Named 1996 Chef of The Year by San Francisco Focus Magazine's panel of food writers, editors and restaurant reviewers, and recipient of The James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in the country for Rose Pistola, Reed Hearon is a passionate, scholarly, and undisputedly talented cook. He likes nothing better than sharing his knowledge and enjoyment of good food with as many people as possible. Knowing that this enjoyment is multi-dimensional, his restaurants aim to recreate the experience of eating in a cuisine's country or region of origin and his menus encourage a variety of tastes and shared pleasures by lending themselves to family-style dining. An honors graduate of The University of Chicago and The University of Texas in Philosophy and Mathematics, Reed Hearon is a chef by training.
After honing his skills at The Avenue in Austin, one of the first Southwestern restaurants, he joined Michael McCarty and Jimmy Schmidt in opening Rattlesnake Club in Denver. He then joined Mark Miller for the succeeding two years as Chef at The Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe. In 1987 he was selected as one of the thirty most promising young chefs in the country by Gael Greene, Larry Forgione and Julia Child. In 1988 Hearon moved to San Francisco to take over Corona Bar & Grill where he earned numerous critical acclaims.
After a year spent traveling and researching in Mexico and Europe, Hearon opened the hugely successful Restaurant Lulu in San Francisco in January, 1993. With its excellent Cuisine of the Riviera, and warmly sophisticated design, by Cass Calder Smith, Lulu was an overnight hit. Hearon is no longer associated with Lulu but plans another South-of-France inspired restaurant in the future.
In the summer of 1993, Hearon's first book, Salsa: Musica For Your Mouth was published by Chronicle Books and in September of that year he opened Café Marimba in San Francisco, returning to his first culinary love - authentic Mexican cuisine. Marimba's food was inspired by Oaxaca, the Yucatan and Veracruz, regions where Hearon thinks the food is most delicious, healthful and exciting. He still has equity in Marimba but is no longer associated in any other way.
Rose Pistola, Hearon's third San Francisco restaurant opened in North Beach, the city's old Italian quarter in March of 1996. Also designed by Cass Calder Smith, it is named after one of the neighborhood's most beloved figures, eighty-nine year old Rose Pistola, and serves Ligurian-San Franciscan food. It was cited as one of the year's best new restaurants by Bon Appetit magazine as well as winning The James Beard Award for best new restaurant in the country.
Hearon's second book, La Parilla: The Mexican Grill, was published in July, 1996 and his third book, Bocaditos: The Little Bites of Mexico was published in March 1997.
On April 22,1997 he opened Rose's Cafe, a bakery, cafe and wine bar featuring a variety of sweet and savory focaccia; ciabatta; pizzas; panini; roasted chickens and antipasti. It is located at 2298 Union Street, San Francisco. On June 20, 1998 he opened Black Cat, a late night restaurant and bar on Broadway and Kearny Sts.