Can a restaurant really offer a sense of place, if the people in that place don’t eat there?

This was the question posed by Christopher Kostow of the three-Michelin-star The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa, at the recent Food on the Edge symposium in Galway, Ireland.

He wonders how expensive restaurants that are unaffordable to the majority can still connect with their local communities and the people who live there.

He was reflecting on the negative reaction of the locals in St Helena, population under 5000, where he lives and works, to his team’s new casual offering in the town. He mistakenly believed he and his team were viewed as heroes of the local cuisine. In fact, they were seen as outsiders. “I couldn’t get my head around the fact that there was no repetitional transference,” says Kostow.

Dismissive at first, he soon realised that they had completely neglected the local community and had failed to communicate their ends entirely. On reflection, chefs, he says, aren’t doing their jobs if they’re not communicating with or are alienating their local communities.

So how does a restaurant like his reach out and connect? Watch the video above to find out.

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