A fresh menu inspired by a Bay Area sculptor is perfect for an alfresco dinner

Grilled chicken brined in Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with a similar crisp white wine or a fruity Rhône-style red like Syrah or Granache.

For as long as he can remember, Kevin Christison has been drawn to both art and food. The 34-year-old bronze sculptor, whose work has been exhibited in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as well as numerous galleries and private collections, recalls unscrewing the caps of all the spice jars in the kitchen as a child to inhale the aromas.

Keven Christison and cousin Christopher Manning garnish a salad of garden greens. Staglin Family Vineyard hosts the artist’s meal.Today, Christison’s approach to creating ― whether he’s sculpting in his Oakland, California, studio or cooking dinner for his wife, Amy, and 2-year-old daughter, Lola ― is to improvise. “The fun lies in arranging, pairing, and celebrating ingredients,” he says. “Just as rewarding is sharing the results with others and feeling that you’ve nailed it.”

For the last few years, the Staglin family, art patrons and owners of Staglin Family Vineyard in Rutherford, California, have teamed up with Christison to offer a wine dinner as an auction item for SFMOMA. The artist, with help last year from cousin Christopher Manning, cooks an elegant meal and serves it to the guests in the winery’s garden.

Christison likes simple dishes with high-impact appearance and flavor. His menu here includes seared scallops with coconut crème fraîche and fried shallots; creamy yellow squash and split pea soup garnished with rock shrimp; quartered chickens brined in wine and tarragon, then grilled (serve with garden greens with vinaigrette); and strawberries steeped in wine and topped with rich mascarpone cream.


Up to 2 days ahead: Make mascarpone cream.

Up to 1 day ahead: Mix coconut crème fraîche and fry shallots for scallops; make soup; brine chicken.

Up to 4 hours ahead: Poach strawberries.

1 hour before serving: Heat grill; start risotto.

30 minutes before serving: Begin grilling chicken; assemble salad.

20 minutes before serving: Cook scallops.

10 minutes before serving: Heat soup.


Seared Scallops with Shallots and Coconut Cream

Yellow Squash and Split Pea Soup with Shrimp

Wine-Brined Grilled Chicken

Pea Risotto

Merlot Strawberries with Vanilla Cream