Cooking and teaching go hand-in-hand for chef Scott Samuel, a full-time instructor at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus, in California’s Napa Valley. There, in his commitment to promote organic and sustainable agricultural practices, he works with students to grow their own produce in the school’s Lenich Garden, as part of their chef’s training. The garden’s bounty is put to use in the school’s classes and restaurant, and sold at a student-run stall at the St. Helena’s Farmers’ Market.
Thinking about how to cook with what the garden has to offer came from rich experience. After graduating from Washington State University’s Hotel/Restaurant Administration Program, Samuel cooked at Gerard’s Relais de Lyon in Seattle and also opened a Gerard’s on Maui. An apprenticeship with Thomas Keller—whose French Laundry makes the market-driven menu high art—put him at the epicenter of seasonal cooking. Samuel was the man behind the stove at Seattle’s Brie & Bordeaux bistro. And in 2001, as sous chef, he helped relaunch the pioneering Herbfarm, whose reliance on its own gardens had put the Woodinville, Washington, restaurant on the culinary map more than 30 years ago.
A teacher of both group and individual cooking classes for more than a decade, Samuel is known for taking cooks hungry for knowledge and helping them to hone their skills while producing simple, delicious meals from the best ingredients the season has to offer.