Jan 22, 2024

Healdsburg chef, dad of 4 shares ‘dude

Hazel Hill restaurant at the Montage Healdsburg resort will host a brunch for Father's Day and to mark the close of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. The Gino Raugi Trio will provide entertainment.

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, June 19

Cost: $125 adults and $65 children

Where: Montage Healdsburg, 100 Montage Way, Healdsburg

Four seems to be the magic number for Jason Pringle.

As the recently appointed executive chef at the posh Montage Healdsburg resort, he directs and oversees the menus and kitchens for four on-site restaurants, including Scout Field Bar with its stunning views of Alexander Valley and marquee fine-dining restaurant Hazel Hill.

At home, his plate is also full as the father of four children, all 6 years old and younger. He admitted it's a juggling act for him and his wife, Ann.

"Adding in number four was a bit of a challenge," he said. "No matter how we split them now, we’re constantly outnumbered."

The couple moved to Sonoma County in the fall of 2020, just as Pringle was hired as the Montage's chef de cuisine. After spending most of his career in New York, San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and with a growing family, they wanted to slow down a little, and settled in Healdsburg. It was a homecoming for his wife, who grew up in Petaluma.

"(We wanted the) small-town, family-centric community. The tight-knit community is part of the draw here," he said, noting they’d attended the Healdsburg Future Farmers Country Fair twilight parade the night before this interview.

A native of the East Bay, Pringle was raised, culinarily speaking, in some of the nation's top restaurant kitchens headed by luminaries like Daniel Boulud, Laurent Manrique and the late Jan Birnbaum.

Now 44, he came of age in a different world, where celebrated chefs were sometimes known for big egos and hot tempers.

Pringle, soft-spoken and by all appearances quite humble, indicates that type of kitchen culture, himself included, is changing for the better.

"I try to temper it and bring it down a lot," he said.

Now that he's a father, he sees parallels between fatherhood and his role as an executive chef overseeing a new generation of young cooks.

"Part of what I do is teach and mentor and bring them up in the culinary world. I’m trying to teach them to do the right thing."

His new chef de cuisine at Hazel Hill, Sean Koenig, started working with Pringle at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay when he was just 16, so there's a kind of paternal connection there and with many members of his younger staff.

Pringle said those relationships have helped him with the transition to fatherhood.

"In many ways, it helped me be a better dad because I was dealing with a bunch of 20-year-olds. Having mentorship and guiding people has helped me be better," he said.

Because Pringle is at work most evenings, he takes the morning shift at home, getting his kids up, fed and out the door for school or preschool.

On days off, his family likes to hike in the Healdsburg Ridge Open Space Preserve near the resort or through Armstrong Redwoods.

And his children like to learn about what Dad does while he's at work.

"They enjoy being in the kitchen with me, making pizzas or rolling pasta," Pringle said.

Just like in a restaurant kitchen, there's an element of controlled chaos, albeit on a different level, when he cooks with his kids.

"There's lots of pushing and shoving and crying because they all want to be right there and be the one in front," he said.

Like for many families, pancakes on Saturday mornings are practically a given.

"That's a big thing for them," said Pringle, who can't resist giving the weekend morning tradition a chef-like twist. "Occasionally I’ll do a ricotta and lemon pancake."

His children's tastes run from the expensive to the pedestrian, according to Pringle.

"I was given some samples of caviar and took it home and thought I’d just see, ‘Hey what do you think of it?’ and my oldest loved it," he said, chuckling. "He likes it with a little cracker and crème fraîche."

He finds the tastes of guests at the resort, mostly well-heeled tourists, also run the gamut. Some want to keep their meals light and healthy. Others, he said, come to Sonoma County on a culinary adventure to indulge, dining one night at Hazel Hill and other nights at Single Thread and Cyrus.

When they do go out with all four little ones in tow, Pringle and his family like to hit Healdsburg Bar & Grill or Mary's Pizza Shack.

"We wind up at Mary's a lot for the nostalgia for my wife. That was her favorite childhood spot," he said.

With Father's Day later this month, Pringle is busy planning the menu for the Montage's jazz brunch, an extravagant feast made with men in mind.

"We’re keeping it very dude-centric, if you will, for lack of a better name," he said.

That means plenty of meat and some boozy elements added for good measure.

A carving station will feature ribs with a rye barbecue sauce and bourbon-glazed pork belly. For dads who can't get enough tacos, there's a station with made-to-order quesabirria.

Pringle managed to squeeze in a few vegetables, too, like grilled Caesar and street corn salads.

If Dad has a sweet tooth, there's cornflake-crusted French toast with maple-bourbon syrup, warm pecan sticky buns drizzled with bourbon and bacon caramel sauce and chocolate stout ice cream sandwiched between two sugar cookies.

For his own Father's Day — his first as a dad of four — Pringle's not sure what his family might have planned, but he doesn't want or expect anything so grand as what he's doing at work.

"Just a nice simple roasted chicken," he said. "It makes me very happy."

Makes 4-6 servings

Make sure you start this recipe the day before you want to serve them. Although it takes several hours to smoke ribs so they’re tender enough to fall off the bone, most of that time you leave them unattended and can do other things. Chef Jason Pringle said if you don't have a smoker, you can make these in the oven, following the same instructions.

