Wine Country Personality: Executive Chef Antonio Ghilarducci

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Antonio Ghilarducci, the son of owners Mike and Gia Ghilarducci will be permanently joining the team at the Depot Hotel as Executive Chef.  As a young boy Antonio often helped his father in the kitchen and often returned over the years to work special functions.

Antonio graduated high school in 2000 from Justin-Siena in Napa and moved to San Jose to study at San Jose State University.  Before long, Antonio began working in the kitchens at the university, cooking for faculty and students there.  Cooking quickly became more important than academics and he left both to study at San Francisco City College in the Culinary Arts Department.  This is the oldest cooking school on the West Coast and the same school that his father attended thirty years earlier.  He graduated among the top five in his class in 2002 and obtained his Associates Degree in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Studies.

 During his school years, he had the opportunity to cook in France for a group of Americans with Chef Jacques Pepin.  Chef Pepin took a liking to Antonio and gave him a recommendation for an internship with Roland Passot of the famous La Folie and Left Bank restaurants.  Antonio eventually left La Folie, having worked in Garde Manger, Hot Appetizers and Pastry stations.  He moved to Napa to pursue a job with the newly opened Angele under Chef Christophe Gerard as a Chef de Partie.  

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Antonio remained there for a year before taking a job at The French Laundry again as a Chef de Partie under Chef Thomas Keller.  After six months at the French Laundry, one of the Sous Chefs, Ryan Fancher left the French Laundry to open El Dorado Kitchen in Sonoma.  Antonio came with him as Lead Line Cook to open the new restaurant.

After two years, Antonio felt he needed to take a management position and worked as Sous Chef and later, Chef de Cuisine at Shiso restaurant in Sonoma.  After Shiso, Antonio took some time off to start a website, www.thecelerybranch.com, about food and cooking, which he still operates.  Now, he has come full circle back to the place he grew up.  He is looking forward to cooking and teaching--combining his unique culinary experience with the rustic, Tuscan cuisine of the Depot Hotel.

Antonio has created a lively new  Vinoteca antipasto bar at the Depot Hotel--with small plates of Tuscan delicacies and great local Sonoma Valley wines.  He is also creating a new series of Cooking Classes and also a series of special Private Cellar Dinners where guests may bring their own wines (no corkage!) but enjoy great cuisine.  His greatest enthusiasm is for creating new dishes in the kitchen to go on the menu--which changes daily.

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