The County Bench made it a priority to assemble the best team possible pulling talent from every facet of the restaurant and service industry ultimately putting together a phenomenally talented team that includes Executive Chef Ben Davies and General Manager Erik Fritz. This symphony of talent is orchestrated by the Chandi Family.
Finding the best people was imperative to our success because local people + local ingredients + timeless technique = The County Bench Kitchen + Bar.
Executive Chef Ben Davies
Ben Davies started his culinary journey at 15 washing dishes at a local bakery and later found himself working for multiple pizza places around town. He took a minor detour when he went to college at Chico State as a mechanical engineer major. Ben realized this was the wrong path and attended California Culinary Academy. After finishing, in 2005, Ben landed a job at Mirepoix in Windsor. Here he learned to make everything by hand and wasn’t allowed to use any equipment until he could do the task without. With some time away Ben came back to Mirepoix in 2009. Left to his own devices Ben led the restaurant to a Michelin Star. Before earning a star of his own, Ben gathered experience at Meadowood – starting in 2007 two days after they received two Michelin Stars. 2008 presented Ben with an opportunity to take the plunge into a new opening restaurant, Murray Circle. This is where Ben learned how to break down whole animals and was pushed harder than ever before by Joseph Humphrey. During his time there he was yet again part of a Michelin Star winning staff and maintained the star after becoming Sous Chef. Ben took jobs as Chef de Cuisine at Petite Syrah with Josh Silvers in 2011 and Spoonbar in 2012 with Louis Maldonado. Silvers and Maldonado taught Ben that family comes first and that accolades mean nothing if you have no one to share them with. Accompanied by a focus on family, Ben decided to hang his hat at The County Bench + Bar, the sixth restaurant Ben has opened in his already impressive career.
General Manager Erik Fritz
Erik began his culinary education at Oklahoma State University where he earned his B.S. in Hotel and Restaurant Administration. He continued to grow his education at the Culinary Institute of America where he studied the Advanced Culinary Arts Program. This led to his tenure at The French Laundry, a critically-acclaimed Napa County restaurant and one of a handful of three-star Michelin restaurants in America. Erik dedicated over four years of his services to The French Laundry, during his time there he gained experience as a food runner, back waiter, and captain. Erik took the skills he developed and implemented his leadership into Delfina Restaurant Group in San Francisco. His knowledge of wine, impeccable service, and commitment to excellence led him to managing Locanda where he managed the wine program, as well as Delfina, and Pizzeria Delfina. He directed the wine program, maintaining a wine list of over 200 wines with a focus on European varietals. Erik cultivated efficient and consistent customer service during his tenure at Delfina Restaurant Group. In July of 2014, Erik joined the Glen Ellen Star as Assistant Manager while studying for his M.B.A. in leadership, human resources, finance, supply chain, and data analysis from Sonoma State University. Erik has now brought his talents, experience, education, and knowledge to The County Bench Kitchen + Bar, where he has built a stellar staff and helped elevate the restaurant on all fronts.