¼ cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon dry thyme

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon ground mustard

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon celery salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne

2 racks St. Louis Ribs

1 cup Dijon mustard

½ cup of apple juice

½ cup water

For the BBQ sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cloves minced garlic

1 cup minced onion

2 cups ketchup

½ cup packed brown sugar

⅓ cup cider vinegar

¼ cup tomato paste

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

½ tablespoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ cup Tabasco sauce

¾ cup rye whiskey

In a bowl, combine ingredients for the rub — from brown sugar through to cayenne — and mix well, breaking up any clumps of sugar or seasonings. Set aside.

Place ribs on a sheet pan or foil baking tray. Generously spread mustard over both sides of the racks of ribs and season each side with the dry rub. Cover the tray and refrigerate overnight.

Combine apple juice and water in a spray bottle and refrigerate until ready to smoke the ribs.

While the ribs marinate in the refrigerator, make the barbecue sauce. Heat a large skillet with olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.

Stir in all remaining ingredients, except for the whiskey, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the whiskey, whisk to combine and remove from heat. Cover until ready to use.

To cook the ribs: Preheat a smoker or oven to 225 degrees and place the ribs bone side down on the smoker for 3 hours. Spritz with apple juice mixture every half-hour.

Remove ribs from the smoker and place on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Baste the ribs with some of the barbecue sauce, then wrap securely with the foil, sealing well to prevent leaks. Place ribs on smoker for an additional 2 hours.

Remove ribs from the smoker, brush with more barbecue sauce and remove foil. Place ribs back on the smoker bone side down, and smoke an additional 1 hour.

Remove from smoker, brush again with sauce and serve.

Makes 10-12 servings

This salad is a perfect accompaniment to barbecued ribs or any grilled meat.

12 ears of corn

Olive oil, for brushing

1 bunch scallions, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

½ cup Chipotle Aioli (recipe follows)

½ cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

For garnish

Sliced radishes

Cotija cheese, crumbled



For the Chipotle Aioli

½ cup mayonnaise

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon chipotle powder

Preheat grill to medium-high (around 375 to 400 degrees). Place corn, still in its husks, directly on the grill. Cook for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally until the corn inside is fully steamed. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes, then shuck the corn, removing husks and silks.

Next, make the aioli. In a bowl, combine all ingredients and mix with a fork until smooth.

Cut the kernels off the cob and put into a large bowl along with scallions, lime juice, Chipotle Aioli and chopped cilantro.

Fold ingredients together with a rubber spatula or spoon. Season with salt and pepper.

Garnish as desired with radish, cotija, more cilantro and Tajin.

Chill if not serving immediately, removing from the refrigerator about half an hour before serving.

Makes 4 servings

For a special Father's Day brunch, Pringle takes French toast to the next level with a honey-infused batter and a coating of cornflakes.

8 slices of brioche, cut 1-inch thick

2 cups milk

7 eggs

¼ cup honey

¼ cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1½ teaspoons salt

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

8 cups crushed cornflakes cereal

Canola or other neutral oil, for frying

Lay slices of bread on counter to dry out slightly while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a large shallow bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, honey, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and vanilla until well-blended. Slowly whisk in flour and baking powder until smooth.

Add cornflakes to a second shallow bowl and place next to the batter.

Heat 1 inch of oil in a heavy skillet to 325 degrees.

Working with 1 or 2 bread slices at a time, dip bread in batter, allowing any excess to drip off and back into the bowl.

Roll battered bread in cornflake crumbs, covering generously. Immediately place bread slices into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 1 minute per side.

Remove French toast to paper towels and transfer to a baking sheet in a 200-degree oven to keep warm.

Repeat with remaining bread slices. Serve warm, with your favorite toppings.

Makes approximately 12 pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons baking powder

½ tablespoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup milk

¾ cup whole-milk ricotta

10 large eggs, separated

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 lemons, zested

¼ cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon butter, melted

⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar

Powdered sugar, to garnish

Lemon juice, to garnish

Fresh berries, to garnish

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt for 20 seconds.

Make a well in center of flour mixture and set the bowl aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together milk, ricotta, egg yolks and vanilla until well-blended.

Add lemon zest, lemon juice and butter to milk mixture and blend until combined. The lemon juice will cause the mixture to curdle a little, and that's OK.

Immediately pour milk mixture into flour mixture and whisk just until combined. The batter should be slightly lumpy.

In separate bowl, add egg whites and cream of tartar. Whisk into soft peaks and fold into batter.

Heat a griddle over medium-low heat, add butter and allow it to melt. Ladle in batter to make 4- to 5-inch pancakes. Flip when the top begins to set and bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake. Cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute until cooked through.

Top with a dusting of powdered sugar and your favorite toppings, such as a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh berries.

You can reach Staff Writer Jennifer Graue at 707-521-5262 or [email protected]. On Twitter @JenInOz.

Hazel Hill restaurant at the Montage Healdsburg resort will host a brunch for Father's Day and to mark the close of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. The Gino Raugi Trio will provide entertainment.

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, June 19

Cost: $125 adults and $65 children

Where: Montage Healdsburg, 100 Montage Way, Healdsburg

When: Cost: Where: For the BBQ sauce To cook the ribs: When: Cost: Where: