Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

From Toast to Cate Blanchett, San Francisco's Best Moments of 2014

To say that the national media has become a bit obsessed with San Francisco could be the understatement of the year. The Bay Area has found itself at the core of the modern zeitgeist. From the size of one’s hedge (hello, Danielle Steel!) to the magnitude of an incubated idea (we’re looking at you, Glass), these are just some of the most captivating and compelling stories that swelled to national proportions—and became the stuff of cocktail banter and serious conversation. 

The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 to strike down the Defense of Marriage 
Act as unconstitutional in a major victory for advocates of gay marriage and a blow to House Republican leaders. California’s Proposition 8 banning gay marriage also fell, with the court ruling that the appellants did not have standing to appeal a lower court decision overturning the law. From Rollcall.com | June 26, 2013 | Defense of Marriage Act Overturned; Prop 8 Falls, by Steven T. Dennis


A woman as beloved for her outspoken opinions and strict code of manners as for her gilded lifestyle, [Denise] Hale is out on the town here almost every night. “I find my city life is a must. If you are curious, you are alive,” she explains. “I travel, and then I love to return home to the privacy of my apartment. Few people are invited here.” From Harper’s Bazaar | July 2013 | The Grandest Dame, by Diane Dorrans Saeks


The complete recipe for Basic Country Bread, the edible hero of Chad Robertson’s 2010 cookbook, runs 38 pages, including photographs. It’s a masterpiece along the lines of a Martin Scorsese tracking shot or a Marcel Proust sentence: It goes on forever, and when you get to the end you realize it shouldn’t be any shorter. The prose is lean and direct; the instructions don’t just tell you what to do but explain why, what to look for, and how to make corrections. With this recipe, some matches, and a knife, you could start a civilization. From Vogue | July 2013 | Rising Star: Chad Robertson of San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery & Cafe, by Oliver Strand

Blue Jasmine, the 77-year-old auteur’s first film shot in the U.S. in four years...San Francisco has been his favorite city outside of New York ever since he did stand-up comedy at the Hungry I during the 1960s. “It was strictly an indulgence because I could walk the streets, eat at the restaurants, and wake up every morning looking at the bay,” Allen said in a message delivered at the film’s San Francisco premiere. From Hollywood Reporter | November 18, 2013 | Woody Allen in San Francisco: The Making of ‘Blue Jasmine’, by Alex Ben Block

Actress Amy Adams will appear in Tim Burton’s Big Eyes, a biopic based on SF-based artist, Margaret Keane, and her then husband, Walter Keane (as portrayed by Christoph Waltz). The film, titled as a reference to Keane’s paintings of kitschy wide-eyed naïfs, is slated to release on Christmas Day, 2014.

Cate Blanchett won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as Jasmine in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. The film was shot throughout town, including this pivotal scene in South Park. You‘ve probably eaten lunch on this bench.

“San Francisco does seem to be the center of the universe at the moment. It’s very palpable that we are living in a modern day Golden Age—surrounded by the Thomas Edisons and Alexander Graham Bells of our time. We have long been the creator of experiences for folks—whether it be for a night or an environment to last for years. It’s been said that time is the greatest luxury, but now for our clients we take that one step further, and help define how that time is spent. It’s no longer “let’s escape to the country or the beach for the weekend”—it’s what’s going to occur while we’re there. How do we ensure that all of those things we might dream could happen actually do? We have really become programmers of these experiences.” – Ken Fulk, Owner Ken Fulk Inc. 

“The Battery was founded to create an escape from the tech world that in many ways has started to define San Francisco. We, like many in the city, created wealth from tech and then started wondering ‘What’s next?’ We wanted to explore a world outside of tech and create an environment that somehow adjusts for the imbalance of the city. San Francisco is very much at the heart of the Bay Area, both physically and culturally.” — Michael Birch, Co-founder, The Battery

Drawing on more than the freshest langoustine or perfect aubergine, the new California Cuisine shares its spirit of innovation with adventurous, boundary-pushing Silicon Valley and is supported by the curiosity—and pocketbooks—of that clientele. From The Wall Street Journal | December 5, 2013 | San Francisco: Culinary Capital, by Charlotte Druckman

“San Francisco is kind to the innovator and has always provided us with the opportunity to take risks,” said Atelier Crenn owner Dominique Crenn in Druckman’s WSJ piece.

