… a charming but cramped diner housed in a (purportedly) former chicken coop, with a kitchen barely big enough to cook in.  Located in Sonoma County wine country, it’s the life-work of Next Iron Chef contestant Duskie Estes and husband, salumi artisan John Stewart.  Yes, you read that correctly… salumi artisan. Despite the challenges inherent in the original zazu, Duskie and John have earned tons of awards and recognition for their food and their food ethics (King and Queen of Pork at Aspen, multiple appearances on The Next Iron Chef, named a Michelin good value spot).
Well, now the couple has a new restaurant on the way, zazu kitchen + farm in the town of Sebastopol, and we see this culinary couple and their evolution as one that thinking eaters will embrace. Their new digs will be located at The Barlow, an old apple cannery in Sebastopol now being revived as the first business community in the U.S. to connect people with not only the finest Sonoma County products and the inspired people who make them, but also directly with the act of food production itself, all in one place. In Duskie’s words, The Barlow will be a sanctuary for “makers” including brewers, wineries, a coffee roaster, butcher and baker, a craft distiller, cheesemakers, farmers, and fishmongers.  Handmade soaps and candles will be crafted onsite, and bocce ball courts and fire pits will invite the community to gather to share food, wine, art, and time together.
One of the coolest parts about the new zazu?  Diners interested in the farm-to-table experience are invited to pick some of their own organic ingredients before dinner, in what Duskie calls “U-PICK”. Duskie’s and John’s farm-to-table ethos will play out as families and friends play a starring role in the creation of their own meal.
Duskie Estes
zazu kitchen + farm will feature Duskie’s dream kitchen, where she and John can both work in the same place at the same time, making zazu’s farm-to-table plates and John’s Black Pig bacon and salumi, plus their famous gelati.  The new restaurant will also feature a full bar offering farm-artisan cocktails and signature snacks like chicharrone peanut butter cups and black pig bacon caramel corn. They had me at bacon and caramel.
Another positive thing to note?
Duskie and John are chefs and ethical butchers, who champion the humane treatment of the animals they butcher and the meat they serve in their restaurant, insisting on using the whole animal “snout to tail,” including the cheaper cuts which nevertheless emerge from their kitchen as authentically gourmet. Duskie and John are as fun and playful as they are passionate about food, family and farming.

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