Silverado Resort’s Executive Chef Rodrigo Cuadra Comes Home
Rodrigo Cuadra discovered his love of cooking at an early age. As a child growing up in Miami, he loved watching his grandmother cook, and he preferred Jacques and Julia Cooking at Home to any television program on Nickelodeon. During his high school years, Cuadra took part in ‘Chefs in Training,’ a program that offered teens hands-on training within local high-end restaurants. After high school, he was off to culinary school, where he had the opportunity to cook for numerous politicians and celebrities under the tutelage of Miami culinary mavericks.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with world-renowned chef Thomas Keller that drew Cuadra to California in 2010. During his tenure with Keller, Cuadra polished his cooking skills and cultivated an ingredient-driven culinary approach that emphasized quality and freshness. A move to Sacramento came later, where he opened the culinary division of Golden 1 Center and became an integral player in the capital city’s farm-to-fork movement, all the while forging relationships with local farmers and ranchers to procure the absolute best seasonal ingredients.
After nearly a decade in California, Cuadra returned to where it all started: Napa. A year after accepting a position at Silverado Resort & Spa as their executive sous chef, he was named executive chef, a position he is honored to hold. “I enjoy working at Silverado Resort as it is a true Napa icon, with a rich history spanning several decades,” said Cuadra, who has embraced his wine country locale by learning all he can about the area’s wine, and becoming what he jokingly calls a ‘wine-o.’ “A vast majority of Napa natives share great Silverado Resort memories. The resort features the best of all worlds, from massive events such as the Safeway Open PGA golf tournament to smaller, more intimate events.”
“Chef Cuadra brings unique talents to Napa and Silverado Resort,” said Bob Geller, Silverado Resort’s vice president of sales and marketing. “Classically trained and well-traveled, he utilizes the freshest ingredients available to inspire farm-to-fork dining experiences.”
Cuadra’s nonconformist approach and ingredient-forward philosophy make him a rising culinary star. His menus change seasonally based on what’s local, fresh, and abundant. He has built relationships with some of the area’s best purveyors who supply him with ingredients for The Grill (the resort’s farm-to-fork dining spot) and The Mansion bar, where elevated small bite fare pairs perfectly with handcrafted cocktails.
“Silverado is in the midst of a wonderful renaissance, and I’m happy to be a part of it,” said Cuadra. “My diverse background and vast travel experience allow me to introduce flavors from across the globe and marry them with classical culinary training and seasonal ingredients. The program and I are both evolving.”
PASTA with LAMBRAGOUT
- 1 lb – 2oz lamb shoulder
- Vegetable Oil for browning
- 1 Small red onion peeled and cut in quarters (do not cut root end)
- 1 Carrot peeled and chopped into thirds
- 1 Celery stalk and chopped into thirds
- 4 cloves Garlic peeled and finely chopped
- 2 T Fresh thyme leaves, chopped and placed in a tied cheese cloth bundle
- 2 T Fresh rosemary, chopped and placed in a tied cheese cloth bundle
- 1 14 oz can of San Marzano whole plum tomatoes, crushed
- 10 oz red wine (Chianti, Cabernet, Merlot or red table wine)
- Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- 3T butter
- 1 recipe lamb ragout
- 1 lb fresh pappardelle pasta or other wide fresh pasta(substitute about 10 oz of dried for fresh.)
- 2T Olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1/4 cup ricotta salata
- 1cup English Peas, blanched
- 1/2 Shallot, small diced
- 2 Garlic cloves
INSTRUCTIONS: PART ONE | LAMB RAGOUT: Begin by heating the vegetable oil in a heavy pot over a medium high heat. Once heated (oil should be shimmering), season the lamb liberally with salt and pepper. Add the meat and brown on all sides. Once the meat is browned, add the onions, carrots, celery and herbs. Stir and continue cooking until vegetables start getting a nice sear. Add garlic and stir for a minute. Pour in the red wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan scraping up all the bits. Let simmer until the wine is almost completely evaporated. Carefully add the plum tomatoes. Add water to cover the meat by 1/2 inch. Cover the pot and simmer for ~three hours. Carefully remove the lid and check the braised meat. It should be “fall apart” tender. (If it needs additional cooking time, re-cover cook another 1/2 hour.) Check seasonings and adjust with salt and pepper as required. Once meat reaches desired tenderness, place it in a bowl to cool slightly and then shred into desired sizes. While the meat cools, discard the large vegetables from the braising liquid and simmer to reduce the liquid by half. Stir the pulled meat back into the sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Toss in the butter and stir until the ragout is fully mixed and shiny.
PART TWO | PASTA & FINISHING: Fill a large pot with water and salt it well. Bring to boil and add pasta to cook until al dente per package directions. Strain pasta while reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. On medium heat, heat a saucepan and add olive oil, sweet shallots and garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add ragout and reserved pasta liquid into the shallot garlic mixture, tossing with the sauce until mixed. Remove from the heat add grated pecorino romano and English peas and mix until a nice homogenous sauce is achieved. Add finely chopped Parsley. Plate onto a bowl and garnish with the ricotta salata and toasted breadcrumbs.
1600 Atlas Peak Road, Napa, CA
707-257-5400 • www.silveradoresort.com
Article By: Fran Miller