Chef Philip Tessier’s innovative culinary creations have earned his restaurant Press in Napa Valley a coveted Michelin star in December. It’s not the first time the charming chef and author is in the spotlight. He is renowned in the culinary world for leading the first American team to win the silver medal at the prestigious international cooking competition, Bocuse d’Or in 2015. Two years later, Tessier coached Team USA to their first glorious gold medal. He also wrote about the exciting journey which was published in a beautiful coffee table book called “Chasing Bocuse.”
Since joining Press restaurant in 2019 as the Executive Chef and partner, Tessier’s talent and leadership have attracted a loyal team who have worked with him at famed restaurants from Le Bernadine, Alinea, to the French Laundry and Bouchon. Tessier’s first steps were remodeling Press’ kitchen and transitioning the former steakhouse to a refined, modern American cuisine to complement the restaurant’s renowned wine collection. Press boasts the largest collection of Napa wines in the world with more than 10,000 bottles– some dating back to 1960s. It’s no surprise then that Press’ expert sommelier Vincent Morrow, who oversees their extensive wine offerings, also won the prestigious Michelin Sommelier Award the same year. I stopped by on a rainy weeknight. Despite the downpour, the spacious restaurant was packed with guests waiting at the bar and standing in small groups by the entrance. The ambiance is laid-back luxury with high beam ceilings resembling an elegant barn with rows of white lights dangling from above. Tessier is devout when it comes to foraging homegrown ingredients from their own farm and working with top local vendors for their meats and seafood. The results are the sumptuous dishes featured on Press’ exquisite seasonal menu. AsiamLuxe.com speaks with the distinguished chef about his business philosophy and some exciting events coming up at his Michelin-starred restaurant.
Please tell us your philosophy behind Press restaurant? Do you have a signature dish?
We have been in a constant state of transformation and evolution since the first day I arrived at Press and much of our progress has been built around the dynamic team we have assembled over the past several years. We are excited to continue pushing forward and elevating the guest experience while maintaining a sense of approachability, simplicity and refinement in all that we do.
Our truffle-glazed chicken really epitomizes our philosophy of taking quality ingredients and elevating them through technique and creativity, producing a dish that is unexpected for our guests both in terms of its presentation and flavor.
You hired a team of esteemed chefs and crew who have worked with you at famed restaurants such as Chicago’s Alinea and The French Laundry. Tell us about this.
Honestly, a lot of our team has shifted with the times from looking outside the restaurant for established cooks and chefs to a more homegrown approach, largely built on the local culinary students coming from my alma mater, the CIA. We additionally have several past and future members of the Bocuse d’Or USA team working with us to continue to develop their skills and experience.
Social media, the Internet, and the popularity of television cooking shows have certainly helped fuel the interests in food and cooking. What are your thoughts on social media and the surge of “celebrity” chefs?
There are always positives and negatives from this type of “celebrity” in any discipline. On the one hand it brings attention and an excitement to what we do as chefs, but on the other hand it can present a misconstrued perception of our craft, the hospitality industry and us as professionals. Overall, however, I think the impact has been positive as it has increased the awareness and interest of the general public in food and cooking ever since the early shows of the 2000’s arrived such as Iron Chef, Top Chef, etc.
I would love to see more of the Chef’s Table type series that really explore cuisine at its highest level and increase the appreciation for our craft and those behind its evolution and progress.
Please tell us about some exciting events coming up at PRESS restaurant.
We are excited for the possibilities for 2023 as we begin the year with a refresh of the dining room, bringing a more modern, lighter feel to the room. Napaulée has been a huge success and we’re continually looking at how we can expand this event as well as other wine-driven events such as the Special Club dinner we hosted at the end of 2022.
Napaulée is Press’ annual end of harvest celebration where we invoke the traditions of La Paulée. It’s the time-honored Burgundian end of harvest celebration and the “world’s classiest BYOB party”. One hundred percent of the Napaulée ticket purchase is donated to local charities. We will see where 2023 takes us as we continue to grow together as a team here at Press.
We also asked Chef Tessier to describe the new cocktail and multi-course tasting menu they recently unveiled.
Our cocktail program follows closely along the lines of our cuisine, taking inspiration from the farmers and gardeners we work closely with and evolving with the seasons, allowing us to capture a sense of time and place.
The tasting menu will provide us with a new canvas to enhance the guest experience at Press and provide a more curated experience for guests who are looking for a more relaxed pace of service. We are also excited for the opportunity to showcase the diversity of Napa wines and expand the guests experience of the Valley through both the cuisine and wine.
Photos by John Troxell courtesy of Press. Chef’s portrait by Nader Khouri.