There aren’t a lot of self-taught chefs out there who’ve accomplished a lot at a young age and are still on the rise. Daniel Patterson, a cerebral chef if there ever was one, isn’t your ordinary chef. He skipped culinary school and opened his own restaurant, Babette’s in Sonoma, at age 25.
He was awarded Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine in 1997 and Rising Star Chef by San Francisco Focus that same year. His success at Babette’s led him to open Elisabeth Daniel in San Francisco in 2000 with his wife and business partner Elisabeth Ramsay.
The accolades continued: The restaurant was nominated Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation in 2001. And after openingCoi in 2006, Patterson was named Chef of the Year by San Francisco Magazine in 2007. The James Beard Foundation recognized Patterson again in 2009 and 2010 with a nomination for Best Chef: Pacific.
A thinking man’s chef, Patterson presents his signature cerebral brand of California cuisine at his fine dining mecca in the North Beach neighborhood. Garnering an international reputation for combining acutely seasonal items with quietly and elegantly innovative technique, Coi (which means tranquil) earned two Michelin Stars and four stars by the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008.
Not content with merely stimulating palates, Patterson aims to stimulate minds as well, exploring the role that our sense of smell plays in the way that we experience the world around us. His first book, Aroma: the Magic of Essential Oils in Food and Fragrance, co-authored by Mandy Aftel of Atelier Perfumes was published in 2004. Emphasizing the importance of aromas, which often act as triggers for emotional responses in the diner, Patterson analyzes the close connection between scent and memory. Already at work on his second book, the prolific Patterson has also written for New York Times, Food & Wine magazine, and San Francisco Magazine.
He also had a hand in opening casual sandwich joint Il Cane Rosso with Bracina’s Chef-owner Lauren Kiino. When he is not cooking, writing, or opening restaurants, Patterson attends food conferences, where he sates and stimulates his endless culinary curiosity.