Fresh, Local, and Seasonal in the City by the Bay
April 23, 2010
There are arguably few places in the country that can compete with San Francisco’s commitment to local, organic, and sustainable everything. These values are engrained in every step of the way the city’s chefs cook, from getting the ingredients to putting them on the plate.
In this vein, chefs in the greater Bay Area are getting closer and closer to the source of their produce. Chefs like David Kinch and Alice Waters have had their own farms for decades. Now, chefs are stepping it up and going into the wild to pick their own vegetables and edible flowers. But getting in touch with nature isn’t for the uninitiated—there are risks for those who don’t know their poisonous plants from the safe ones, plus issues around inventory and menu design. Read Chefs Gone Wild: Foraging in the San Francisco Bay Area to get tips from foraging chefs like Daniel Patterson of Coi and Louis Maldonado of Aziza.
Chefs wanting to get even closer to nature and away from higher rents are setting up shop in casual, neighborhoody Oakland. No longer limited by the seven square miles of San Francisco proper, there’s now plenty of talent across the Bay.
Chef Russell Moore worked at Chez Panisse for 20 years before finally opening his own restaurant, Camino with partner Allison Hopelain, where he cooks everything over a custom-made oven crafted by French stone masons, and buys only whole animals, which he uses head to tail. And at cozy A Cote, Chef Matthew Colgan cooks super rustic, satisfying Italian food, like Chicken Tortelloni with Chanterelles and Swiss Chard. At the nearby Wood Tavern, Chef Maximilian DiMare packs people in day and night with his straightforward, comforting bistro food. And over in Berkeley, Chef Josh Thomsen brings the San Francisco focus on sustainable ingredients and local wines to the Claremont Hotel—and its priceless view across the Bay—at the Meritage.
There’s still no shortage of notable restaurants without having to cross the bridge. We finally had a chance to visit downtown classic Masa’s, which continues to be a bastion of Bay Area fine dining. Chef Gregory Short, Pastry Chef John McKee, and Master Sommelier Alan Murray make up an impressive trio that works to deliver elegant dishes and wine pairings that flow from start to finish.
San Francisco is also one of the cities that is leading the way in the explosion of the country’s cocktail culture with the help of a group of gifted and tight-knit mixologists. And unlike the food culture in San Francisco, it’s not all about farm-fresh cocktails. Mixologists are deeply rooted in the classics (many of them are committed to finding the most obscure, pre-pre-Prohibition cocktails for their menus), but they’re also not taking themselves too seriously. Some of the best mixologists in the city are putting dessert cocktails on their menus. From Daniel Hyatt’s coffee-flavored Vice Grip to Edgar Solis’ Dirty Sanchez, read about how these mixologists are blurring the line between cocktails and dessert in Dessert Cocktails.
For those who prefer their dessert on a plate, we’ve selected a group of young pastry chefs who make their confections even more appetizing with exceptional, creative presentations. See how they make their dishes stand out in the latest edition of On the Plate.
Last but not least, we’ve announced our San Francisco Bay Area Rising Stars. Read about who they are and what made them stand apart in Why They Shine. The newest class of Rising Stars will strut their stuff at the 28th StarChefs.com Rising Stars Revue gala, which will be held on June 16th at Ghirardelli Square. Be sure to get your tickets before they sell out!
We’ll be heading to Washington, DC in May, so get in your nominations for chefs, pastry chefs, sommeliers, and mixologists by using our nomination form.
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