Duskie Estes and her husband, John Stewart, chefs and co-owners of Sebastopol restaurant Zazu Kitchen+Farm, have been called the King and Queen of Pork. That, by the way, is a compliment for the couple, who raise their own pigs for their bacon and salumi. Their restaurant—an ode to seasonality and sustainability—has been called the poor man’s French Laundry. That’s a compliment, too, since, as Estes says, “We’re as local as local gets.” At the nearby MacBryde Farm, Estes and Stewart, along with farmer Milo Mitchel and culinary gardener Katrina Connaughton, raise chickens, turkeys, babydoll sheep, rabbits, and goats, along with a raft of produce, from shiso to muscat grapes to heirloom tomatoes, pumpkins, and squash.
But before there was Zazu (as well as an outpost at the Davis Family Vineyards), there was Duskie Estes’s sensational cooking at chef Tom Douglas’s Seattle joints Etta’s and later the Palace Kitchen, which in 2000 was rated as one of the top five restaurants in that city and one of the country’s top 50 the following year. (It’s also where she and Stewart met.) City Search named Estes Seattle’s Best Chef. She also co-authored Tom Douglas’s Seattle Kitchen (winner of a 2001 James Beard Award).
A San Francisco native, Estes says she started cooking as a kid, with her EZ-Bake oven. But serious cooking began after graduating from Brown University, working her way up the line at Lucky’s and Al Forno in Rhode Island, Washington D.C.’s 21 Federal and Kinkead’s, and the Bay Area’s Greens, Glide Church, and Bay Wolf.
No stranger to television, Estes has competed on Food Network’s Next Iron Chef, seasons 3 and 5, and has appeared with Stewart on Chefs A’ Field and Emeril Green.