In dining, as in life, mastering the details propels good into the realm of sublime. For Robbie Nowlin, a focus on the fine points goes back to the earliest days of his working life. In his first job at 14, he remembers helping his mom at an Olive Garden, sometimes making bowls of the chain’s famed never-ending salad. Instead of merely plopping the greens into the container and moving on to the next one, Nowlin made sure to place exactly two green olives on top of each large bowl and fan out the sliced tomatoes.
Once Nowlin’s culinary career began for real, he honed that obsession with details as a young chef at Jason Dady’s The Lodge and later at the pinnacle of finesse, The French Laundry in Napa Valley, California.