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Flavor Profile: Merigan's Liza Shaw

liza shaw

News flash: The former A16 chef draws on her East Coast roots for the opening of her South Beach sub shop, Merigan, this month.

When did you first know you wanted to be a chef?

When I realized I was still young enough to try and that there was little else that gave such pleasure to me and those around me.

Favorite ingredient?

Other than salt? Lemon. All of it—zest, oils, juices, pulp, even the leaves. There are few things that are not improved by the brightness that a touch of lemon adds. A good friend recently joked that I should keep one in my bag because I am constantly wishing for a wedge when I go out to eat.

Best thing you’ve eaten in SF?

The answer to this question changes constantly. I continue to be impressed with the level of cooking that is happening all around us every day. My most frequent most fantastic meals lately have been at the usual suspects: Bar Tartine, SBP, Frances, and Namu Gaji.

Dream playlist while cooking?

Beck, Midnite Vultures; Rolling Stones, Exile on Main St.; Warren G. and Nate Dogg, Regulate; Peter Tosh, The Toughest; Talking Heads, Little Creatures.

What do you make for yourself to eat at home?

Lately, anything with kimchi.  Lots of hearty salads with poached albacore, egg, beans, greens, crunchy veggies, and mustard.

Greatest indulgence?

Travel.

What motivates you?

My peers.

What would you request for your last meal?

Oysters, cheese, Champagne.  It would be a picnic.

Who are your heroes?

This question stresses me out.

What’s in your refrigerator?

Lots of projects. Kimchi, 12 quarts of preserved Meyer lemons, 4 quarts of Nocellara olives, corned beef tongue, poached albacore, milk, yogurt, eggs, Champagne.

Where do you go for a good drink and what do you order?

Anywhere where there’s good company, really. Depends on the time of day, but a glass of sparkling wine or a Hendrick’s Negroni are strong contenders.

Go-to takeout/delivery?

Spices! The one on 8th, not 6th.

Bay Area restaurants on your list to try?

AQ- it’s silly that I have not been yet. Wakuriya on the Peninsula. Stag’s Lunchette.

Favorite pairing?

Champagne and oysters (are you sensing a theme here?).

Favorite don't-tell-anyone junk food?

Nothing really. Junk has never really been my bag.

Weirdest thing you've ever eaten?

A meal in Vietnam based on cobra, complete with the still-beating heart and blood.

If you weren't a chef, you'd be….?

Traveling and writing.

Any dietary restrictions?

None.

Restaurant customer pet peeves?

People who forget that they’ve come out to have a good time.

Describe your kitchen persona in one word.

Leader.

Favorite SF neighborhood?

I like to get around as much as possible, but obviously everyone is partial to their own turf. I live in NoPa (the part that is actually north of the Panhandle). My favorite spots in the ’hood are Dahlia Garden in Golden Gate Park, The Page, Nopalito, and, of course, Nopa.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Satisfied.

How far would you travel for a killer meal? Where to?

I once made a detour to Montreal for a few meaningful meals en route to a college reunion (that was actually a pong tournament) in Boston.

Strangest customer request?

We got a letter at A16 requesting that we stop serving rabbit because the letter writer had the cutest little bunnies hop-hoppity-hopping around her apartment, and the thought of someone eating their kin was too awful to bear.

Proudest professional moment?

Witnessing the success of former colleagues and employees. The A16 cookbook.

This article was published in 7x7's October issue. Click here to subscribe.