The boyfriend/girlfriend catering chefs known for their ultra-seasonal, locally sourced ingredients had a restaurant in mind from the start.
"We've been catering for the last 3 1/2 years, and we always planned on using catering as a stepping stone to brick-and-mortars," said Matthew Rogers.
He and pastry chef Brittney Yracheta softly opened up Heirloom, a new Templeton restaurant on the 46 West, in November, in an area where mostly wineries and oak trees dominate the landscape.
Winery work folk needed a place for their lunch break, and visitors now have a new food spot to nourish themselves between wine tastings—including tasting on-site, as Heirloom shares a contemporary, Western cowboy-inspired barn space with the latest collective of local wineries called Wines of the West. The collective includes Purple Cowboy, a Paso winery named from the Central Coast's ancestral cowboy winemakers on horses known for their purple wine-stained teeth.
"This one kind of jumped in our laps," Rogers said.
He met those involved with Wines of the West and Clayhouse Winemaker Blake Kuhn while working on the new Heirloom space. Rogers said he still needs to drink "bottles upon bottles" to further his research.
"It's a great company to work with, and you can't pass up on this location. It's a great spot, especially come summer," the chef said.
Chef Rogers (who gained delicious local fame as executive chef of Hatch in Paso and has a decade of impressive chef work in LA) is serving hero sandwiches, salads, rotating bites, and upscale plates.
Rogers said he tends to believe chefs can either buy run-of-the-mill produce and have to: 1) "chef the s&*t out of it to make it awesome" or 2) find yourself some top-quality ingredients and let them "sing for themselves."
- Photo By Beth Giuffre
- MAN, MYTH, LEGEND You're looking at one of the reasons people consider our county a destination. Chef Matthew Rogers is tireless and creative beyond anything you've seen in a food magazine—you want him to be in charge of what you eat. Paired with Cordon Bleu-trained pastry chef Brittney Yracheta, the couple is transforming the way we eat on the Central Coast.
"We're definitely No. 2," he said. "We try to source the best possible quality ingredients we can find. We just frame what a farmer does ... we highlight what they do and put it on a plate."
When I first ate at Heirloom, red kabocha squash soup was listed as a chef Rogers' special, and chef Yracheta's fresh baked lemon, ginger, and salted chocolate chip cookies were highlighted as dessert. These cookies are not your typical sugar bombs. Yracheta is a French pastry graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. She's got the touch.
For the rapidly rotating menu of specials, Rogers and Yracheta show appreciation for their farmers by listing all their names on a proper love note pinned to the wall.
"I don't want to tie myself down to any season," said Rogers, who will design his menu around the box of veggies he receives fresh from the farmer or farmers' market that morning. "Yes, we have seasons, but there's so much going on in between ... ."
A few hours after these ingredients are picked, these local delights are the bites we devour on the menu.
- Photo Courtesy Of Heirloom Restaurant
- OUT YONDER ON 46 Located along Highway 46 West, hungry and thirsty folk can find the newest stop on the wine trail. In the front, Heirloom Kitchen offers an exciting farm fresh lunch menu, while Clayhouse and Purple Cowboy wines are poured in a traditional wine salon setting. Out back is the casual, eclectic CANtina, focused on canned wines from If You See Kay and Alloy Wine Works.
Chef Rogers' refreshing and light shaved vegetable salad perfectly illustrates Heirloom's mission of sourcing a variety of locally farmed food for the lunch menu—it's made with Bautista Farms beets, Francisco Velazquez Farm carrots, Dragon Spring Farms apples, Big John's Farm fennel, mixed with blue cheese and walnuts and dressed in a citrus vinaigrette.
Diners can order at the counter and find a patio spot to eat, and then, while waiting for the food to come up, they can grab a canned chardonnay from Central Coast Alloy Wine Works or a can of If You See Kay Central Coast sangria from the fridge in the CANtina, or they can opt for a full Wines of the West tasting kitty-corner to the Heirloom.
I recently tried something that would make my Italian relatives eccitato: Padrino's porchetta (pork shoulder), served with white polenta, bitter greens, and wild fennel pollen. If you are to try anything with pork on Heirloom's menu, you'll want to walk on over to the wine bar for your glass of elegant, full-bodied 2017 Clayhouse syrah from Paso Robles.
I also recommend a tasting of either the Purple Cowboy Bordeaux blend or a glass of Purple Cowboy sparkling wine, two of my favorites from the tasting.
The opulent, fine-crafted Bordeaux blend is mostly cab, with merlot, cab franc, and petit verdot, with grapes all hand-picked in Paso. I tried intensely complex wine with chef's melt-in-your-mouth braised beef cheeks in a well-balanced hazelnut gremolata and jus, served with a pomme purée that was light and dreamy-creamy.
- Photo Courtesy Of Heirloom Restaurant
- FRESHLY PICKED, PAIRED PERFECTLY Heirloom Kitchen offers a seasonal selection of farm fresh dishes, while Clayhouse and Purple Cowboy wines are poured in the wine saloon just steps away from the food counter.
"I personally like my Bordeauxs blended more than straight cabs," Kuhn said. "Aromatically, there's a lot more going on, and texturally as well."
Rogers' food is meant for Kuhn's wine. You want to start (or end) with the fresh and lively Purple Cowboy sparkling wine made in the méthode champenoise fashion, with grapes coming from Arroyo Grande.
Chef Rogers said he hired a botanist to redo the neighboring hillside to plant a vegetable garden for food-to-table ingredients for Heirloom.
Beyond ultra-local ingredients, what makes Heirloom special is the partnership with Wines of the West. Just as Rogers and Yracheta intuitively knew how well their culinary talents would collide effortlessly in beautiful meals, so they had an inkling that Kuhn's elegant local wines and fun and refreshing cans of wine would also pair well.
"We wanted both the food to not only highlight the wine, but the wine to highlight the food as well," Rogers said. "And hopefully we've done that." Δ
Flavor writer Beth Giuffre is riding off into the sunset, pardner. Send trail snacks and wineskins to firstname.lastname@example.org.