Chef Ari Weiswasser, Glen Ellen Star, California Wine Country, Sonoma, Where to eat, Where to drink, Where to shop, Glen Ellen, Benziger Winery, Yountville, Napa, Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Mexican, American, BBQ, Barbecue, New American, Creative, Farm To Table, Organic, Winery, Winemakers, San Francisco


Glen Ellen Star - Sonoma, CA

General Information

Glen Ellen STar

Glen Ellen

New American

13648 Arnold Drive

Glen Ellen, CA 95442

T: 1.707.343.1384





Photograph courtesy of Glen Ellen Star





Q. Describe Glen Ellen Star for us.

A. After spending 12 years in fine dining, I wanted to create a restaurant that I would want to eat at everyday. We describe the food as rustic refined. We are a neighborhood place with an open kitchen and the food is cooked in a wood-fired oven. Our rule is keep everything to about four ingredients. We spend a lot of time sourcing the ingredients, putting a lot of thought behind each ingredient and how it’s used.

Q. Within those four ingredients, is there one that shows up consistently?

A. Other than the basics like salt, sugar, olive oil, and butter, we don’t overlap specific ingredients.

Q. Do you have any favorite olive oils or salts that you love?

My wife and her family have the winery (Benziger) right up the road and they have olive trees. It’s a very small production of olive oil and  we use it at the restaurant for finishing dishes. It’s a vintage olive oil that’s made organically. It’s a very high quality and it’s specific to the place where we are.

We also use olive and canola oils from Sonoma Harvest. It’s made right here in Sonoma and we use the olive oil to cook with. It’s an organic product that’s reasonably priced. In the busy season, we go through about 15 gallons of olive oil a week, so they have the infrastructure to do it and to deliver it at a reasonable price.

For salt, we use kosher salt as our standard. To finish, we use a Celtic sel gris, which is a finer version of a sel gris.

Q. You worked with famous chef Georges Perrier at Le Bec-Fin in Philadelphia. How did he inspire you?

A. I was there in 2001 and saw the tail end of his brilliance. He was letting go a little bit, because he worked so hard for so many years, but  he still had a presence in the kitchen. He knew how to run a kitchen and make it efficient and that was his hidden brilliance, taking a restaurant from ground up.

Exploring California Wine Country

Find | Bakeries

Macarons from Bouchon Bakery in Yountville

Photograph courtesy of Bouchon Bakery

Bouchon Bakery

It’s a very seasonal and well done, organized bakery. Order the macarons or the shortbread cookie. Their shortbread just breaks apart in your mouth.

6528 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

T: 1.707.944.2253 |

Eat | Restaurants

El Molino Central in Sonoma

Photo Credit: Find. Eat. Drink.

El Molino Central

The owner and chef, Karen Taylor, lived all over Mexico and studied with Diana Kennedy, the Julia Childs of Mexico. She makes super authentic Mexican. For breakfast, they only do one thing and it’s the chilaquiles. For lunch, it’s a different menu. In the winter, they do posole. They also do beer-battered fish tacos. It’s fun to go and try something new every time. They do a Blue Bottle drip coffee and each cup takes about four minutes. They grind it and they put it in the filter, they heat the water and they basically brew it right in front of you. It’s probably one of the best cups of coffee in Sonoma.

11 Central Avenue, Sonoma, CA 95476

T: 1.707.939.1010 |

Mustards Grill

Photographs courtesy of Mustards Grill

Mustards Grill

It’s a just off-the-road quintessential wine country kind of stop. It has a classic garden outside, it’s always busy and it is right off the highway. It’s like being at a backyard barbecue with enormous portions. It’s been here for so long and it’s well established.

7399 St Helena Highway, Napa, CA 94558

T: 1.707.944.2424 |


Photograph courtesy of Meadowood


Chef Christopher Kostow is doing great things. He’s young and he’s a three-star Michelin chef. He’s doing his own thing. If you have the money, I definitely recommend it for a really nice night out.

900 Meadowood Lane, St Helena, CA 94574

T: 1.707.531.4788 |

Drink | Wine Tasting Rooms

Wine at Envolve Winery

Photograph courtesy of Envolve Winery

Envolve Winery

Wine made by young winemakers and they have a tasting room in downtown Sonoma. They don’t own any land, but they buy juice and they blend, store and make wine. It’s very New World and very bold. If you were to taste that wine you would know that it was from a young winemaker, not because of lack of experience, just because of the no-fear risk where they can take it in any direction mentality.

27 E Napa Street, Sonoma, CA 95476

T: 1.707.721.1979 |


They have this cool San Francisco following. They actually own the land and they are farmers, not just winemakers. Their wines are the style that people either love or hate. They don’t want to sell out with a big oaky Chardonnay-type mentality. They’re still developing their style similar to what we’re doing in our restaurant. I can relate to them.

2300 Napa Road, Sonoma, CA 95476

T: 1.707.939.1858 |

More California Wine Country Recs

Download the F.E.D. iPhone app and get more restaurant, bar and shop recommendations from chef Ari Weiswasser as well as other chefs, sommeliers and bartenders.


The road to California wasn’t a straight line for Pennsylvania native chef Ari Weiswasser, but the wealth of experience he gathered along the way is evident in the food he cooks. Before realizing a decade-long dream to open his own place, he worked in New York at esteemed restaurants like Daniel, Picholine, and Corton. In Philadelphia, he worked at Striped Bass and Le Bec-Fin. He also had a long stint at The French Laundry.

Weiswasser’s restaurant, Glen Ellen Star, is a casual bistro with an emphasis on the location and the seasons. He loves living in Sonoma and being a part of the wine country, where his in-laws own Benziger Family Winery.

Chef Ari Weiswasser shares his 6 Things...Wine Country with his favorite places to eat, drink and food shop.