Chef Kim Alter of Nightbird - Biography

San Francisco, CA

May 2019

Originally from Laguna Beach, California, Kim Alter has known the hospitality industry virtually her whole life. Finding direction early on, she attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, and before receiving her diploma, landed a formative gig at Acquerello, under the talented wing of Chef Suzette Gresham. To this day, Alter credits Gretchen as her culinary hero.  

Alter continued to pay her dues at several Bay Area restaurants, most notably Gary Danko, Jeremy Fox’s Ubuntu, David Kinch’s Manresa, and Roland Passot’s La Folie, where she worked gratis as a butcher. Her culinary prowess was especially shaped by Kinch and Fox, whom Alter counts as influential mentors. In 2011, after helming Plate Shop in Sausalito, Alter was the opening chef at Haven in Oakland, and Plum after that. Haven received three stars from San Francisco Magazine and the title of “Best New Restaurant” from Oakland Magazine, plus a nomination for herself as “People’s Best New Chef” from Food & Wine. 

In 2016, Alter debuted a venture of her own with her partner Ron Boyd—two in fact. After a long-awaited, two-year opening process, San Francisco welcomed Nightbird and its adjoined sibling concept, Linden Room, with cocktail program by Boyd. At the former, Alter’s tour-de-force prix fixe menu is personal and poetic. In 2018, Alter was a semifinalist for James Beard’s “Best Chef: West.”