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Chef Ken Frank to Relocate His La Toque Restaurant in Rutherford,
California to the The Westin Verasa, Napa


Restaurant Will Showcase Chef Frank’s Culinary Artistry, a Truffle Menu,
and Food & Wine Pairings Served in a Warm, Luxurious Atmosphere

NAPA, Calif. - March 3, 2008 - When the Westin Verasa, Napa opens in early Fall 2008, it will elevate downtown Napa dining to an even higher level when Chef Ken Frank, one of America’s most highly acclaimed chefs, brings his legendary La Toque restaurant to the new hotel. While staying true to the celebrated touches for which the restaurant has become known — such as offering one of the few truffle menus in the world — La Toque’s new home will provide a larger culinary playground for Chef Frank with a show kitchen and an expanded menu that will showcase Frank’s passion for fresh, seasonal and often organic cuisine.

Long considered one of the best restaurants in America by critics and food connoisseurs alike, La Toque has earned the praise of Zagat’s guide, captured a prestigious Michelin star, and was named one of “America’s Best Restaurants” by The Wine Spectator magazine. La Toque is equally recognized for its unpretentious and friendly wait staff and extensive selection of fine wine.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to welcome Chef Frank and La Toque to the Westin Verasa,” said Joe Walsh, Vice President of Development, Intrawest Placemaking, who worked with Ken Frank on the move to Napa. “La Toque is one of the premier restaurants in the United States, and Ken’s reputation and commitment will define an unparalleled culinary experience for our guests.”

Like the current location in Napa Valley’s Rutherford, the new La Toque at the Westin Verasa will reflect Frank’s thorough grounding in French cuisine developed when he was a teenager. When Frank was 16, his father went on sabbatical and moved his family from Pasadena to Yvoire, a small 16th century walled village on the French side of Lake Geneva. At the end of the year, when his family returned home, Frank wanted to remain. His parents agreed as long as he found a job and a place to live. He found a job as a dishwasher at a local restaurant and developed an appreciation for richly flavored country food — seafood, stews, roasts, sausages, farm-fresh vegetables and artisan cheeses, crusty breads and intriguing desserts.

At La Toque, diners will savor exquisite examples of Frank’s French cuisine, a style for which he has become world renowned in his 35 years as a chef. His style embraces a philosophy that he developed decades ago as one of the first young American chefs to focus on fresh, seasonal, quality ingredients. The restaurant’s extensive wine list complements Frank’s cuisine and resident sommelier Scott Tracy has become known for his wine and food pairings.

“Using only the freshest, finest ingredients in season prepared in creative, delicious ways has always been the center of who I am and what I do,” said Chef Frank. “Indeed that has now become the core of what great cooking in America is all about.”

Chef Ken Frank of La Toque celebrates his pending move to Westin Verasa, Napa by sabering a magnum of champagne. Napa Mayor Jill Techel looks on. (Photo: Business Wire)

When the new La Toque location opens, Chef Frank’s culinary creations will be served in a warm, luxurious atmosphere created by one of the most noted restaurant design firms in the country, CCS Architecture. Understated and classically luxurious, La Toque will provide plenty of opportunity for diners to observe the hustle and bustle of the kitchen beyond, with and abundance of glass panes and a glass-backed liquor cabinet in the bar through which guests will view the kitchen activity. The back-to-back fireplace, constructed of stone on the interior and Cor-Ten steel on the exterior patio dining area, will serve as another focal point in the restaurant. Ebonized oak floating booths that sit away from the walls, and light fixtures made from textured art glass, will add to the ambiance.

The simple yet luxurious ambiance of the new La Toque in the Westin Verasa will serve as an ideal showcase for a chef whose highly acclaimed career spans more than three decades. At only 21, as head chef at La Guillotine on the Sunset Strip, he earned the praises of food critics from the Los Angeles Times and New West magazine for introducing fresh vegetables, fruit and fish at a time when many restaurants used frozen or canned items. Chef Frank’s devotion to fresh ingredients and his ability to prepare exquisite sauces followed him as he leant his talents to a number of other restaurants. In 1979, Frank was the original chef at Michael’s restaurant in Santa Monica, now considered to be the Los Angeles birthplace of “California Cuisine.” Not long after, Frank opened the original La Toque on the site of what used to be La Guillotine and again earned a strong following of food connoisseurs and extensive praise from Gourmet magazine’s food critic. By May 1980, other chefs also admired Frank’s style with Chef Michel Richard, current owner of Citronelle in Washington, D.C. proclaiming, “Ken was the first young American chef that I met who was capable of cooking like the greatest French chefs.”

Chef Frank’s Napa Valley La Toque celebrates its tenth anniversary in September 1998, coinciding with its move to the Westin Verasa. The move is a perfect fit for Frank’s plans to host “lifestyle experiences” revolving around single ingredients or specialties. Each January he plans to host a “Truffle Camp,” a package that includes overnight stays at the Westin, truffle cooking lessons, and winery visits.

“We aim to make Westin Verasa the go-to wine and food destination in Napa Valley,” ads Chef Frank. “Downtown Napa is going to become the destination in Napa Valley in the next 10 years and we’ll be right at the heart of it.”

The Westin Verasa, Napa and La Toque’s new location are currently planning for an early fall opening. 


La Toque


Also See: Starwood Hotels and Intrawest Planning the Westin Verasa Napa, a 160-unit Condominium Hotel located in Downtown Napa, California; The Hotel Will be Managed by Intrawest's Hospitality Management Division / August 2006


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