Posted By - Kate Spencer On July 18, 2015


KIM ALTER. Formerly of Haven in Oakland, Alter is opening a still unnamed restaurant in Hayes Valley in San Francisco (330 Gough Street). The restaurant is a partnership with Daniel Patterson Group and will have a casual tasting menu. Plans are for the restaurant to open by the end of the year. She’s inventive, creative and leaving us all in anticipation.

JEN BIESTY. Jen Biesty opened Shakewell in Oakland with fellow TOP CHEF Alum Tim Nugent. They are both former Scala's Bistro chefs. Biesty, who worked at Jardinière, Universal Café, and COCO500, trained in London with Jamie Oliver as well as Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray of The River Cafe. She is also an aspiring bee keeper. Super talent.

SARAH BONAR. Sarah spearheads the pastry program at both Frances, where she’s been the Pastry Chef for 3 years and the just-opened-in-April Octavia, both owned by Chef Melissa Perello. Her pastry production is now housed at Octavia and every review of Octavia insists that you leave room for dessert: toasted almond profiteroles with sweet basil ice cream or summer berry eton mess (COOKGIRL fav) with rose geranium, buttermilk and berries. She is definitely ready for the spotlight.

CORTNEY BURNS. Cortney Burns has run the stove with co-chef and partner in life Nick Balla at Bar Tartine since 2011. Originally an offshoot of Elisabeth Prueitt’s and Chad Robertson’s Tartine Bakery, Cortney and Nick recently bought Bar Tartine and have plans to rename the restaurant and evolve the menu. Bar Tartine is eclectic and focused on a kind of do-it-yourself craft that results in creating flavors from scratch. Described as a “geeked out gourmand”, Cortney is from Chicago and worked at Cafe Rouge, Quince and Boulette’s Larder.  Burns and Balla just published Bar Tartine: Techniques and Recipes, which won a James Beard Award 2015. They were nominated for a James Beard Award Best Chef: West in 2013.

SALLY CAMACHO. Sally was on Season 2 of TOP CHEF Desserts, when she was the Pastry Chef of WP24 at the Ritz Carlton, Los Angeles. From there she spent 2 1/2 years at the Jonathan Club in Los Angeles. Now she is leaning in to teach others her mad skills and is the Pastry Chef and Baker Instructor at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa. So now is the time to go to culinary school!

SUZETTE GRESHAM. In it’s 25th Anniversary year, Acquerello elevated from one Michelin star (earning one a year, every year, since 2007) to two Michelin stars in 2015, making Executive Chef/owner Suzette Gresham the second female chef in the Bay Area to reach two-star Michelin status, along with Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn. “I strive to be a teacher and pass everything I have learned on to my kitchen staff. If you love your craft, it is your duty to share your knowledge with the next generation. I relate to other chefs young and old because we all share a common thread - an honest love of cooking,” says Gresham. 

HANNAH HOFFMAN. In March 2012, Hannah Hoffman launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring her dream, Doughnut Dolly, to life in Oakland. Hannah grew up with flour and sugar - her late mom worked pastry at Chez Panisse. The doughnuts are dreamy and the filling can make you swoon: naughty cream, dark chocolate, berry jam, whipped peanut butter, coconut cream. Doughnut Dolly is now open in Berkeley in the Gilman District. Sidebar: Hannah has an undergraduate degree UC-Berkeley. Go Bears!

TANYA HOLLAND. Tanya Holland is the Executive Chef and Owner of Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland, in addition to being a cookbook author of Brown Sugar Kitchen: New-Style, Down-Home Recipes from Sweet West Oakland and New Soul Cooking. When she’s not in the kitchen, she’s on TV with her million watt smile and is known for her role as host of Food Network’s Melting Pot series. Her effervescence is infectious and with her talent and energy, she’s helped make a positive change to Oakland.

MELISSA KING. As Top Chef Finalist Season 12 Boston, Melissa King is an alum of Campton Place, Delfina, and the Ritz-Carlton; she also worked for Dominique Crenn at Luce. She believes in the intersection of food and tech and is the creator of the inventive Co+Lab SF, a collaborative pop-up dinner featuring local artists in every course. She hosted one of these amazing meals with fellow TOP CHEF Alum Mei Lin on March 9th, a hugely successful sell-out at $175 per person. She thrills at making people "Fat and Happy”.

NICOLE KRASINSKI. 2015 winner of the James Beard Award for State Provisions, Best Chef: West, with Stuart Brioza. State Bird Provisions also has a Michelin Star. Nicole spent time at Red Hen Bread in Chicago and Rubicon in San Francisco and she is most famous for her frozen sabayon sandwiched between two macarons. She balances her intense career as a chef and motherhood with a toddler with yoga. COOKGIRL favorite: Nicole and Stuart were chefs at Tapawingo in Ellsworth, MI for three summers. