UC Davis’ Mondavi Institute brings ‘Great Chefs’ program to campus

Local foodies take note: in September, the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at UC Davis will open its doors to the public for the first time ever as it launches its Great Chefs Program.

The first event on Sept. 13 will feature chef Daniel Olivella, a native of Spain who owns B44 Catalan Bistro in San Francisco and Barlata Tapas Bar in Austin, Texas.

In the morning, 24 attendees will cook with Olivella in the Mondavi Institute’s kitchen and then eat lunch with the chef. In the afternoon, Olivella will host a cooking demonstration and discussion with a larger group. The afternoon session will also include Spanish wine and tapas tastings.

Clare Hasler-Lewis, executive director of the Mondavi Institute, which houses the world’s only LEED Platinum winery, brewery and food processing facility, said Olivella was selected for his expertise in Spanish food and wine.

“He is a breadth of not only culinary expertise but also wine knowledge that I think is going to be very enjoyable,” Hasler-Lewis said.

Olivella began his career in his hometown of Vilafranca del Penedes in Spanish wine country. He trained at Chicago’s La Paella and worked at Zuni Café in San Francisco before opening his restaurants B44 Catalan Bistro, and in 2009, Barlata Tapas Bar in Oakland.

Olivella and his family moved to Austin and opened another Barlata in 2013; the Oakland Barlata is closing this summer so that Olivella can focus on his Austin restaurant.

Barlata’s extensive menu, which Hasler-Lewis praised for its innovative tapas, features nine paellas (including one made with Maine lobster) and platos such as a beef and chorizo burger.

Pricier than a meal at his restaurants, attending the morning session with Olivella costs $250 and includes access to the afternoon lecture, which costs $50.

Hasler-Lewis said the Great Chefs program will feature one chef per quarter. Olivella’s appearance will be followed in February by chef Patrick Mulvaney of Mulvaney B&L. The Mondavi Institute is also in negotiations to bring to campus a chef from Napa in the spring, Hasler-Lewis said.

“We’ve never opened up the facility to the public like this,” Hasler-Lewis said. “It’s a state-of-the-art facility at a top food and beverage institute in the country. It’s going to be very unique.”

Editor’s note: This article was updated July 18 to correct the spelling of Clare Hasler-Lewis‘ name.