A Native Son Who Knows His Grill…

It’s not often when you get to talk to a Napa or Sonoma native professional. It’s not surprising really. A lot of top pros want to come here to make their bones. Being in a great climate and surrounded by gorgeous fields, with incredible wine and dining doesn’t hurt either. In short, why wouldn’t a top pro want to come here? So it was fun, when interviewing Joe O’Donnell, Exec Chef of Petaluma’s Seared Restaurant for the NSI quiz to learn that he is a Petaluma native.

Exec Chef Joe O’Donnell

“I haven’t always stayed here. Worked in Arizona, San Francisco, Sausalito. But when I got the opportunity to come back I was ecstatic and I’ve been here at Seared for the last 7 years.” Glad he did as grilled steak is at the top of the Insider’s fav meals and so Joe was a natural for the NSI quiz. Seared is participating in the Sonoma County Restaurant Week. from Feb 19-28. Click here for special menu. Cheers and enjoy.

What was last night’s dinner? I had something off my menu that I call Chicken & Milk but on our menu is called Chicken & Dumplings. Here’s the Seared menu description – Roasted Mary’s chicken, gnocchi “dumplings” wild mushrooms, Swiss Chard, cioppolini onions, chicken jus.


Favorite drink? I’m a big fan of bourbon, so if I can get a bourbon based Manhattan I’m happy.

Favorite music? I like old time reggae.. give me some Jimmy Cliff and I’m happy with a little old time rock n’ roll thrown in.

Favorite thing about living and working in Sonoma? Oh for a chef, it’s the bounty all around. Great farmers, suppliers, incredible meat, seafood and vegetables.

Favorite place to dine in Sonoma besides Seared? I love to sit on the patio of the Petaluma Yacht Club in downtown.

What makes a great restaurant? A lot of it comes down to the staff. To be a top notch restaurant all the staff has to put in a lot of hours and be totally committed. If you got that, then you’re all on the same page and can make something special happen.

Any brush with celebrity? Ludacris the rapper came in and Matt Cain, the ex-Giants pitcher as well.

Any wine, restaurant or trip on your bucket list? It may be a cliche, but I would love to go to French Laundry. Just the pinnacle of fine dining.

Chicken & Dumplings

Final thoughts? What can I say, 2020 was a real challenge. And when we move back indoors it’s going to be another challenge. But please let people know we’re not going anywhere and we do our best to keep everyone safe and have a great meal.

Kung Pao Prawns
Sonoma County Restaurant Week Menu