Leading fashion house Burberry saw their CEO, Angela Ahrendts, depart for Apple to helm its retail division, notching up the headcount for female executives in Silicon Valley by one.

I also liked that Ms. Bloomfield and Mr. Even’s menu doesn’t reach for a 1919 Italian-American version of retro-authenticity. Their food is what you want to eat today, which means Tosca Cafe might be around tomorrow. From The New York Times | January 7, 2014 | This Place Looks Familiar, by Pete Wells

“Everybody has been incredibly welcoming and excited and the Film Commission has made it as easy as possible. It’s very clear that is not necessarily what I get into day to day. I will tell you from my point of view; it’s been very clear that San Francisco, as a city, has wanted the show [Looking] there. They’ve made it very easy, very welcoming—residents, city officials—everyone. It’s nice. You’re not one of a hundred productions. It feels special to be there.” —Casey Bloys, Executive Vice President, HBO Original Programming

“It was all about trying to figure out the American equivalent to London. I felt instinctively, that San Francisco was the perfect city to set an American version of the show. It felt like the right scale—big enough to contain a diverse group of people, but small enough to not feel too big. Most of all, San Francisco has such charm and is such a unique city in so many ways. It made sense that both Will and Fiona would live there.” —Jason Katims, Writer & Creator, NBC’s About a Boy

Concerning the culture of office romances at Google, one Atherton socialite with close connections to the company says, “When you have executives dating employees, it’s like a doctor-nurse relationship—it’s not illegal, but it seems like it shouldn’t be happening. Tech is a man’s world. Most of these guys are married, and then there are these young fresh [female] sharks, and they’re smart too.” But the men have hundreds of millions of dollars. The socialite trots out an old saw: “It’s almost like you get a Stanford degree so you can work at Google, so you can find a husband.” From Vanity Fair | April 2014 | O.K., Glass: Make Google Eyes, by Vanessa Grigoriadis

For ten years we have cast our nets far and wide in our quest to uncover 
all that is excellent for our annual Design Awards. To wrap up the first decade in suitable style last month, we jetted over to San Francisco—the worthy joint winner of this year’s Best City award—to throw a party inside Design Awards partner Airbnb’s brand new headquarters. From Wallpaper | February 6, 2014 | The 2014 Design Awards party in San Francisco, by Jessica Klingelfuss

Although Yves Béhar is a creator of meticulously crafted objects, his hair is pure chaos. In a way, this tonsorial disaster is an apt metaphor for the tangled web of ideas that have exploded from the head of the lanky Swiss-born designer—resulting in some of technology’s most striking and memorable designs over the last two decades, including the One Laptop per Child computer, the Jawbone wireless headset, the Up fitness band, and the Ouya game player. It’s all the more impressive when one considers that, until very recently, design has taken a backseat in Silicon Valley, where the result has been either not much to speak of or products that mimic (usually badly) Apple’s signature absolutist ethos of stark simplicity. Béhar has gone in a decidedly different direction from that, making sexier, curvier, more luscious and tactile objects. In doing so, he has defined a design style that subliminally suggests the natural landscape of his adoptive California—both its gently rolling hills and its dangerously sharp coastlines. From Vanity Fair | February 2014 | Surfing the Next Wave by Kara Swisher

“The city is basking in a continued wave of Hollywood attention with the start of yet another on-location film, this time with the promise of Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgård sightings around town,” wrote SFist in January, when Skarsgård was spotted in ’70s-era short shorts on the Ocean Beach film set of The Diary of a Teenage Girl." 

The residential tower for the new Transbay Terminal was designed by The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), the firm co-founded by Koolhaas.

