Donald Link began working in the kitchen at age 15 washing dishes and soon began cooking professionally. After years of experience working in Louisiana restaurants, Donald moved to San Francisco in 1993. After one year at the wildly popular Cha Cha Cha, he attended the California Culinary Academy.
During this time Link cooked at many San Francisco restaurants, including the eccentric Flying Saucer, the newly opened Scala’s Bistro, Cole Valley’s Zazie, and at the Elite Café as Sunday Brunch Chef.
In 1995, Link pursued an externship at Susan Spicer’s Bayona and continued on to become sous chef. In 1997, he returned to San Francisco to open Jardinière with Traci Des Jardin. This soon led to an executive chef opportunity at the Elite Café in San Francisco’s Fillmore District where he received raved reviews and appeared on local cooking shows and participated in many charity events around Northern California.
In partnership with Tom Clendening, owner of the Elite Café, Link opened the critically acclaimed MOJO in Palo Alto, Ca. He received 3½ stars from the San Jose Mercury News, was named one of the top three restaurants on the Peninsula by San Francisco Magazine, and was hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “…probably the premiere chef doing Creole food in the Bay Area.” Link continued to participate in special events such as Sonoma Wine Maker’s Dinners and Bill Graham’s New Orleans by the Bay where he was the featured chef two years in a row.
Since opening Herbsaint in 2000, Link has been named Chef of the Year by New Orleans Magazine, a top ten Chefs to Watch by Forbes Magazine, and a 2003 StarChefs.com Rising Star. Link’s restaurant empire has since grown to include Cochon, Cochon Butcher, private event facility Calcasieu, and Cochon Lafayette. In 2007, Link won James Beard Best Chef South, and Cochon was nominated for James Beard Best New Restaurant in America and listed by The New York Times as “one of the top 3 restaurants that count.” In 2012, Link was nominated for James Beard Outstanding Chef award for his work at Herbsaint.