K-J Introduces: Chef Sarena Stern

From the time Sarena Stern, Chef at Partake by K-J, could stand on a chair to reach the counter, she has been in a kitchen. Inspired by her idol Julia Child, Sarena started baking and selling her goods at local markets to help animal charities. Even at that young age, it was clear that Sarena was destined for a career in a professional kitchen.

After she earned degrees from the Natural Gourmet in New York City and from the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley, Sarena headed out to hone her skills. Her love of travel, strong work ethic and desire to learn took Sarena from various small restaurants and bakeries in Idaho and Vermont to The Herbfarm outside of Seattle, a fine dining farm-to-table restaurant.

Focusing her career on high quality restaurants with a strong farming philosophy, Sarena found her way to Primo in Maine where she worked under James Beard award-winning Chef Melissa Kelly. At Primo, farm-to-table wasn’t just an aspiration, it was a reality, with most of the ingredients coming straight from the gardens and farm. After Primo, Sarena had the opportunity to work with a small artisanal cheese maker in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and began baking breads more seriously.

She eventually found her way back to California where she was lucky enough to work under Michelin-starred Chef Douglas Keane at Cyrus in Healdsburg. Her attention to detail, willingness to experiment and dedication to creating dishes with the best ingredients possible made her the chef she is today. Sarena continues to fuel her culinary passion as the sous chef at Partake by K-J by creating garden-inspired dishes with fresh produce from the K-J Wine Estate & Gardens.

Watch for blog posts straight from at Partake by K-J where Chef Sarena will give you a sneak peek into the kitchen!