The Napa Valley Wine Train, one of the few active historic passenger railroads remaining in the U.S., announced Rodrigo Cuadra as its new executive chef. Cuadra has a diverse background of positions at luxury restaurants throughout the country, making him an ideal choice for the Wine Train’s unique dining experiences that create unforgettable memories for passengers. Cuadra will oversee menu development, overall daily operations, and the train’s team of culinary experts, who freshly prepare multi-course gourmet meals aboard the train’s kitchen car.
“We are thrilled to have Chef Rodrigo join our incredible culinary team,” says Nathan Davis, general manager of the Napa Valley Wine Train. “With his extensive background, there is no better candidate to bring a fresh perspective to the Wine Train and Napa Valley’s world-class dining scene.”
A Miami native, Cuadra found his passion at an early age from seeing his grandmother cook and watching American chef Julia Child and French chef Jacques Pepin showcase their skills together on TV. In high school, he enrolled in a “chef in training” culinary program, where he had the opportunity to be trained hands-on at the Mandarin Oriental, Miami. Upon completing the training, he followed his passion and completed a degree in culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University and honed his skills with many Miami mavericks, including Michelle Bernstein, Philippe Ruiz and Clay Conley.
During his chef tenure at the Four Seasons Hotel Miami, he cooked for President George Bush and many celebrities, including Shaquille O’Neil, Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara and Will Smith. He also worked alongside several celebrity chefs at The Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
Professionally trained in classic French cuisine, Cuadra weaved his way up the kitchen ranks, eventually moving to California to work for the renowned Chef Thomas Keller as a sous chef. He polished his technique and culinary approach to be more ingredient-driven, allowing the quality and freshness of his creations to shine.
Cuadra then moved on to work at The Citizen Hotel, Autograph Collection in Sacramento, and opened Golden 1 Center – home of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings – where he was part of a team of chefs who created a country-wide movement to make Sacramento America’s farm-to-fork capital. Cuadra was responsible for enforcing a made-from-scratch program that consisted of 90 percent ingredients procured within 150-mile radius for the guests at the arena.
After nearly a decade in Sacramento, Cuadra took an opportunity as the executive sous chef at the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa Valley, where he was promoted to executive chef a year into his tenure. Now at the helm of the Napa Valley Wine Train’s culinary program, Cuadra will maintain his ingredient-forward philosophy and source the highest-quality ingredients, continuing the train’s reputation as one of the region’s most distinctive restaurants.