About Chef Erika Heinemann
Chef Erika Heinemann’s passion for food and wine is easily traced to a pair of legendary culinary icons and two of her favorite chefs: Thomas Keller, chef owner of the world-renowned French Laundry, for his artistry, commitment to perfection and, ultimately, because “it’s all about finesse.” Her other major influence is Alice Waters, chef owner of Chez Panisse, because of her contributions to the culinary arts including her dedication to seasonality, sustainable farming and the philosophy of serving only the highest quality, organic products.
Erika grew her career in the Napa Valley after graduating with honors from the California Culinary Academy (now Le Cordon Bleu) in San Francisco. After graduating from CCA, Chef Erika trained under Chef Thomas Keller at The French Laundry, hailed by the New York Times as the “most exciting dining experience in the U.S.”
In 2001, Erika began specializing in food and wine pairing as executive chef for Duckhorn Wine Company in St. Helena. While at Duckhorn, she developed one of the first consistent food and wine pairing programs in Napa Valley. Four years later she launched Savvy Wine Food, with a mission to be “the” go-to source for wineries wanting to raise the bar through customized food and wine pairing programs, education, and uniquely individual wine-tasting experiences.
Savvy Relocates Back Home to Santa Barbara
Seeing an opportunity to bring her passion and talent for cooking, wine and impeccable service back home to a budding food and wine region, Erika relocated Savvy Wine Food in 2011 to Santa Barbara, California, where, as a personal chef and boutique caterer she focuses on unique, seasonal and often wine-centric menus for individuals, families and intimate parties while continuing development of artisan food accompaniments for wineries and other tasting rooms in the region.