La Toque Means Much More Than ‘Chef’s Hat’

I’ll begin with full disclosure by pointing out the fact that Ken Frank, owner/chef of La Toque restaurant at the Westin Verasa, is the chairman of the Napa Chamber of Commerce (NCC) board of directors. He is currently serving his second term in that role, and helped lead the search committee that ultimately resulted in me being hired to my current leadership position with NCC.

I met Ken in 2010 when he agreed to be a chef participant in a Golden State Warriors food and wine event called “Nibbles, Dribbles and Sips.” I was responsible for not only creating this event, but also for pulling it together as a renewal benefit and perk for our season ticket holders.

Shortly thereafter, my wife and I decided to visit the restaurant on one of our many wedding anniversary celebrations here in the valley, and it immediately became her favorite Napa dining destination. Four years later, we’re working side by side to serve this great community in my current role with the NCC.

Our members — and all representatives of our business community — should know that Ken is just as passionate about properly representing their agendas and viewpoints on topics and issues regarding “all things” Napa, as he is about his foie gras.

He carries the Chamber torch proudly, and has had quite a bit of influence on my leadership style and character. He leads the organization while giving me ample trust and space to guide our new direction.

He sets goals, shares aspirations and provides plenty of feedback and motivation all in the name of what’s best for this community that he firmly believes we are so blessed to live, work and play in.

Congratulations to chef Frank and the staff at La Toque for being honored with the Wine Spectator Grand Award for the second consecutive year. A total of only 81 restaurants in the world are bestowed this highest honor, which, according to the magazine’s website, recognizes restaurants that “show an uncompromising, passionate devotion to the quality of their wine program.

Selected restaurants typically offer 1,000 selections or more, and feature serious breadth of top producers, outstanding depth in mature vintages, a selection of large-format bottles, excellent harmony with the menu and superior organization, presentation and wine service.”

Here in the Bay Area, we are the envy of the food and wine universe. I don’t consider myself a foodie, but I’ve tried to take full advantage of enjoying all we have to offer, and often used San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer as my guide.

One year, I even tried to dine at as many places on his Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants list as I possibly could, making it to about half. La Toque has never been on that list. He reviewed chef Frank in November of 2008, and enjoyed his experience enough to give them a three-star rating. There’s no shortage of great restaurants in the Bay Area, but I don’t think there are 100 that are better than La Toque.