Erna Kubin-Clanin, owner of Oakhurst’s world-renowned Erna’s Elderberry House Restaurant and Chateau du Sureau, will be honored March 9, with the California Restaurant Association - Central California Chapter’s “Lifetime Achievement Award.”
The presentation will be made at the association’s 2014 Best of the Valley Restaurant Awards dinner at Fresno’s Double Tree Hilton Hotel.
Kubin-Clanin, who once majored in theater design at Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts, was very honored when she heard she would be receiving the prestigious award.
“I am honored and grateful to receive this recognition,” Kubin-Clanin said. “I’m grateful to know that quality service and the finer things in life are still appreciated.”
Kubin-Clanin gave credit to her staff for its contributions to the restaurant’s success.
“All my team deserves this recognition as one cannot do it alone,” Kubin-Clanin said. “I so appreciate my wonderful staff who understands my mission and strives daily to achieve excellence. It is a special group of people who live in Oakhurst, and we are all proud to be a part of the community.”
The Best of the Valley awards, introduced in 1992, is comprised of 32 ‘best of’ categories including breakfast, Asian, Mexican, family dining, pizza, sushi, winery, sports bar, Italian, seafood, bakery, steak, and watering hole.
Erna’s Elderberry House has been named “Most Romantic” restaurant in the Central Valley the past four years in a row.
Both the restaurant and the Chateau du Sureau have attained AAA 5-Diamond and Forbes 5-Star status. The property is also a member of the exclusive world-wide Relais & Chateaux lodging guide. The property has been recognized with the Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef Award, Conde Nast Top 100 US Hotels, Travel Leisure Top 25 Hotels, the Wine Spectator Certificate of Excellence, and the Conde Nast Gold List almost every year since 1995.
Kubin-Clanin said her vision more than 30 years ago was to create a high quality place that offers beauty, with dining and sleeping, combined with the beautiful natural setting of the Mountain Area.
“I wanted my guests to depart with an ultimately fabulous experience, great memories, and an overall sense of feeling special,” Kubin-Clanin said.
What has been created has gained national and international attention from food critics and travel magazines.
One renowned food critic, Craig Claiborne of The New York Times, discovered the Elderberry House close to 30 years ago while visiting the west coast, and wrote: “One of the most elegant and stylish restaurants in the nation is a little-known place nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada some 3,000 feet above sea level ... When a friend proposed that we drive to the Elderberry House, in a presumed cow town named Oakhurst, my mind conjured up ticky-tacky visions of a roadside stand where quaint locals stirred up Mason jars full of jams and jellies.”
Claiborne had Sunday Brunch and two other meals at Erna’s during his stay. He observed Kubin-Clanin was an “extremely energetic, effusive, and enthusiastic sort.”
Kubin-Clanin told Claiborne her earliest training in the kitchen was considered routine in Austria at the time.
“My mother worked for the government, and she enrolled me in a girl’s school, where sewing and cooking were mandatory ... It was simply the ordinary preliminaries for living one’s life as a lady,” Kubin-Clannin told Claiborne.
“When I was old enough, I went to London to study art,” Kubin-Clanin told Claiborne. “I thought that was my goal. And to earn my keep, I worked at Claridge’s as a tea girl, pouring tea out of a canister that was as tall as I was. The waiters would run over and order tea for two or tea for 10 ... and that was the period that changed my life. A co-worker took me under her wing and explained to me all the aspects of a professional kitchen. I was placed in charge of baking and hors d’oeuvre making.
“I have the simplest of tastes, I only want the best.” These words, compliments of Oscar Wilde, can be found over the kitchen door at Erna’s Elderberry House Restaurant on the grounds of Chateau du Sureau. They seem to sum up the exquisite experience of dining at Erna’s Elderberry House and the adjacent Chateau.
Kubin-Clanin said there is no big secret to her success, just a lot of hard work and her unconditional commitment to the fine art of hospitality.
Looking to the future, Kubin-Clanin looks forward to continuing to pamper her loyal guests and friends.
Event tickets are $85 per person and can be obtained by contacting Ferdinandi, (559) 432-0399, ext. 202, firstname.lastname@example.org, or online at calrest.org.