Retired Chef Bob Hurley adorned his apron once again to serve a gourmet lunch to Veteran Home residents in Yountville, California along with other local star chefs and vintners.

The Veterans Home of California – Yountville houses over 800 aged and or disabled United States military veterans and their spouses, nearly a third of the town’s population.

“I love my vets,” said Hurley. “We recognized that the population of Yountville was comprised in a big part from the veteran’s home.  Yountville was developing and getting all these great restaurants and tasting rooms and the vets were part of it and yet, not part of it.  They couldn’t access the town, whether it was mobility or the cost. We knew they couldn’t come to us so we came to them because of our respect we have for our veterans for service and the fact they are a huge part of our community. They were up on the hill unrecognized so we changed that.”

Orchestrated by Chef Hurley and the Yountville Chamber of Commerce, this annual luncheon was created to celebrate our nation’s veterans.

The first time I had this idea, I went around to the area restaurants and asked them for help,” said Hurley. “I said let’s do this one time for Veteran’s Day and I didn’t get any refusals.  It was supposed to be a one-off thing, but after the first year everyone wanted to do it again because they got so much out of it. “Truth be told, we really enjoy our interactions with the Veterans during this event, it is something we look forward to each year.

“This is an annual highlight for our residents,” said Veteran Home of California – Yountville’s public information officer Joshua Kiser. “To have these talented chefs, winemakers and volunteers donate their time and skills to honor those who have served out country is very gratifying.”

This year’s luncheon featured the culinary talents of Chef Cary Delbridge of Brix Restaurant & Gardens, Chef Nate Lindsey of Lucy Restaurant & Bar at Bardessono, Chefs Donald Young and Adam Nichol of the Napa Valley Wine Train, Chef Gregory Short of Bistro Jeanty, Chef Francois Heigel of Bouchon Bakery and Chef Michael Foster of Mustards Grill.

Served restaurant-style, the meal is served by over 60 volunteers and Brix Restaurant & Gardens staff, and accompanied by some of Napa Valley’s finest wines, including wines from Duckhorn Vineyards, Purple Heart Wines and Domaine Chandon.

“14 years later there is a waiting list for volunteers to help serve more than 850 veterans.  All the chefs and the community helpers are all volunteers including business leaders and local politicians.

“Though Chef Bob Hurley retired this past year, he said he will continue to do the Celebrity Chef Veteran’s Day Luncheon for as long as he can.

Story and photos by Kari Ruel