Letter from the Editor: The Successes, Struggles, and Scents of San Francisco Vol: 124

June 2016
Antoinette and Will
Antoinette Bruno, CEO and Editor-in-Chief
Will Blunt, Managing Editor


San Francisco can leave you breathless—from bay vistas on a rare clear day to trekking up nearly perpendicular hills that mimic the boom and bust cycles of recent history. Oh, and the smells! From salt air and lush, head-clearing scents of the Presidio to clouds of reefer and the ripe, fetid aroma of the Tenderloin, the city is an in-your-face sensory experience. And so is dining in San Francisco in 2016.

Forerunners like Staurt Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, Evan and Sarah Rich, William Werner, Thomas McNaughton, Mourad Lahlou, as well as Dominique Crenn, have pushed the city past ingredient preciousness. They doubled down on technique and technology, while at the same time harnessing the influx of new capital to create some of the country’s most exciting concepts. Their modern approaches to human resources, format, and design, have paved the way for innovative newcomers like Lazy Bear, Californios, and Trestle. The innovation is visually represented in menus, thanks to “The Trick Dog Effect”, and these inventive menus often indicate new formats as with the shared experience at Petit Crenn.

Concept winner Souvla best represents the industry’s embrace of tech in the city. Owner Charles Bililies practically runs the business from his iPhone (p. 86). One trend hit us over the head like a 50-pound torchon. More than a year after the foie ban was lifted, chefs are still rejoicing. The technique behind foie dishes is also helping chefs remedy an odd role reversal. Instead of kitchen applicants pitching themselves to chefs, chefs are selling themselves to attract staff. Technique is a selling point, and it’s also how the turbot at COI got its scales.

Some things don’t change. San Francisco is a melting pot, and we explore the continued proliferation of its multicultural influences in Kitchen Notebook. It has also always been a little weird, and that extends to ingredients. At Cadence, Chef Joey Elenterio is using sturgeon spinal fluid—slurp! In a city known for cocktails, Bartender Jacques Benzuidenout is one step ahead of the low ABV and vermouth-in-cocktails trends, with 17 vermouths by the glass at Wildhawk.

Lately, San Francisco is a city of successes and struggles. It can be hard to put into words. So we asked Outerlands Pastry Chef Brooke Mosley to put it into a poem, and for native son Richie Nakano’s  thoughts, which include overlords and looking forward. San Francisco, especially its food professionals, has always been able to glimpse the future through the fog. 

Antoinette Bruno
Will Blunt
Managing Editor