COOKWARE INNOVATOR STANLEY CHENG AND HIS WIFE, HELEN, SHARE THEIR ENTHUSIASM FOR GREAT WINE AT A FALL HARVEST DINNER
Winery owner and cookware innovator Stanley Cheng and his wife, Helen, host a harvest gathering to remember in Napa.
Stanley Cheng changed your life. You probably just don’t know it. Cheng was studying mechanical engineering at Oregon State in 1971 when inspiration struck. He returned to his native Hong Kong, bachelor’s degree in hand and ideas to revolutionize cooking in mind, and converted his family’s aluminum manufacturing plant to the production of cookware. In 1985, he introduced the first line of hard-anodized nonstick cookware on the market, Circulon. A second line, Anolon, followed in 1989. Kitchens have never been the same.
Today, his company, Meyer Corporation, U.S., and its brands, including Anolon, Circulon, Ruffoni, Farberware, Ayesha Curry, Rachael Ray, and Bonjour, cover the market with bakeware, barware, and every kind of cookware. Ever the innovator, Stanley’s latest ventures include the titanium-based Hestan NanoBond
cookware and the app-driven Hestan Cue Smart Cooking System. (Hestan, by the way, is a portmanteau of Helen and Stanley.)
Of course, fine cooking is best complemented by fine wine, another longtime love of Stanley and his wife, Helen. In 1996, they pursued that love, purchasing an 80-acre cattle ranch in Napa, California, and transforming it into the award-winning Hestan Vineyards, specializing in varietals of the Bordeaux region of France.
A coveted invitation to dinner at the Chengs’ Tuscan-inspired home, which anchors the property, results in an evening of oldworld charm, modern culinary technology, artful table setting, and, of course, fine wine. At harvesttime, dinner is extra special.
“This time of year at Hestan is warm and welcoming. It’s quiet and comforting,” Stanley says. “When people come over, they really appreciate the beauty of the place.”
Planning the meal starts with choosing the wine. “Depending on the company, we’ll choose wines that are older and more delicate and pair them with younger vintages,” Stanley says. “Then we’ll match that to the menu.”
Philip Tessier, Hestan Smart Cooking’s culinary director, assists in developing the menu. “He’s very creative and has a wonderful palate,” Helen says. “The meal will not only be beautifully presented, but also very tasty—which is my number one concern, always!”
Beautiful presentation is made much simpler when there’s gorgeous tableware from which to choose. The Chengs’ collection includes delicate Chinese porcelain, classic sterling flatware Helen likes to mix and match, and an enviable stockpile of “Flora Danica” plates—a one-of-a-kind, hand-painted Danish service produced by Royal Copenhagen. Its unique patterns are based on a botanical compendium created in the 1760s for King Frederick V.
Helen loves the thrill of scouring antiques stores for tableware. She purchased the “Flora Danica” plates at auction. “Having beautiful serveware,” she says, “really enhances the dining experience, no? More often than not, it becomes a conversation piece.”
For this gathering, the table is set with thoughtful relaxed formality and features a sophisticated combination of texture and quiet color. Linen table runners printed with a green-and-white pattern drape across the table to anchor each place setting. Bleached wood-bead placemats underscore amber glass chargers, which frame the “Flora Danica” dinner plates.
The evening starts in the living room with champagne, skewers of grilled shrimp and Padrón peppers, and avocado-and-grape bruschetta. An amuse-bouche of caviar on corn cakes begins dinner, followed by an endive and pear salad, brown-butter-laced pumpkin risotto, and a main course of coq au vin, Hasselback potatoes, and glazed carrots. A dense, delicious apple pie finishes the meal.
Altogether, it’s a culinary experience made richer by excellent wine and easy conversation—a harvesttime celebration of nature, family, and friends.
Stanley and Helen Cheng toast the wine harvest with Hestan Vineyards Chardonnay, which was served at the White House in 2011. Their sun-filled dining room boasts a candlelit crystal chandelier once owned by opera legend Maria Callas. “Echo Lake” glass hurricanes are from Simon Pearce.
Opposite The main course, coq au vin, is—appropriately—wine-based. Hand-painted dinner plates rest on glass chargers from Villeroy & Boch and wood-bead placemats from Kim Seybert. Gorham sterling flatware from Replacements Inc. adds vintage luxury. Table runners are made of “Montrose Linen” from Lee Jofa’s Aerin collection.Clockwise from top left Dinner starts with caviar on corn cakes. Culinary director Philip Tessier checks on Stanley’s progress preparing glazed carrots with the Hestan Cue Smart Cooking System, an app that integrates induction burner and pan, guiding the user through a recipe with easy instructions and videos. Refreshing avocado-and-grape bruschetta on Waterford’s “Enis” tray.