When Ethan de Graaff was just 13 years old, he knew there was no other choice but to become a chef.
Now, the head chef of The Elderberry House in Oakhurst, he explains with a chuckle, “Once my dad started using mayo as a sauce on everything, I knew what I had to do.”
Today, he oversees the menu at the fine-dining restaurant at the Old World Chateau du Sureau, a 9-acre oasis in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, not far from Yosemite National Park. He works in conjunction with Culinary Director Chris Flint, the former chef de cuisine at New York’s storied Eleven Madison Park and former executive chef of Michelin-starred Maude in Los Angeles.
Also tasked with overseeing sister property First & Oak in Solvang, Flint was hired in late 2022. Since his arrival, he’s brought back the restaurant’s tasting menu and leaned into sourcing locally even more.
Last week, when I was invited in as an overnight guest of the Relais & Chateau property, I had a chance to experience the roll-out of his first full new menu.
You might say my visit was more than two decades in the making. Way back when, while staying at another property near Yosemite, my husband and I had made dinner reservations at The Elderberry House. Unfortunately, it happened to be one of those precarious winters with such a deluge of snow that we were alarmed to see a snow plow had gone off the side of the road. Because the onslaught kept forcing the closure of the roads, we ended up canceling our reservations, fearing that even if we made it to the restaurant, we might never be able to get out again.
Finally making it here was definitely worth the wait. Imagine pulling up to a turreted estate in the European countryside, and you get an idea of what Chateau du Sureau is like.Read more