You could say Charlie Palmer’s a pretty busy guy. The chef, cookbook author, restaurateur and hospitality entrepreneur, who you might recognize from shows like CBS This Morning, Top Chef and TODAY—currently juggles three hotels and fourteen restaurants across New York, Las Vegas, Reno, Northern California and Washington, D.C.
Those restaurants include the Michelin-starred Aureole in Manhattan, where he made a name for himself for a unique style of cooking that’s rooted in French technique and regional American ingredients, as well as hotspots like Charlie Palmer Steak, Dry Creek Kitchen and Harvest Table. A longtime supporter of charities like Share Our Strength, he also founded Pigs & Pinot, an annual weekend celebration in Healdsburg, Calif., that brings national and local chefs together to highlight heritage pork, award-winning Pinot Noir and local charities.
We asked Palmer—who is currently launching a new collection of sauces and seasonings with Williams Sonoma—what the day-to-day run-around is like for him when he’s back at home with his family in California wine country.
6:30 a.m.: The alarm sounds. I typically wake up around 6:30, but I split about 50 percent of my time between Northern California and New York. Lately I’ve been also on the road a lot, to places like Las Vegas, Washington, DC and San Francisco, but this morning I was at home in Healdsburg.
6:45 a.m.: I went for a 30-minute run outside. Most mornings, that’s how I start my day, unless it’s the height of summer in Vegas, at which point that outdoor run turns into treadmill time.
7:15 a.m.: In Healdsburg, we have a vineyard on the property, which I like to tend to. After the morning jog, I mowed a portion of it.
8:00 a.m.: I showered and had coffee, then called my assistant to go through my schedule for the day, as well as anything else that might come up. Then I got a barrage of phone calls: First I was on the phone with our chef at Aureole about our monthly menu changing, and then with our hotel operations team.
10:00 a.m.: I made my way to the Harvest Inn in St. Helena, about a 45 minute drive from Healdsburg. When I got there, I had a meeting with our hotel team. Then I spent time with the head gardener, JP, to talk about the property’s summer plantings. (He and I picked some weeds together, too.) After that, I went through our menus with Spencer, our chef at Harvest Table, and spent lunch service on the line with him there and in the dining room with our guests.
2:30 p.m.: In the afternoon I had a meeting with a winemaker, Tom Rochioli of Rochioli Vineyards in the Russian River Valley (best Pinot in Sonoma). It’s all about community in wine country, and we have great relationships with winemakers in both Sonoma and Napa Valley. Tom and I have a big event coming up together, so we discussed that.
5:00 p.m.: I headed back west to Dry Creek Kitchen, my restaurant in Healdsburg, where we were throwing a celebratory staff appreciation dinner. Dry Creek Kitchen just got reviewed by Michael Bauer at the San Francisco Chronicle, and the team was bestowed with three big stars. I wanted to honor them for a job well done and really let them know that it takes a village to receive such an accolade. From our chef Scott Romano to our wine director Jeff Creamer to our busters, hosts, servers and line cooks, everyone shares a piece of the hour.
10:00 p.m.: Scott and I continued the celebration by walking over to Spirit Bar, our lobby bar at Hotel Healdsburg, for some late drinks. Then we made our way over to Spoonbar, a great cocktail bar at the H2 Hotel, our sister hotel). At the end of the night, we wound up at Duke’s just down the street. I’m a Negroni guy, and the crews at all three bars know just how I like them.
See what day-to-day wine country living is like for three more of the region’s farmers, winemakers and culinary professionals.