Chef John Madriaga of Spruce - Biography

San Francisco, CA

December 2012

John Madriaga’s passion for cooking began at a very young age. Helping his mother prepare family meals, he quickly discovered food’s power to both unite and inspire. After graduating from San Francisco's California Culinary Academy, Madriaga took a position as a line cook at Woodside’s Michelin-starred The Village Pub, where he remained for two years, honing his skills under the direction of executive chef Mark Sullivan. In 2008, Madriaga left The Village Pub to work with chef David Kinch at Los Gatos’ Manresa. There, he garnered a great appreciation for vegetable-driven cooking and developed a steadfast adherence to seasonal and local ingredients. After leaving Manresa in 2009, Madriaga began an apprenticeship at Copenhagen's Noma, where he continued to expand his skill set, working strictly with ingredients indigenous to the region.

Upon his return to San Francisco, Madriaga rejoined Bacchus Management Group’s family of restaurants as a line cook at Spruce, and in April 2012, he was promoted to chef de cuisine. “I always knew I would come back and one day run a kitchen for founding partner Tim Stannard and chef Sullivan. It was the feeling of leaving your family for a period of time and returning to show them what you have learned and how you have grown as an individual.” Madriaga possesses a deep appreciation for seasonality and welcomes to the opportunity to utilize all of the Bay Area’s wonderful farms and artisans.

Madriaga maintains a close relationship with the farmers at Woodside’s SMIP Ranch, a private farm that grows produce exclusively for Spruce’s needs and specifications. Madriaga highlights their ingredients into a number of his dishes, including Wild King Salmon with Summer Squash, Red Frill Mustard, and Courgette Veloute; Local Black Cod with Sunchokes, Charred Squid, and Mushroom Consomm√©; and Suckling Pig with Savoy Cabbage, Padron Pepper, and Anson Mills Grits. When describing what guides his cooking, Madriaga states, “My goal is simply to take what the land gives us and present it in its most natural form.” Drawing from his global experiences, Madriaga provides his guests at Spruce with a fresh, inspired menu that remains true to the integrity of his ingredients.