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.
But things took a little turn for Gary Danko-trained chef Sean O’Brien, one of 2007's BNCs. He’d barely had time to bask in the glow before it was announced that Myth, which has become one of the most coveted reservations in town much in part to O’Brien’s talent, had been sold by Tom Duffy and O'Brien was out. The restaurant now appears to be in the hands of Carl Pascarella, the former CEO of Visa USA and well-founded rumor has it that Ron Siegel will soon be the chef (a BNC for a BNC).
O’Brien’s last day at Myth was last week and Joe Hargrave and Andrew McCormack, the owners of Frisson and Laïola (the two were part of 7x7’s Hot 20 last year—do we have foresight or what?), wasted not a moment. O’Brien is going to partner with their restaurant group Sprezzatura for a yet-to-be-made-public project. “In terms of Myth’s success, it was too soon to end,” says O’Brien. “I think it was a wise move on Joe and Andrew’s part to realize that and keep the momentum going.”
O’Brien, who’s up there with Charles Phan in the “ridiculously nice” chef category (click here to get what I’m talking about), has a couple months off before he’ll be back at the stoves again. Not that he’s planning a trip to Barcelona or something. The hard-worker hasn’t taken more than a week for two years, “other than when I got married—which was for five days,” he says. Vacation will come in the form of a few days eating his way through Vegas. Other than that, he says you’ll find him at places like Santa (also my favorite ramen joint) in San Mateo, near his home. I’d like to tell O'Brien to relax, but I’m not sure it's in the cards. Expect to see seared mascarpone gnocchi coming (back) to you soon.