Tao Yuan is the culmination of the nearly two decades that Cara and Cecile Stadler have spent by each other's sides in the kitchen. Though this mother-daughter pair teamed up professionally in 2009, when they formed Gourmet Underground, which was one of Beijing’s only private fine-dining clubs, Tao marks their first foray into opening a restaurant together.
While Cara grew up making Shanghainese classics in a kitchen infused with ginger and shaoxing wine, her training is far more global. Beginning her career at 16, she worked at Café Rouge in Berkeley, followed by Striped Bass in Philadelphia, before heading to Paris to hone her fine dining skills. While in France, after staging at Guy Savoy, Cara worked at Gordon Ramsay Au Trianon Palace, his two-Michelin star restaurant in Versailles.
At the same time as she was learning from these modern masters, Cara began noticing what has become her core guiding concept – what she calls, “the perfect bite.” Specifically, she became fascinated with how, in a single bite, flavors harmonize in a sequence of moments, supported by the cadence of texture. Since then, Cara is constantly striving to put both new “perfect bites” and some classics on the table.
With the aim of finding more flavors and texture to bring to this concept, Cara headed to Asia in 2008. After working briefly in Singapore at French-Japanese restaurant Saint Pierre and heading up Gourmet Underground in Beijing in 2009, Cara moved to Shanghai and began her long-standing relationship with one of China’s most esteemed restaurateurs, David Laris. Starting out as sous-chef of Laris – at the time, one of Asia’s fine-dining landmarks – Cara later launched David’s private dining restaurant, 12 Chairs, which has been hailed one of Asia’s best restaurants by The Miele Guide.
Cara returned to the US in November 2011, eager to work with her mother to bring to Brunswick her unique twist of contemporary Asian fusion combined with the bounty of local Maine flavors.