After working several years at Chicago’s iconic Pump Room, Chef Jose Mejia yearned for the sunny skies of California. The Florida native, though proud of his work and trajectory in the Windy City, was tiring of the harsh winters, and he set his sights specifically on Napa Valley, where he hoped to land a position with his idol, Chef Thomas Keller. Before he had even unpacked his bags, Mejia found himself working in the kitchen at Keller’s Bouchon Bistro in Yountville. After two years, Mejia ventured to The Meritage Resort & Spa’s Olive & Hay restaurant, where he now leads the kitchen team as Executive Chef.
“Those Chicago winters were really tough on this Florida boy,” laughed Mejia. “I knew I wanted a different quality of life, and I wanted to learn from someone at Chef Keller’s level. I wanted to study his philosophy and take-in everything I could. I was looking to branch out and grow on a different level.”
And he did. His attention to every detail paid off. Under the guidance of The Meritage Resort’s Executive Chef Vincent Lesage, Mejia success- fully launched Olive & Hay Restaurant in February 2020. His passion for curating and delivering an unparalleled dining experience for guests has made the restaurant a popular dining destination. The contemporary American/Italian restaurant combines the best of Italy and Napa Valley with an ever-changing menu featuring house-made, always from scratch items. Mejia uses the freshest, seasonal ingredients sourced from Napa, Sonoma, and Suisun City farmers with whom he has forged personal relationships.
Mejia received his bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management from The Art Institute and also received his associate’s degree in culinary arts from Le Cordon Bleu. At Chicago’s Pump Room, he served as sous chef, leading a team of eight. While at Michelin-starred Bouchon Bistro, he served as saucier- chef de partie and led a team of five. It was these leadership skills that caught the eye of The Meritage management. “Chef Jose is a fantastic culinarian and leader, bringing positive energy to the kitchen and front of the house,” said David Ryan, The Meritage Resort & Spa Managing Director.
THE BIG ITALIAN SALAD
- corona beans
- optional additional seasonal Napa market vegetables
- 3 1/2 Tbs garlic
- 2/3 cups red bell pepper
- 2/3 cups shallot
- 3 1/3 Tbs thyme-picked-no stems
- 3 1/3 Tbs oregano-picked-no stems
- 1 ¾ cups O+H olive oil
- 1/2 cup chardonnay vinegar
- 1/3 cups fresh lemon juice
- 1 2/3 Tbs salt
- 1 2/3 Tbs sugar
INSTRUCTIONS: Take all of set 1 and rough chop, then place inside a food processor. Process a couple times, scraping down the sides as to ensure everything becomes the same size. Mix set 2 together in another container until incorporated, and then add half of it to the processor with set 1. Process for a few seconds, then add the rest of set 2. Process all for 30 seconds and dress your salad.
875 Bordeaux Way, Napa, CA 94558