Single what? Kyle who?

The full names are now on the food map. SingleThread is the restaurant and inn that the chef Kyle Connaughton and his wife, Katina Connaughton, opened without much fanfare in early December 2016 in Healdsburg, Calif. The Michelin Guides soon picked up the scent and within 10 months awarded the restaurant two stars. Then the culinary world began to notice.

“It happened very fast,” said the tall, soft-spoken Mr. Connaughton. “And this year we were named ‘the one to watch,’ an impossible thing to get.” He was referring to the “rising star” award that’s part of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants ranking.

Mr. Connaughton’s career has not made him a household name. His jobs have been in the background, in kitchens, not drawing acclaim. Even the restaurant’s name, SingleThread, is puzzling. Mr. Connaughton said they struggled with what to call it; what they chose refers to “a single thread of hospitality,” a unified approach that drives the entire enterprise, which includes a five-room inn.

It’s the first restaurant that Mr. Connaughton, 42, has ever owned, and its almost instant critical success makes it an enviable phenomenon. But it is also the result of years of dreaming and planning, two years of construction and, thanks to investors, a budget in the millions of dollars. Unlike some first-time restaurateurs, Mr. Connaughton is a talented chef who is well-grounded, confident and equipped with years of kitchen and management experience.

But none of these experiences, which deepened his culinary acumen, put him in the limelight, or wrested him from his passion for Japan. “The Japanese have a reverence for repetition and mastery,” he said. “I struggle to get young chefs to understand that it’s not necessary to keep going on to something new.”

The dinner menu at Single Thread is an 11-course tasting with fish and vegetarian options; dishes change daily, though repeats may show up. Wine pairings are offered from the 1,800-bottle cellar, with mostly Californian and European selections.

“I love the Japanese kaiseki format and the way the Japanese express the seasons,” he said. About 70 percent of the dishes, he said, are driven by and depend on the products that he and his wife raise on their five-acre farm in the San Lorenzo vineyard area in Healdsburg.


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