The greatest opportunity to get dressed to the nines, drink hella wine and capture some of your most Instagram-worthy content is a trip to a vineyard. And if you’re really feeling like engulfing yourself in the experience, a trip to Sonoma is certainly a must . J Vineyards & Winery, tucked in the Russian River Valley knows that best. That’s why they launched a three-part culinary residency this summer in collaboration with Chefs Jenny Dorsey, Preeti Mistry, and Shenarri Freeman. With each chef debuting menu takeovers at J’s Bubble Room in Sonoma County, the aim is to encourage conversation and representation in the food and wine industry.
Kicking off July 2022, the three chefs began rotating through two-week culinary residencies with Winemaker Nicole Hitchcock where guests have been able to interact directly with the chefs to learn more about their story, creative process and inspiration for every dish.
Deemed “New York’s Buzziest Chef” Chef Shenarri “Greens” Freeman will be gracing J Vineyards & Winery with her talents — and it’s not an experience she’s taking lightly.
“My initial inspiration for working with J Vineyards & Winery on Shifting the Lens was that it’s a
woman-led series,” she tells ESSENCE. “I love working with other women in the industry, learning from them and learning about their stories. Shifting the Lens to me means changing the scope of how we see the world through food. This is a really unique opportunity to bring our backgrounds and cultures together on a plate.”
And while she’s super-versed in food, she’s excited to learn more about wine pairings.
“I’m going into this experience with an open heart and an open mind,” she says. “I’m looking forward to expanding my knowledge about wine pairings to help elevate my food. As a chef, I think it’s important for us to learn outside of the kitchen and keep our palettes curious.”
The nickname “greens” is also super self-explanatory, with Freeman putting together a completely vegan menu. “After this experience with Shifting the Lens, I want people to understand that vegan food is not one-dimensional,” Freeman shares. “I want people to walk out of this dinner and appreciate the diversity of vegetables. The food that I am cooking today is a testimony of this. My food has its own story to tell, one plate at a time.”
While guests are encouraged to come as they are — the rich ambiance of the vineyard encourage vibrant hues, free-flowing silhouettes and statement accessories. And in case you want to match the custom packaging curated by each chef for their residency — you have golds, pinks and striking blues to choose from. No matter what you wear (a quick scroll through the winery’s page will show the range of patron experiences), just be ready to indulge in some of the best wine California has to offer.
The Shifting the Lens Chefs’ Series residencies are scheduled as follows:
- August 18-21; August 25-28: Chef Preeti Mistry, twice nominated by the James Beard Foundation for “Best Chef of the West,” is the former owner of Oakland’s Juhu Beach Club and Navi Kitchen. Mistry is also known for competing on Top Chef Season 6 and is the co-author of The Juhu Beach Club Cookbook.
- September 29-October 2; October 6-9: Currently living in New York City, Chef Shenarri “Greens” Freeman is a plant-based chef, holistic researcher and health and wellness advocate. Known for her soulful Southern cooking, Freeman has been recently profiled in the New York Times, Bloomberg, and Vogue.
Check out tickets for yourself here.