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SF Chefs Fall Dinner Party Project #2: Soulful Supper Club

7x7 is proud to sponsor SF Chefs, the annual, hotly-anticipated food/wine/spirits bonanza that is the quintessential San Francisco culinary experience. The event occurs each August, and offers guests exclusive access to the city's most innovative and lauded industry professionals and personalities.

Originally staged as a build-up to the main SF Chefs event, the Dinner Party Project was revived this fall for a trio of holiday dinners. This unique series of dining events is inspired and curated by local chefs who have developed deep friendships and connections in an intense industry. "Whether they meet at the market each week, work in the kitchen side-by-side or just love getting together for late-night adventures, San Francisco chefs share a special bond. These friends collaborate for one night only, sharing with diners a glimpse into their friendships, cooking styles and culinary dreams."

Each dinner featured elements from the three presenting sponsors: Campari, theNational Pork Board, and Guittard Chocolate Company. A portion of the proceeds from each of the fall dinners benefited the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund for victims of Hurricane Sandy

Want secret recipes and entertaining tips from these fabulous chefs? Get them here.

1300 on Fillmore's David Lawrence and Zaré at Fly Trap's Hoss Zaré are known for being convivial hosts at their respective restaurants, but when they announced they were teaming up for a Dinner Party Project event, even the busy Emily Luchetti (who handles the pastry programs at both Waterbar and Farallon) was eager to come on board. "As soon as they announced they were doing it, I called and asked, 'Can I do dessert?'" she told the crowd at the Soulful Supper Club dinner on November 29th. "These guys are just too fun!"

Indeed, "fun" was the tone of the trio's collaboration, which embraced Lawrence's Southern-influenced fare and Zaré's Persian-inspired creations in equal turn. The meal kicked off with amuse-bouches from each chef: Lawrence presented spoonfuls of his famed shrimp and grits, while Zaré offered addictive crunchy lavash triangles with delicata squash hummus and goat cheese. A piquant tequila-and-Campari cocktail emphasized Zaré's use of spice, while a Pimm's concoction with minted syrup and cucumber evoked down-home porch sipping. 

The meal itself kicked off with pistachio meatballs, a mainstay of Zaré at Fly Trap's menu. For this meal, Zaré switched out his usual beef meatballs for pork, and accented the pistachio with spicy harissa, tangy pomegranate sauce, and pomegranate seeds. Lawrence's buttermilk-fried quail salad was also a riff on one of his restaurant's most beloved dishes, fried chicken; served on a bed of frisee and bacon and topped with a poached quail egg, it was beyond decadent. 

For his entree, Zaré offered a take on ghalieh mahi, a Southern Persian seafood stew seasoned with fresh cilantro and fenugreek. It's traditionally made with fish, but Zaré took the shellfish route, topping each plate with scallops, clams, mussels, and a tiny crawfish. The stew was accompanied by a crisp, arancini-like saffron rice cake. 

Lawrence's entree was equally rib-sticking, with pan-roasted Muscovy duck, sweet caramelized onion, tart huckleberry and creamy sweet potato all evoking Thanksgiving. Paired with a tempranillo created especially for 1300 at Tejada Vineyard in Lake County, it provided a hearty finish to the savory portion of the meal. 

Luchetti worked the room as her dessert was presented, chatting with diners and soliciting feedback. Her chocolate Napoleon, with layers of milk-chocolate pudding wedged between crisp cocoa-nib tuiles and topped with salty peanuts, was outstanding, a haute-cuisine take on a Tagalong Girl Scout cookie. One diner who normally eschewed dessert cleared his plate, praising Luchetti for her dish's balance. "That's the problem with most desserts," she noted. "They're actually often too sweet!"

Throughout the meal, Zare, Lawrence, and Luchetti were convivial, and laughter could be heard from the kitchen as they helped each other cook. The trio are also active in life outside their restaurants, representing their fellow chefs on the board of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and promoting various charitable causes (Zare works with Operation Smile, Luchetti spearheads the San Francisco Pastry Chefs' One Warm Coat drive, and Lawrence is involved with youth sports charities). Dining with them proved that good company in the kitchen is just as important as good company at the table.