Intriguing Local Chef

Chef Kaelin Ulrich Trilling’s rise to Chef de Cuisine at Thomas Keller’s La Calenda in Yountville is the stuff of which dreams are made. At just 27 years old, Trilling’s culinary background proved to be just what Keller was seeking in filling the coveted position. Trilling’s mother, Susana Trilling, a celebrated cookbook author and Oaxaca-based cooking school proprietor, recommended her son for the position when Keller sought her counsel in filling the role. Brought up in his mother’s kitchen, wherefrom a tender age he witnessed count- less cooking lessons and learned to appreciate the soul-satisfying impact of traditional cuisine, the Oaxaca raised Trilling sealed his vocational fate at age 18, when he moved to San Antonio, TX to serve as line cook for Chef John Brand at Hotel Omni La Mansión del Rio. Over the next nine years, Trilling packed his resume with stints at eateries in Tennessee, Mexico, London, and New York, perfecting his unique style of Mexican cuisine. “Growing up in a food-oriented household was a beautiful and unique experience,” said Trilling, who admits that his much younger self had no idea that the kitchen would become a career. He acknowledges a steep learning curve, one he expertly navigated thanks to his cadre of mentors. He recently celebrated one year working and living in the Napa Valley, where he finds many similarities to his home town in which he grew up, including the rural, agricultural lifestyle, and just as his mother taught him, he makes everything at La Calenda from scratch. “She’s the reason I can make a proper mole,” laughs Trilling. “I’m lucky to have her in my life.”


Article By: Fran Miller