Since its opening, the SingleThread brand has grown from strength to strength, earning a handful of awards in the mere 20 months it has been running. Along with two Michelin stars, SingleThread Restaurant won the 2018 Miele One To Watch Award – one of the most prestigious awards that the World’s 50 Best bestows on restaurants. The San Francisco Chronicle named SingleThread the Best New Restaurant in 2017 and the Inn-Restaurant combo won 9th place on the top 10 Reader’s Choice Best Hotel Restaurants for 2018 in USA Today. Even Vogue had their say before the restaurant opened its doors, naming SingleThread as America’s Most Anticipated New Restaurant of 2016.
The happenings which lead up to Kyle entering the world of gastronomy started when he was 9 years old, when he had a sushi dinner so extraordinary that it cemented his path in becoming a chef, so that he could recreate food as delicious as the Japanese staple that he fell in love with. In his high school years, he apprenticed at one of the oldest Japanese restaurants in Southern California, growing a deeper respect and admiration for Japanese cuisine. After he finished high school, he went on to study at the Southern California School of Culinary Arts to ascertain his culinary career dream into a reality. Once he graduated, he trained at some impressive establishments, including Spago, the Ritz-Carlton, two Michelin-starred AOC, Lucques, and Campanile. Kyle also taught at his alma mater while moonlighting at Lucques and Campanile, giving back some of the well-earned knowledge to fresh culinary minds.
Kyle, still in awe of sushi and the skill it requires to be a sushi master, enrolled at the California Sushi Academy to learn more about the craft. Blossoming in this environment, Kyle met and worked closely with Master Sushi Chef Andy Matsuda from the Sushi Chef Institute, receiving exclusive lessons from the sushi master, and ultimately becoming the chef de cuisine and department chair at the Institute’s fine-dining restaurant. With his already impressive experience in Japanese cuisine, Kyle was offered a position in the kitchen of Michel Bras’ Toya Japan in Hokkaido in 2003. Here, he delved further into the depths of Japanese cuisine, learning more about Japan’s culinary culture and traditional dishes such as kaiseki, izakaya, soba, and, of course, sushi.
In 2006, Kyle was had-picked by Heston Blumenthal to be the head chef of research and development at the The Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen, an establishment which Kyle helped open with the world renowned chef. Kyle also assisted in the publication of The Big Fat Duck Cookbook. In 2012, Kyle left the Heston Team, and returned to the US where he began developing content for the Culinary Institute of America’s curriculum. Kyle always had a passion for learning and sharing knowledge, and thus, he also consulted with other organisations including the Umami Information Center and Intellectual Ventures’ Modernist Cuisine. In 2015, his love for Japanese cuisine culminated in the publication of his first book that he co-wrote with Naoko Takei Moore titled Donabe: The Classic and Modern Japanese Clay Pot Cooking.
Prior to the conception of SingleThread, Kyle and his wife founded an innovative food development company under the name Pilot R+D in their current hometown of Healdsburg. This gave the couple their first taste of helming their own culinary establishment, a “job” which they loved, and thus, they extended their culinary wings and founded SingleThread, the hospitality trifecta based on the ethos of Japanese omotenashi: the spirit of selfless hospitality.
The SingleThread Farm that supplies produce to the inn and restaurant is located 5 miles away from the property, situated perfectly between the Russian River and the historic San Lorenzo Ranch in Healdsburg. Katina Connaughton is the head farmer, and works alongside her team tending to the greenhouse, loamy fields, shade structures, chicken coops, olive trees, an heirloom fruit orchard, beehives, and a cattle paddock, enclosed within Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay vineyards. The farm supplies vegetables, fruit, herbs, flowers, honey, eggs, and olive oil to the inn and restaurant kitchens. Thus, depending on what’s fresh and seasonal from the farm for the day, the restaurant will alter its dishes to use what the farm provides.
The restaurant is a fine-dining establishment which incorporates the fresh produce from the farm and rooftop garden into an 11-course tasting menu, and the menu is customized according to the guests’ dietary preferences and restrictions, offering pescaterian, vegetarian and omnivore options. The menu follows the format of a traditional multi-course kaiseki menu adapted to Sonoma County’s local and seasonal produce. To Kyle, Katina and the SingleThread team, hospitality is key, and so, the entire experience at their establishment centers around the guests feeling comfortable and at home, displayed through the personal touches present in each meal in the restaurant and each room in the inn.
Describe your culinary philosophy in FOUR words:
Reverence for the season.
What is your greatest inspiration?
Our farm, it drives all of our menu decisions and provides the greatest inspiration for creativity.
What four things would you take to a desert island?
Our two daughters, our dog Murray, Japanese claypots to cook in, Bloodroot Blades chef knife.
If you could take a plane ride to any restaurant in the world, just for one meal, where would you go?
Kikunoi in Kyoto.
- 2 Michelin Stars at SingleThread | The Michelin Guide 2018
- Miele One to Watch Award | The World’s 50 Best 2018
Food and Chef Profile Images © Eric Wolfinger
Interior and Exterior of SingleThread Images © Garrett Rowland