Chef Dustin Valette began his restaurant career at the age of thirteen washing dishes at Catelli’s in his hometown of Geyserville, California. Two years later he took an apprenticeship at Chateau Souverain, a Francis Ford Coppola Estate, where he worked under Executive Chef Martin Courtman, beginning the twenty-plus year culinary journey toward his dream of opening a restaurant dedicated to showcasing the rich bounty and beautiful ingredients of his Sonoma County roots.
Valette honed his craft in some of the most celebrated restaurants on the West Coast, including the Michelin-starred Aqua in San Francisco and Napa Valley’s Bouchon. Additional credits include Hokus at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Honolulu, a five-star, five-diamond property; the exclusive North Ranch Country Club in Westlake Village, California; and VOX Restaurant & Wine Lounge in Henderson, Nevada. Most recently, Valette spent six years as Executive Chef of Dry Creek Kitchen, a Charlie Palmer restaurant in downtown Healdsburg. At Dry Creek Kitchen, he gathered great acclaim for the strong relationships he cultivated with local farmers and purveyors in order to provide the restaurant with the area’s freshest and most unique ingredients. Valette was known for his exceptional ability to pair some of the country’s best wines with his intense, flavorful and dynamic cuisine.
The idea of Valette Restaurant began nearly two decades ago over a glass of wine shared between two brothers, Dustin and Aaron Garzini, while sitting at their father’s house overlooking the expansive Alexander Valley. At the time, Aaron was establishing himself at John Ash in Santa Rosa as a dynamic server and sommelier; and Dustin was in New York finetuning the culinary craft that would be his life long passion. The two dreamed of opening a restaurant which featured the breadth and depth of ingredients Sonoma County has to offer. It would serve high quality, yet honest and approachable food; offer impeccable service and house a collection of boutique, small production wines. In 2015, Valette Restaurant opened its doors to the public, showcasing 47 years of combined restaurant experience, and a deep passion and dedication to Sonoma Country and its food and wine purveyors and producers.
Originally from Sonoma County, Valette is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He currently resides with his wife, their two young daughters and two dogs in Downtown Healdsburg, a block away from the restaurant. During the summer months Chef Valette travels to the Healdsburg Farmer’s market and carries back the bounty of local produce in a classic Red Flyer wagon. Valette is also an avid home winemaker of classic Bordeaux varietals, which he hand harvests from his uncle’s vineyard in Alexander Valley, though he will proclaim he is a better chef than winemaker.