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Balboa Cafe Mill Valley Announces New Exec Chef Howard Ko

Balboa Cafe Mill Valley Announces New Executive Chef Howard Ko
Critically Acclaimed Chef Brings Impressive Culinary Background,
Local and Seasonal Focus to New Role

MILL VALLEY, Calif. – PlumpJack is excited to announce the appointment of Howard Ko to the position of executive chef at the Balboa Cafe Mill Valley, known for classic American bistro cuisine with an emphasis on fresh, locally sourced ingredients.  Ko has worked at some of the most critically acclaimed culinary establishments in the United States, including The Restaurant at Meadowood with Christopher Kostow and The French Laundry with Thomas Keller, as well as Goose & Gander in St. Helena, Melisse in Los Angeles, Hanilkwan in Osaka, and DB Bistro Moderne, Picholine and Daniel in New York.

“It is a privilege to welcome distinguished Chef Ko to the Balboa Cafe Mill Valley,” said Hilary Newsom.  “He brings a wealth of knowledge having worked at award-winning restaurants across the country and around the world, and we’re thrilled to bring his expertise to the restaurant’s culinary program.”

Ko began his career in Los Angeles, mastering the art of pastry making and baking before relocating to New York to attend the Culinary Institute of America.  As a student at the CIA, Ko assisted at Daniel on weekends to gain experience in the kitchen, doing everything from peeling potatoes to cleaning mushrooms.

Making the move to Wine Country as chef de partie at The French Laundry in Yountville, Ko worked the line and focused on creating new dishes for the daily changing menu.  From there he joined acclaimed chef Christopher Kostow at three Michelin-starred The Restaurant at Meadowood as chef de partie, where he assisted at all stations and mentored the commis.
Ko accepted a position as chef de cuisine at his third Wine Country restaurant, Goose & Gander in St. Helena, where he ran the kitchen and was responsible for putting a dramatic spin on the neighborhood eatery.  Ko also introduced a shared-plates concept, new flavors, and new techniques with the goal of bringing people together to taste different flavors.

As executive chef at Balboa Cafe Mill Valley, Ko will serve a seasonal menu with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients, taking advantage of all that Northern California has to offer.  The menu will consist of market-driven bistro classics with modern twists.

Balboa Cafe Mill Valley is located at 38 Miller Avenue in the historic downtown Mill Valley.  For more information, please visit www.BalboaCafe.com.  For more information about The PlumpJack Group, please visit www.PlumpJack.com.


Conversations with Hilary: Chef Dominique Crenn

Dominique Crenn, Executive Chef and owner of the award-winning Atelier Crenn, is a true inspiration to women and chef’s alike. She is the first female chef in the U.S. to be awarded 2 Michelin Stars and she has held those stars since 2012. Being a woman in a leadership role and having two daughters, I celebrate women like Dominique who are innovators, leaders, and role models for young girls, and boys for that matter. Like the food she prepares, her answers were very thoughtful, creative, and insightful.

What do you believe to be your greatest accomplishment?
Being able to touch people doing what I love to do.

Do you have a prized possession?
My kindness. I think that people often think of an object for such a question however for me I have very few objects yet have spent my life working on what I think is important with regard to how I interact with others.

What qualities do you think others love about you?
I’m playful and kind.

If you could do anything other than what you currently do, what would it be?

What do you like most about what you do for a living/career?
I am a creative and am appreciated for being a creative, and am able to touch people with my creations.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
I review my dreams.

What’s your favorite thing to do on a Friday night?
I am with my guests at the restaurant and if I’m not there, I am often at a charity event as I am so inspired when I get to participate in bringing people together in the name of doing good for others. I love the people I meet, the stories I hear and later, the results of all of our efforts in helping those who need to be supported.

What were you passionate about in your younger years growing up?
I loved soccer, Adidas sneakers, and talking with my dad as we walked the sand dunes of Brittany.

What are you passionate about now?
Pushing myself to delve into the deepest parts of my creative calling.

What’s your favorite season and why?
Oh wow…that is a tough one for me as all seasons offer new foods with which I get to work. If pressed, I must choose summer due to my absolute love affair with the tomato.

If you were a cocktail or a drink what would it be?
Kir Breton

What’s the #1 most played song on your iPod?
It must be ….

If you could have lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
My father. I would like to ask him to explain again so many things he tried to teach me that I sometimes feel I’m only old enough now to truly understand. I’d want one last chance to learn from him.

If your life was made into a movie, what would it be called?
(In French) When Pigs Can Fly.

Do you have any regrets?
It’s not a regret rather a wish for the past…and that is that I was so busy working so hard I never got the chance to go and stage in some of the great restaurants around the world. I would have loved to have gone to Michel Bras and a few in Japan

Define Freedom.
Oh that is easy, being supported to do work what reflects what is inside of me.

What are your personal core values?
Kindness, kindness, kindness and then after that I would say to work hard and play nice.

You can get up close and personal with Dominique’s food at her restaurant Atelier Crenn, where you’ll find her most days working alongside her team in the open kitchen.