PHOTO BY DAVID ZICKL
By Melissa Larsen
From the most influential educators and business people to the biggest trendsetters and tastemakers, these locals are tops when it comes to making the Valley the best place to call home.
Most Influential in Valley Food: Kevin Binkley, Chef/Owner, Binkley’s Restaurant
How did you get into the restaurant world? My first job at age 14 was at TCBY. Ever since then, I have almost always had a job in restaurants. I enjoyed the people, hours, immediate gratification and, mostly, the food.
Biggest professional accomplishment? Opening Binkley’s in 2004. I can’t believe we pulled it off. The hardest thing I have ever done, and it’s still far from easy.
Most rewarding part of your job? Three things: 1. When a customer tells me it was the best dining experience of their life. 2. When a dish comes together so perfectly it makes me want to cry (doesn’t happen that often). 3. When a cook really gets it, digs in, loves it and is hungry for more. This rarely happens.
Best dish: Kumamoto oyster with tomato water, wasabi and uni at Nobuo at the Teeter House. I think I could eat around 60 of them in one meal.
Hidden Valley gem: Yasu Sushi Bistro. This place is great and should be packed every night. The beef tongue (and everything else) is amazing.
Destination for relaxing: Flagstaff. Life slows down up there. I particularly love it in the summer. Some good food there too: Coppa Cafe, Pizzicletta, Brix and Diablo Burger. One of my favorite spots is hiking up from Lockett Meadow to the Inner Basin. It’s beautiful, and my cellphone doesn’t work.