Zazu Kitchen + Farm is located in The Barlow, a new shopping center/culinary and arts depot, featuring critically acclaimed restaurants, tasting rooms, art galleries and markets. Husband and wife team, John Stewart and Duskie Estes have owned Zazu since 2001, where it originally operated in a rural roadhouse in Santa Rosa. In 2013, Zazu re-opened in the newly renovated Barlow, calling itself Zazu Kitchen + Farm, due to the fact that the kitchen takes up 50% of the square footage of the building.
John and Duskie are, by definition, cool. Their restaurant is cool, their matching tattoos are cool, and their general demeanor and outlook on life as successful chefs is cooler than cool. The interior of the dining room features mostly raw wood and stainless steel. They serve cocktails in bright blue mason jars, and serve local brews and spirits from purveyors in The Barlow. But most importantly, John and Duskie are known as the ”King and Queen of Pork.” Within their giant kitchen, they operate their pork brand, Black Pig Meat Co. Pig is a feature in almost everything they serve and it’s mouth-watering. Their burger patties are stuffed with bacon and their house-made chocolate peanut butter cups have pork rinds in them! But Duskie didn’t always love pork. She was a vegetarian for almost 20 years before she met John. Eventually she came around, but her principles for what she calls “taking a life,” stayed intact. John and Duskie believe whole-heartedly that if you are going to take a life, whether it be a pig or a persimmon, that you use every part of it. From the snout to the feet, not a single piece of the pig gets wasted.
We chose to feature Zazu Kitchen + Farm in Episode 4 because John and Duskie’s experience in preserving meat has history and years of experience. They honor the animal and they honor the process of preservation. Not only do both of these chefs have immense talent and experience, but they’ve each got some star chef quality as well. Chef Estes is not a stranger to the Food Network. She’s competed in Iron Chef among some of the greatest chefs in the world. Currently, Estes will be appearing as a judge on “Guy’s Grocery Games” with Guy Fieri. From time to time, John, Duskie and Guy invite each other over for dinner to cook for fun and catch up. John also studied cured meats under the wings of Mario Batali.
During the filming of Episode Four of Spoiled To Perfection, our host, Garrett Martin, learned how to properly butcher a pig, while John taught him how to identify pork cuts. Duskie showed him how to make their bacon caramel popcorn and about what it means to be a famous head chef, wife and mother. After we wrapped the last scene, Duskie and the crew had an impromptu bourbon tasting, including a bacon fat infused bourbon! That was everyone’s favorite.
The following morning after we finished shooting, I woke up after a long dream about bacon and realized I hadn’t quite had enough. So I came back that evening for dinner and treated myself to a decadent meal. I had to start out with a local probiotic beverage so I ordered an Apple Rosemary Shrub and the “Brussels + Bacon” appetizer with apples, marcona almonds, sherry vinegar and Bohemian Creamery capriago cheese. The thick and perfectly charred pieces of bacon were heavenly and the sherry vinegar subtly burst in each brussel. For dinner, I ordered the “Octopus+ Wild Shrimp Risotto,” with leeks, fennel and Meyer lemon. Sometimes octopus can be a bit chewy, but this was cooked perfectly. Small pieces of John’s hand made chorizo gave the dish just the right amount of heat. Needless to say, I was thoroughly satisfied. Especially because I walked out the door with a giant bag of their bacon caramel popcorn to munch on later.
If you haven’t experienced Zazu Kitchen+Farm, do it now. The menu has something for everyone, and the kitchen and staff are very accommodating to allergies and aversions. Zazu Kitchen + Farm is located at 6770 McKinley St. #150, Sebastopol, CA. 95472. Reservations are recommended on weekends. Call 707 523 4814 to book. The restaurant is closed Tuesdays for Black Pig Meat Co. production.