Duskie Estes and John Stewart
Duskie Estes began cooking at the age of five in her EZ-Bake oven. She is a graduate of Brown University. Growing up in San Francisco, she fell in love with everything restaurant through her weekly Wednesday night dinners out with her father. She worked at Lucky's/Al Forno (Rhode Island), 21 Federal and Kinkead's (Washington DC), Green's and Glide Church (San Francisco), Baywolf (Oakland), Share Our Strength (Washington DC and Seattle), and Dahlia Lounge, Etta's Seafood, and Palace Kitchen (Seattle, WA.). During her two year tenure as chef of Palace Kitchen, she was voted City Search's Seattle Best Chef in 2000. Under her leadership, Palace Kitchen was rated by Gourmet magazine as one of the top five Seattle restaurants in 2000 and in the nation's top 50 restaurants in 2001. She was coauthor on Tom Douglas's Seattle Kitchen, which received the James Beard Award in 2001.
John Stewart is from Mt. Kisco, New York and grew up in the kitchen of his family's four generation catering company, Thomas Fox and Sons, founded in 1919 by his great grandfather. By the age of 7, he was polishing silver, folding pastry boxes, and icing petit fours with his grandmother. In this environment, John learned fundamental cooking techniques and a strong connection between family and food. Relocating to Seattle in 1994, John worked at Etta's Seafood and Palace Kitchen, where he met Duskie. He then became sous chef at the well-known Cafe Lago, and fell deeply in love with all things Italian. John could easily resonate with the Italian generosity of spirit, the connection between food and family, and the inclination not to waste a morsel (aka the "snout to tail" philosophy). John is a 1990 graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder and now a blossoming chicken, pig, goat, turkey, and rabbit rancher. The resulting eggs can be found in the pasta at ZAZU restaurant + farm. John is an avid salumist studying with Chef Mario Batali and at the University of Iowa Meat Lab. He is responsible for their line of BLACK PIG meats, bacon & salumi made from pasture raised, heritage breed, antibiotic and hormone free pork. In 2009, Rachel Ray picked their BLACK PIG Bacon for her holiday gift giving guide and Men's Journal named it one of the TOP BACON's in 2010.
In 2001, Duskie and John opened ZAZU restaurant + farm in Santa Rosa. ZAZU was named a TOP 10 best new restaurant of 2002 and was listed in the San Francisco Chronicle's TOP 100 restaurants in 2003, 2004, and 2005. ZAZU was also rated in the TOP 10 Italian Restaurants in Northern California by ZAGAT and TOP 50 restaurants in the Bay Area by San Francisco Magazine. In 2008, 2009, and 2010, ZAZU was included in the San Francisco Michelin guide as an Inspectors Favorite for value, receiving a "Bib Gourmand". In 2009, Duskie & John received the Rising Star Chef Awards for Sustainability. Together, they were crowned "KING & QUEEN of PORC" at the Grand Cochon at Aspen Food & Wine 2011.
Duskie & John released their first wine in 2005, Holdredge Schiopettino, MacBryde Vineyard, which can be found exclusively at ZAZU and The French Laundry. The grapes received tender care and attention from their babydoll sheep, Pickles & Pancake. Recently the vineyard had to be torn out, because of Duskie & John's unwillingness to spray near their family, so the family decided to build the "Pig Palace", put in a fruit orchard, and to learn about animal husbandry crossing two of the rarest breeds: a red wattle with a mulefoot. In addition, they are making their own wine with Thomas George Estates: BLACK PIG PINOT, BLANC PIG, and PINK PIG available at both restaurants and online.
In 2007, Duskie and John were fortunate to be on the cover of Wine Spectator. They are also among those featured in the California Commercial with Thomas Keller, Doug Keene, Suzanne Goin, and Guy Fieri. Duskie was a fierce competitor on the Food Network's Next Iron Chef, season 3. They have also been featured on P.B.S.'s Chef A Field and on Emeril Green. Both restaurants have been included in Gourmet, Food & Wine, Sunset, Every Day with Rachel Ray, Wine Spectator, Bon Appetit, Art Culinaire, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Press Democrat, Travel + Leisure, USA Today, Food Arts, San Francisco Magazine, Hemisphere, Zagat, Elle (Japan & Mexico), Marie Claire, Luxury, Los Angeles Times, Michelin and more. You can catch Duskie in the ZAZU garden before service gathering fava leaves or squash blossoms with her two little girls.
Besides these successful restaurant+ joint ventures, Duskie and John, married in California wine country in 2000, are the proud parents of Brydie and MacKenzie Estes Stewart, born in 2001 and 2002 respectively.