About Balboa Cafe Mill Valley
Tucked into the bucolic town of Mill Valley, just north of San Francisco, Balboa Cafe Mill Valley (BCMV) brings the fresh flavors of California to its modern American Bistro menu. Chef Howard Ko believes strongly in the philosophy of knowing where his food comes from, that’s why he is committed to partnering with local farmers and foragers, as well as sourcing sustainable proteins for his dishes. BCMV offers the most exciting wine and cocktail experience in Mill Valley with unrivaled selections of premium spirits and an extensive collection of wine that is selected to complement Chef Howard Ko’s menu. The 90-seat restaurant is warmly inviting with classic interiors and modern accents where locals and visitors alike gather for weekend brunch, weekday lunch and dinner.
Ben “Wyatt” Dufresne,
PlumpJack Group Executive Chef
Ben “Wyatt” Dufresne began his career in the culinary arts as a teenager working at a fish market in his hometown of Scotia, New York. It was there that he first took note of the importance of local, fresh ingredients in cooking. Discovering his fascination in the natural sciences, he graduated from Bates College in Maine with a double degree in biology and environmental studies. After interning with an organic vegetable farm, Ben spent a year developing his cooking skills in restaurants in Colorado and Vermont.
Admittedly following his love of skiing through each of these states, Dufresne found his niche when he moved to Lake Tahoe in 2002 and began his culinary career at PlumpJack Cafe under then-Executive Chefs Jeffrey Powell and Larry Dunning. Chef Powell was known to use nicknames for each of the members of his kitchen staff. When Powell met Ben Dufresne, he took note of his Wyatt Earp-like mustache and immediately gave him the nickname “Wyatt.” The name stuck and Ben quickly became known as “Wyatt” all over Lake Tahoe.
Dufresne expanded his culinary palate while serving as a chef in a number of well-known Lake Tahoe destinations, including West Shore Cafe and LuLou’s Restaurant. In 2010 he came full circle as the Executive Chef at PlumpJack Cafe. After five years at PlumpJack Cafe, Wyatt moved to Sacramento for his wife’s residency in Emergency medicine. At that time, PlumpJack decided to bring him on as an executive chef at PlumpJack supporting new restaurant openings, existing restaurant support, menu development and overseeing PlumpJack catering.
Dufresne’s cuisine draws off his love for sustainable, organic, and seasonal ingredients, as well as his educational background in science. His knowledge of how things grow, the anatomy of animals and fish, and the environmental impact of sourcing sustainable products has a great influence on his menu selections. His love for science and nature helps balance his cooking techniques between cutting edge styles to classic favorites with keen attention to local organic produce.
About PlumpJack Group
BCMV is part of the PlumpJack Group, a hospitality management company with a diverse collection of properties that spans across Northern California and beyond.
The PlumpJack journey began in 1992 when Gavin Newsom founded the first PlumpJack Wine Store on Fillmore Street in San Francisco, with the goal of making the experience of wine discovery more fun and approachable for all customers — the connoisseur and the uninitiated alike.
More than two decades later, that vision of discovery and approachability has unfolded and expanded well beyond wine. Boasting a portfolio that includes award-winning wineries, several restaurants and bars, nightlife establishments, wine & spirits retail, and luxurious hotel accommodations, PlumpJack has established itself as the signature Northern California lifestyle and hospitality brand. If your vision includes relaxation, recreation, locally sourced cuisine, or simply a fabulous winter coat or a smoky bottle of American whiskey, there’s a PlumpJack for that.