He's being coy about his Italian-themed menu.
Auction Napa Valley
Credit: © Briana Marie Photography for Napa Valley Vintners

Francis Ford Coppola knows how to put on a show. And that's exactly what the film-director-turned-winemaker plans to do as chair of this year's Auction Napa Valley.

The Napa Valley Vintners-hosted annual four-day fundraiser will commence June 1 with a welcome party and culminate with, of course, an auction of epic proportions paired with a dinner at Meadowood Napa Valley. And donning a chef's hat will be Coppola himself.

That's right: Coppola won't just chair this event—he'll whip up each dish himself.

But this is the real plot twist for this particular show: Coppola won't be alone. He'll be joined by 30 of the event's 1,000 guests, who'll roll up their sleeves alongside the amateur chef to hand roll gnocchi, slice steak from the bone, and simmer a basil-based sauce.

While Coppola is being somewhat coy about his Italian-themed menu—a well-planned surprise is a key component to show business, he explained exclusively to Food & Wine—we do know the multi-course meal will feature simple foods made from quality ingredients: traditional antipasto, gnocchi served with two sauces, and grilled porterhouse steak.

"Food has always been an important element in Francis' life; the kitchen was the heart of his Italian home," explained Patsy McGaughy, communications director of Napa Valley Vintners. "In addition to being a legendary movie director and now a successful vintner, he also owns several restaurants and resorts, most of which serve food that is prepared in the style he grew up with. His goal is to embody that same spirit of the communal table and food being at the heart of the family experience for our auction guests."

Area chefs John Sorensen and Alejandro Ayala will work with Coppola and those select guests to prepare the meal, while Coppola's family members—including wife, Eleanor; daughter, Sofia; son, Roman; and granddaughter, Gia—will organize other aspects of the event alongside some 400 community volunteers and 450 Napa Valley Vintners members.

Since 1981, the auction has given about $170 million to community health and children's education nonprofits, McGaughy says. Those donations are the proceeds of the auction's enviable items: in the past, the auction has featured tours in wine regions throughout the world, a private concert experience with John Legend, and collector cars—prizes that sold for more than $1 million each.