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SingleThread wins the Miele One To Watch Award
At the SingleThread, an overwhelming culinary tour de force harkens back to an ancient tradition of hospitality and indulgence: artisanry, horticulture and cuisine focused into a single vision.
Katina and her husband Kyle Connaughton found a beautiful yet unlikely spot to realise their vision. Nestling on rich soil between the idyllic vineyards of the Sonoma County in Healdsburg, California, their restaurant, inn and farm SingleThread is far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. From the relative isolation of their beautiful countryside plot, the quality of the dining quickly drew the attention of the world’s finest diners and culinary experts.
Being awarded two Michelin stars within a year of opening their restaurant is a testament to the clarity of vision that the partners share in life and in love. To understand how they first envisioned what would later become the SingleThread Farm, we will have to travel a little deeper into their past.
As a teenager, Kyle Connaughton began his journey by working for several famous Japanese restaurants in the LA area. Those formative experiences ignited a lifelong love affair, leading him to delve ever deeper into the intricacies of Japanese cuisine and culinary art.
Years later, the SingleThread’s conceptual roots can be traced back to ancient Japanese traditions of hospitality, indulgence and a profound respect for technique.
Omotenashi – the fine art of hospitality
As luck would have it, the highly acclaimed French master chef Michel Bras was working in Japan in the early 2000s. He was on the lookout for talented young multilingual chefs to accompany him, and the situation was to be the perfect source of inspiration for the young Kyle.
In Japan, the couple learned a lot more than just some new cooking techniques. While staying in the volcanic island of Hokkaido, they came into contact with the “ryokan”. These traditional Japanese inns practised the “omotenashi”, the philosophy of selfless, anticipatory hospitality. This magical experience left a deep impression on the young couple.
While Kyle immersed himself in the culinary arts, Katina set off on a discovery journey of her own, following her calling in agriculture by working on several traditional Japanese farms. These experiences taught her a profoundly wholesome and respectful attitude towards nature’s produce. Armed with an earlier study and knowledge of sustainable agriculture, this new experience in Japan helped her develop the SingleThread’s signature farm concept: a farm that is not only consonant with nature, but also pays close attention to the rotation of complementary crops, using only the optimal seeds and manages water usage with the utmost responsibility.
Kyle’s culinary journey to hone his craft also saw him work under the careful supervision of another legendary chef. At the Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen in England, Kyle quickly became one of the leading minds behind many of Heston Blumenthal’s master creations. As the head chef of Blumenthal’s research and development unit, Kyle Connaughton shot up through the ranks for what would later become one of his signature competences: the sleek fusion of the experimental and the traditional aspects of cooking.
Creating the dream
Kyle Connaughton was always clear about his mission: “We wanted to give our guests the feeling that they’re coming less to a restaurant but more to a dinner party in our home.” With this goal in mind and with the knowledge they had gained during their adventures abroad, they finally began to build SingleThread between the vineyards of Sonoma County.
Paying close attention to every last detail along the way, the restaurant as well as the luscious farmland nine miles down the road emerged into reality as if from the Connaughton’s shared dream. Everything from the uncluttered interior to the elegant tableware, from the intimate lighting in the dining room to the furniture in the homely guest rooms, every aspect reflected their vision, most of it handcrafted specifically for SingleThread.
The traditional clay pots that Kyle uses in his kitchen are, for example, handcrafted by a Japanese family business that goes back eight generations, and the tiles on the walls were crafted from clay sourced from their own farmland.
But the lofty standards implied by the SingleThread environment is just the beginning. Each guest is treated the omotenashi way, and the team works effectively to anticipate their guests' wishes and desires before they need express them.
Upon arriving at the SingleThread Farm, the guests are shown the Connaughton definition of hospitality. Their daily routines slide gently aside, and a new rhythm of indulgence, comfort and familiarity take over as the smells from the masterpieces cooked only metres from the guests' seats can take centre stage.
Taking into account the immense foresight, the love for detail and the utmost level of commitment to hospitality and service towards the guests, it is an honour for Miele to announce that the SingleThread is the winner of this year’s World’s 50 Best Miele One To Watch Award.
“As a premium kitchen appliance manufacturer, Miele is constantly looking for extraordinary experiences and visionary thoughts on the future of culinary art”, says Dr. Axel Kniehl, Executive Director Marketing and Sales for Miele. “We were impressed by the dedication of the entire SingleThread team, not only creating an outstanding culinary experience but also keeping a strong focus on the most extraordinary form of hospitality – the Japanese omotenashi – that will grant their guests unforgettable dining experience. Our warm congratulations go to the SingleThread for achieving something truly memorable!”
The team of the SingleThread will formally accept the award at this year’s The World’s 50 Best Restaurants event in Bilbao, Basque region in Spain on the 19th of June.
Author: Philipp Gosselck
Photos: © SingleThread