The Koolhaas-designed tower will be a mix of condominiums and rental apartments. While it will undoubtedly generate astronomical rents, at least 27 percent of the units must be affordable to residents making 60 percent of area median income—$58,250 for a family of four. The property is one of 11 properties the city is selling off to raise money for the Transbay Transit Center, the $4.2 billion project under construction at First and Mission streets. Once built out,the new Transbay District will have 4,400 housing units, 1,320 of which will be affordable. From San Francisco Chronicle | March 18, 2014 | Rem Koolhaas picked to Design S.F. Residential Tower, by  J.K. Dineen

The theory that San Francisco is becoming the Big Apple goes as follows: bankers, Harvard graduates and affluent party-goers (you know, the important people) are heading west in search of new digital gold...As I wrote last year, people seem to build products here that would make the rest of the country scratch their heads... [citing The Annals of San Francisco, about the 1840s Gold Rush] “Everything was conceived on a vast scale, and there was always plenty of cash available for any scheme that might be proposed, no matter how impossible or bizarre it seemed.” Well would you look at that. It seems that San Francisco is the new San Francisco. From The New York Times | March 20, 2014 | Why San Francisco is Not New York, by Nick Bilton

Cutting-edge architecture helps set Silicon Valley apart from other business centers and allows companies to trumpet their ethoes: On the left, Norman Foster’s design for Apple’s HQ in Cupertino; on the right, Facebook’s proposed tree-topped campus is by Frank Gehry.

And yet, despite numerous examples of how language is used to patronize women, I am a fan of “bossy.” In two perfect syllables, it conveys the seizing of authority in low-stakes situations. (Lucy in “Peanuts” is bossy; German Chancellor Angela Merkel is not). Its connotation is negative, but not too negative, yet it’s also amusing. That, I assume, is why Tina Fey’s christened her bestselling memoir “Bossypants.” From LA Times | April 17, 2014 | Sheryl Sandberg’s Wrongheaded Campaign to Ban the Word ‘Bossy’, by Robin Abcarian

The Pax Vaporizer, manufactured by Dogpatch-based Ploom, is featured in Wired magazine’s story on the confluence of the Silicon Valley tech and California’s medical marijuana industries. “The Tesla of toking up.” From Wired | April 1, 2014 | High Tech, by Mat Honan

But Baker assured me that he was not the Chuck Berry of fancy toast. He was its Elvis: he had merely caught the trend on its upswing. The place I was looking for, he and others told me, was a coffee shop in the city’s Outer Sunset neighborhood—a little spot called Trouble. From Pacific Standard | January 13, 2014 | A Toast Story, by John Gravois

“I feel kind of pissed off because I’m more than toast. I’m a little bit more of a community builder, and I’m doing it with toast. However, San Francisco likes to be very foodie-like so they focus just on the food. In 2007, when I opened, it was all about third-wave coffee. It was all about Blue Bottle, me, and Ritual. So, I’m used to it now. Now I’m going through the toast phase. I hope it passes, but I started it seven years ago and think it took San Francisco a long time to copy me. If I was in Athens, Georgia, they would have picked up what I was doing earlier than seven years. That’s kind of funny to me. I guess coconuts will be next.” —Giulietta Carrelli, Owner, Trouble Coffee and Coconut Club

[Joe] Zee’s new job is a fairly expansive role that will give him the freedom to develop the content not only for the Internet giant’s digital fashion magazine, but also the power to execute events for the site and create unscripted programming, he told WWD. “It probably is a little bit of a head scratcher coming out of the world of fashion,” Zee said of the job move. “But I’m sitting with Marissa Mayer and she said, ‘Consider this your playground.’” From WWD.com | April 14, 2014 | Joe Zee Exiting Hearst to Join Yahoo!, by Alexandra Steigrad

When it comes to imagining life as a billionaire, most people think of the things that such money would let them buy — yachts, mansions, and cool cars. Elon Musk isn’t like most people. Only 14 years after making his first millions, Elon Musk is one of the most influential businessmen alive today. He’s involved with more industries than your average person has hobbies. Rather than use the wealth he’s attained for leisure, Musk has repeatedly shown that he would prefer to spend his money on turning his passion projects into companies that change the world. From Business Insider | October 24, 2013 | The Fabulous Life of Elon Musk, by Kyle Russell

In the reboot of Godzilla, the iconic radioactive monster wreaks havoc on the planet, culminating in a classic sci-fi showdown in San Francisco. Goodbye, 
Golden Gate Bridge!