Varun Jain SMOKE LAB Founder & CEO
Publisher's Plate Vol. 25 No. 09

September is for Indian Vodka

Also, Valdobbiadene, and restaurants in San Francisco, Vermont, and Tennessee


Our feature story this month covers the landing of Smoke Lab vodka in the United States. Like many things Indian, Drew Beard recounts the story of a powerhouse company with facilities rivaling those of iconic American brands. It is also the story of a family business. Built-up by his father, Varun Jain is now leading the push into new markets with innovation and enthusiasm. They produce the only vodka I rave about (Smoke Lab Vodka Aniseed). Smoke Lab is worthy of your attention, for they are revitalizing a category that is often stale.

Varun Jain

Are you planning a trip to Vermont this Fall? Besides having the highest COVID vaccination rate in the Union, and pastoral views, Vermont also has some culinary gems. Melanie Young introduces us to Wildflower Restaurant & Bar, located in the historic Grey Fox Inn in Stowe, Vermont. Executive Chef Jonathan Shepard graciously shares his recipe for Pork Belly Chicharron with Rice, Stewed Beans and Escabeche.

Wildflower Restaurant Executive Chef Jonathan Shepard

If Hawaiian kitsch is more your thing, explore the Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco with our Bay Area contributor Deborah Grossman. Its retro 1940s Tiki decor even has a lagoon, but you can enjoy it also for its creative, updated menu and selection of quality beverages.

Tonga Room, The Groove Brand. Photo: Credit: Fairmont Hotel San Francisco

Instead, as the weather begins to cool, you may be yearning for some rolling hills on a hospitable Southern farm. You can enjoy Blackberry Farm, an award-winning Relais & Chateaux that sits on a 4,300-acre working farm. In this restaurant profile, Melanie Young traces the evolution of this exceptional property and Chef Cassidee Dabney’s journey to enrich it.

Blackberry Farm

When you have learned to pronounce Valdobbiadene (val-dob-bi-adene), visited its vineyard-encrusted hills, and tasted Prosecco in one of its outdoor tasting rooms with a view, you will be forever moved. Valdobbiadene is one of those magical medieval places that is not diminished by modern conveniences such as electricity! Penny Weiss introduces us to David Noto, owner of Altaneve, in Valdobbiadene. It is a short 75-minute car ride from Venice. I highly recommend it.

View from Altaneve Vineyard

Melanie Young inspires us with the story in Chef & Mentor of how “Chef of the Century,” Joël Robuchon inspired Steve Benjamin, the Executive Chef at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills.

Steve Benjamin, Executive Chef, Waldorf-Astoria Beverly Hills

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Enjoy back-to-school time, everyone. In the meantime:

Have you been to Telluride, Colorado? You’ll want to be there for the 40th annual Telluride Wine Festival this September 23-26th. 

Attendees and exhibitors can attend at a discount. Enter the code “Sante” on checkout. Santé advertisers and entrants to the Santé Wine and Spirits Competition may exhibit at our booth for free. We are limiting it to six companies on a first-come, first-served basis. Contact me for details.

We have just extended the deadline to enter the NEW Santé Wine and Spirits Competition! The competition is for any winery or distiller interested in gaining exposure with restaurant professionals. Judged by a prestigious group of experts and backed by the respected Santé brand, winning products will receive the on-premise recognition they deserve. Winners will be featured in a fall issue of Santé Magazine and shared with our extensive subscriber base and social media channels. So enter your wines or spirits now. Don’t delay!

New deadline for the Santé Wine and Spirits Competition

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A Votre Santé

Emiliano De Laurentiis

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