Cole’s Chop House announces today the departure of opening Executive Chef, Jésus Méndez, after leading the kitchen for over 20 years. His Sous Chef of 12 years, Rodney Morris, has been promoted to Executive Chef.
Jésus Méndez moved to Northern California from Jalisco, Mexico, at the age of sixteen. Soon after arriving he took a job as a dishwasher at a restaurant, and never looked back. Like many eventual-chefs, Jésus worked hard and took to the rhythm of restaurant work, and was promoted to prep and cooking on the line. He worked his way up through various kitchen positions in the North Bay, eventually landing the position of Head Chef at Fusilli Ristorante in Fairfield. The opportunity to work alongside acclaimed Chef Maria Helm Sinskey at Robert Sinskey Vineyards landed him in Napa Valley, where he learned from one of the best about cooking food that’s simple, fresh, locally-driven, and pairs well with wine—lessons he’d take with him into the next phase of his career. He went on to work with Greg Cole at Pasta Prego and Celadon in Napa, after-which Greg asked him to be on the opening team at his new restaurant, Cole’s Chop House, which opened in March of 2000.
Jésus led the culinary team at Cole’s over the years to much success—including being featured in Food Network’s ‘Top Places to Eat,’ and receiving numerous awards from Open Table over the years, including a Diners’ Choice Award, and being one of the ‘100 Best Steakhouses in America.’ Jésus’s philosophy in the kitchen has always been simple: “When it comes to food, I just want to use the finest ingredients possible to create honest, delicious food for our guests… food that keeps them coming back for years.” Judging from the large, local and loyal fan base and ever-busy dining room, it’s clear he achieved that goal!
After 12.5 years working alongside Jésus, Rodney Morris has been promoted to Executive Chef. Rodney grew up in Montreal, Canada, and graduated from the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. After landing in Napa Valley, he worked at Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, the now-shuttered and Michelin-starred restaurant Terra, and another of Greg Cole’s restaurants, Celadon.
About Cole’s Chop House
Cole’s Chop House is located in the Williams-Kyser building, which was the first commercial block constructed north of Napa creek in the late 19th century. San Francisco architects Wright and Saunders designed the hand-hewn native structure, which used local rock for the walls and Douglas Fir for the floors, and are still original today. Since its construction in 1886, a variety of businesses have occupied the historic Williams-Kyser Building—including being an exhibition hall during 1890 for the Napa and Solano county fairs, and housing the local armory, Napa Beauty College, the Duck Pin Bowling Alley in the early ‘40s, and the Feminist Connection in 1979.
Cole’s Chop House opened its doors in March of 2000, with the goal of being a steakhouse where locals and visitors-alike could enjoy a great meal with local wine—especially the Cabernet Sauvignon that Napa is famous for, and that pairs so well with steak and it’s classic accompaniments. After 16 years of success, Greg and Beth sold Cole’s to long-time employee Eric Keffer and his wife, Heather. Cole’s Chop House continues the tradition of being what many consider a local-institution, and “Napa Valley’s Favorite Steak House.”