I recently had the opportunity to visit friends in St. Helena, north of the Napa wine region. I had 48 hours to take it all in, but had been to Napa before, so decided my time was best spent being a local, with Briana and Brian as my sherpas.

Of course there was non-stop cooking, and we visited¬†Grace Family Vineyards where Brian makes the wine (definitely grab a bottle of 2012 Blank), and a went on great vineyard hike at Clark-Claudon Vineyards. But the highlight was Briana and Brian’s home farm where they and their boys raise chickens and tend to their family of 5 goats.

Not even a week has passed since my trip, and yet I already know what imprint this will have on me as a chef and as a person. When you respect your animals, feed them not just from your kitchen, but also from your soul, and involve children in learning about our food ecosystem – the food just tastes better. It’s almost as if each egg told a story, maybe about the grapefruit rind that was in yesterday’s feed, or the way the size and color of each yolk varied from chicken to chicken. ¬†I’m told the chickens thought that they’d been fed from Thomas Keller’s kitchen the few days I was there… but that could just be a rumor.

Briana is a talented photographer and you can find her at Briana Marie Photography. She took all the photos you see here, and several more of our food, which you can find on my Instagram @SaltBlockKitchen.

I’m pretty sure I just raised the bar on on the May “Which Came First” workshop on chicken and eggs!