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Sara Deseran

Q&A with Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group

As luck would have it, Danny Meyer’s plane sailed into SF yesterday morning right like clockwork, giving him just enough time to grab an early lunch with me at Piccino before he was off to give a talk at the California Culinary Academy’s swanky new pad in Potrero Hill. (The lecture, Obama-esque in Meyer’s very earnest yes-we-can attitude, was all about giving the love back to your diners by way of excellent hospitality—not just sending them off with tomorrow-morning’s coffee cake.)

Chocolate for Haters


Be mine: Charles Chocolates Triple
Chocolate Almonds.


I’m not a romantic, at least in the conventional sense. Valentine’s Day? Whatever.

My apathy is a good thing, though. It serves me well when the romantic forecast is cloudy and gray.

I'm similarly indifferent about the two things that come with February 14: red roses and chocolate. Give me dahlias, tulips or ranunculus; coconut, lemon or caramel. I've learned to steer clear of this conversation in the company of other women, though. Just saying no to chocolate is like an affront to the sisterhood.

Sean O'Brien: Coming To You Soon


Sean O'Brien joins the boys club.

I don’t want to say when Food & Wine magazine puts you on the cover for its "Best New Chefs" issue, you’re golden—but it sure seems like it. Past SF-based BNCs include Delfina’s Craig Stoll, Cyrus’s Douglas Keane, the Ritz-Carlton’s Ron Siegel, Jardinière’s Traci Des Jardins and Spruce’s Mark Sullivan (for his food at the Village Pub). Hardly a motley crew.

The Readymade Cookbook



A really bad photo of a pretty cool custom cookbook.

When I was growing up, dinnertime in my family usually began with my mother sitting on the floor, sifting through piles of recipes, all clipped from magazines or handwritten, and tossed into the recipe drawer. Today, the drawer is no longer and mom is more often on Epicurious, looking up four-fork recipes. Ask her to give you the recipe for something delicious that she made once and it will inevitably entail a frantic internet search.

Campton Spices It Up



I want to make this clear: Srijith, the executive sous chef of Campton Place Hotel restaurant, is not the kind of guy who's made his career cooking up a curry of the day. Before he arrived in SF, he was a chef at Deep End—an award-winning Conde Nast restaurant in the Maldives where the menu is Mediterranean.

Top Chef Hearts SF

A while ago, a producer from Bravo called me to ask if 7x7 wanted to cover this new reality show on chefs because they were shooting the first season in SF. I asked for details, but they wouldn't reveal more—so I passed. My mistake.

The Fifth Floor Goes to Gascony


Chef Laurent Manrique is getting back to his roots.

Chefs get excited about things: “The Bay Area is almost the same latitude and longitude!” Laurent Manrique, the chef of Aqua and now consultant to the Fifth Floor, was telling me the other day, referring to the likeness of our geography to his native homeland, the Gascony region of France. They have a wine country (OK, so theirs is Bordeaux, one of the most famous wine regions in the world), forest, mountains (OK, theirs is the Pyrenees), and an ocean in close proximity—and so do we!

Here's to Our Health

San Franciscans have a village mentality. Leave the big-box stuff to the Los Angeles and Miami; let New York have its sweeping fine-dining restaurants. We’re proud of our casual, but conscientious, neighborhood joints that don’t cost an arm and a leg—the little guys, owned and run by a chef who knows your name: the Delfinas, Terzos and Blue Plates; the SPQRs, Mavericks and Frescatis.

Tea for Two

For those who love eating and drinking as much as they love the one they’re with, try this date on for size. It’s not exactly the always popular white-tablecloth-candlelight-champagne triumvirate, but sometimes the most impressive dates are a little grittier, a little less suavé, but equally compelling. For this, I’d recommend a three-part date, all within one block of the Mission. First, of course, you must start with a drink at Dalva, particularly if you can get into the very dark and very private little room up the creaky stairs. (It’s not always open early on, so maybe this is a drink that should be more of a nightcap than an amuse.)

Like Mother, Like Son



I promise I won't grow up to be a chef.

There are certain things that can make a mother’s heart melt—especially when you think you have something to do with it. Like the fact that my 2 ½ year old son, Moss, loves to “cook.” It must be genetic, right? He spends a lot of time in front of his little wooden “stovetop” and “oven,” from which the other day he proudly pulled out his stuffed piggy which he'd been cooking—the same one that he also sleeps with (in my head I was making whole hog jokes, but I didn’t think he’d get it).
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