Forty-five minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the glimmering Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco is a place that will teleport your taste buds to a place unlike anywhere else. A place where Japanese culture, culinary excellence, art, selfless hospitality, innovation and sustainability seamlessly intertwine to create Single Thread.
Single Thread is culinary child of husband-and-wife team Kyle and Katina Connaughton. He’s the executive chef; she’s the head of culinary gardens and farm manager of the farm-driven, Asian-inspired haute cuisine restaurant and inn. Chef Kyle brings his expertise from working in some of the world’s best kitchens, including five years at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck. Yet no place made more of an impression than Japan, where Kyle worked with French chef Michel Bras at his restaurant Toya Japon in Hokkaido. The dynamic duo see Single Thread as an extension of their home, welcoming guests in and embracing the Japanese concept of omotenashi, the “spirit of selfless hospitality, anticipating needs without having to be asked.”
1. Why did you choose Sonoma County as your location for SingleThread?
We fell in love with Sonoma County for its diversity of agriculture as well as its makers spirit. With the nearby coast, redwood forests, vineyards, and rolling hills it felt like the perfect place for us to farm and open and inn and restaurant for both local guests and visitors who come to our region for food, wine, and a beautiful landscape.
2. What was your biggest inspiration?
Our biggest creative inspiration are the vegetables we harvest from the farm. Our menu is constantly inspired and driven by what we harvest on a daily basis.
3. What does a “day in the life” of Katina and Kyle look like?
For Katina, it starts with early morning on the farm, checking in on everything and planting fields or prepping beds. After that is the daily harvest with the farm crew and heading back to the restaurant to start the floral work. Along with the floral team, this involves creating the arrangements in the dining room, inn, and all of the floral elements that are used within our cuisine. In the evening Katina is in the restaurant for service. For me, the day starts early checking emails and scheduling calls. I come in for part of the breakfast time for the inn guests and then begin prep for that night’s service. Throughout the day, I brainstorm on menus and new dishes with the culinary staff, meet with the sommeliers to discuss wines, and finally with the management team to talk about the needs of guests dining that evening. At night I’m cooking in the kitchen, greeting guests and running service.
4. What do you do when not in the kitchen or on the farm (activities like biking though the vineyards in Dry Creek or kayaking down the Russian River or hiking along the Sonoma Coast)?
Ha! Yes, literally all of those things. We also forage quite a bit both on the land and gather wild seaweeds along the coast.
5. Which SingleThread offering/s are you proudest of and still consider “a best kept secret”?
Our best kept secret is our in-room dinner offering for guests who stay for two nights at the inn. These guests typically dine at the restaurant the first night, then on the second evening, we offer a really fun, multicourse donabe hot pot dinner. It’s a unique and fun way to have a special night in and it adds another level of enjoyment to their in-room experience.
Single Thread features three 11-course tasting menus—vegetarian, pescatarian, and omnivore—and the Connaughtons’ love of Japanese culture shines throughout. The first course is a collection of intricately crafted single bites—hyper-local selections of impeccably plated vegetables and seafood. The bulk of the seasonal menu is constantly in flux but Dungeness crab, Mt. Lassen trout, Monterey Bay abalone, Sonoma Grains, and assorted treasures from the Connaughtons’ farm feature prominently. Every bite marries California product with Japanese technique, and the results are uniformly magnificent without being the slightest bit fussy.
To gain a well-rounded understanding of the Single Thread experience please go to their website: https://singlethreadfarms.com/
by Arrnott Olssen
Editor Rogue Homme