A series of events celebrating the life of famed Mendocino County chef, Sally Schmitt • The Mendocino Voice | Mendocino County, CADThe Mendocino voice
MENDOCINO Co., 03/10/23 – The Mendocino County Library celebrates the life and legacy of Sally Schmitt, the famous cook who called Philo home. Libraries across the county are hosting events ranging from book discussions to seed-saving workshops to demonstrate the lasting impact Schmitt, who died March 5, 2022 at the age of 90, has made locally and on a larger culinary scale .
Schmitt founded the gourmet restaurant French Laundry in Yountville and Apple Farm, her cooking school and farm in Philo. Schmitt’s final projects were the cookbook and memoirs Six California Kitchens: A collection of recipes, stories, and cooking lessons from a pioneer in California cuisinewhich was published posthumously in April 2022. She left a farm-to-table legacy that defines California cuisine.
The highlight of the series of events, which runs from March to May, is a book review and guided tour of the apple farm on March 25 with Schmitt’s daughter Karen Bates.
Here are the details of the celebration from the Mendocino County Library:
In 1978, visionary chef Sally Schmitt and her husband Don founded Napa Valley’s trend-setting restaurant, French Laundry. Thirty years ago, Schmitt wanted to focus on teaching, and she and her husband left French Laundry and moved to Apple Farm in Philo. Schmitt transitioned from cooking for others to teaching students the full farm-to-table experience.
Six Californian Kitchens evokes the memorable kitchens of Schmitt’s food-centric life. “It was all wonderful,” Schmitt said in her cookbook and memoir. Six California Kitchens: A collection of recipes, stories, and cooking lessons from a pioneer in California cuisine. “I haven’t taken off my apron in 15 years.”
Schmitt’s daughter Karen Bates, together with Karen’s husband Tim, had rehabilitated the dilapidated apple orchard at Apple Farm and introduced old varieties. Karen filled in as Schmitt’s teaching assistant while Tim gave tours of the farm. Don poured wine with the meal.
Philo’s Apple Farm’s homely stories and enticing recipes are part of it Six Californian Kitchens and the inspiration behind Mendocino County Library’s choice of this year’s Mendocino County Reads book. It also gave the library a focus for its spring program – local foods, nutrition literacy, food security, seed libraries and community gardens. From narration to presentations by local chefs, there’s a collection of nutritious options at your local store.
Although Sally Schmitt died shortly before her book was published, her family celebrates her legacy. Part of this celebration will be a book discussion and farm tour at the Apple Kitchen in Philo on Saturday, March 25th. These and other special events are listed below.
Six Californian Kitchens at Apple Farm in Philo, 18501 Philo Greenwood Road.
- Saturday, March 25 The author’s daughter, Karen Bates, will moderate the book talk and farm tour. Local apple juice and cider, as well as a tasting of vinegars and syrups, are offered at the farmer’s stand.
- 2pm – 3pm – Six Californian Kitchens Book discussion moderated by the author’s daughter.
- 3:00pm – 4:00pm – Apple Farm Tour
- Space is limited so adults wishing to attend should email Mellisa Hannum, Librarian at the Coast Community Branch [email protected].
Fort Bragg Branch Library
- Thursday 20 April 6-7pm – Discussion with Margaret Fox: The Life of a Local Chef. Margaret Fox, who owned Café Beaujolais in Mendocino for 23 years, shares stories from her life as a chef.
Round Valley Branch Library in Covelo
- Thursday, May 25 from 5:00pm – 6:30pm – Round Valley Branch will host a book discussion on Six Californian Kitchens.
- Saturday, April 22 from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm – The Round Valley Branch Seed Library is hosting a seed planting party at the Farmers’ Market.
Ukiah branch library
- Saturday 11th March from 1pm to 2pm – The Ukiah Branch Seed Library is hosting Kitchen Garden Design with Seed Saving in Mind. Join veteran garden educator Carolyn Brown of Mendocino College’s Department of Agriculture for a comprehensive presentation on gardening tips and techniques to help attendees plan their vegetable gardens for harvesting and seed storage. Learn more about locally adapted seeds and how they help create sustainability in our community.
- Saturday, May 6th from 2-4pm – Everyday Herbs with Donna D’Terra.
Willits Branch Library
- Saturday, March 18 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Willits Branch will host a Spring Seed Swap in the meeting room featuring vegetable, flower and herb seeds. Staff members invite the public to bring seeds to share!
The Philo kitchen is one of two Mendocino County settings that Sally talked about in her book. Sally and Don retired to a house in Elk and their cottage kitchen for two was the last mentioned in the book. “All in all, I really did exactly what I loved to do, which was always to cook good food for my loved ones,” says Schmitt in her memoir. “That was what mattered. Nothing else matters.”
The Book-to-Action grant will provide participants with a limited number of copies to keep or share with others Six Californian Kitchens, and copies of read-alikes for younger readers. Please check availability with your branch.
Mendocino County Reads is supported in whole or in part by the US Institute of Museum and Library Services under the terms of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian. More information on the events being held for Mendocino County Reads: Six Californian Kitchensplease visit www.mendolibrary.org/events/library-calendar, www.mendolibrary.org or contact your local branch.