Your City, Your Chef 2011: Arthur Wall of Garcon
7x7's gastronistas aimed straight at the heart of San Francisco's food scene to anoint chef Arthur Wall—of the Mission's pioneering neighborhood bistro Garcon—as the winner of our 2011 "Your City, Your Chef" contest!
As San Francisco's status as one of the world's most vibrant culinary centers continues to thrill—with its head-to-tail feasts, two- and four-wheeled entrepreneurs, and molecularly gastronomic foams—it seems fitting that 7x7's readers and web users determined that the City's next bright talent would be found situated in the center of its most vibrant, diverse and celebrated dining destination.
When Garcon first opened, its stretch of Valencia saw little traffic that bore even less foodie buzz. But with its menu of reliable bistro classics, Garcon developed a quiet yet loyal neighborhood following. With the arrival of Chef Arthur Wall—who graduated with honors from the California Culinary Academy, and developed his skills with stints at the Windsor Court Hotel and Herbsaint Restaurant in New Orleans; the Bay Area's Restaurant at Wente Vineyards; and San Francisco's Farallon—the menu underwent a progressive transformation into a more seasonally-inspired and organic lineup. His influence and skill culminated in his appointment to Executive Chef in February 2010.
By voting for the winning chef, stalwart Garcon supporter Kenneth Ford won himself and his friends a special prize: a six-course extravaganza customized by Chef Wall which included courses that paired well with the contest's sponsor, Trumer Pils. Kenneth's guests included girlfriend Jude Hellewell; and pals Minoo Ayat, Eric Klein, Jen Lee-Otero, Melanie Lessen, Dave Otero, and Liz Smith.
The restaurant's award-winning bar manager/mixologist Brian Felley noted that Trumer Pils had "more character due to its floral notes, and just the right amount of hoppiness." He and Chef Wall found it began the evening nicely, paired with the richness of foie gras and nectarine. Feeley was also inspired to create a special cocktail incorporating the Berkeley-based brew to pair with the evening's intermezzo.
Chef Wall took the occasion to indulge his most creative and experimental inclinations, while maintaining his philosophy of "cooking with heart—succeeding with creations that involve maybe seven steps, instead of seventeen." That simplicity and purity was all the more stunning when applied to showstopping courses like sea urchin chowder served in its own spiky shell, and the architectural wonder of his dessert made with crispy wafers and soft nutty semifreddo.
Chef Arthur Wall's stunning vision is grounded in meat and produce from local sources, including Brentwood Farms, Terra Bella Farms, Superior Farms, and Frog Hollow Farms.
Garcon, 1101 Valencia Street at 22nd Street, San Francisco, garconsf.com
7x7 and Trumer Pils dinner party
August 8th, 2011
Full menu details with wine/beer pairings
Chef, Arthur Wall
Bar Manager/Mixologist, Brian Felley
Amuse bouche: foie gras mousse with Frog Hollow nectarines
Trumer Pilsner beer
Appetizer: Citrus cured salmon belly
Lemon cucumber, fennel jam, salmon roe, petite basil
Alsace Blend, Hugel et Fils, "Gentil," 2009
Pacific sea urchin chowder
Mussels and manila clams, summer truffle, Brentood corn emulsion
Pernand-Vergelesses, Domaine Doudet, Les Pins, 2008
Intermezzo: ruby grapefruit sorbet with salted Persian cucumber**
Cordial: grapefruit, lemongrass, St. Germain, and Trumer Pilsner
California squab breast with leg meat crepinette
Juniper choucroute, chanterelles, frisee salad with cherries & hearts
Zinfandel, Neal Family Vineyards, Napa Valley, 2008
Superior Farms lamb loin with grilled Monterey Bay calamari
Terra Bella Farms summer pepper confit, sweet & sour eggplant, baby artichoke, olive breadcrumbs, lamb jus
Costieres De Nimes, Chateau D'Or Et De Gueules, "Tressegum," 2007
Mille feuille of goat cheese and hazelnut
Hazelnut semifreddo, goat cheese mousse with honey, local figs, chocolate sauce
Frangelico & J Vineyards, Cuvee 20, Russion River Valley, Brut N.V.
**The bright and savory intermezzo was inspired by Chef Arthur's childhood memories of growing up with Southern coastal folks, and his boating father Stephen's penchant for the classic, simple refresher, The Salty Dog!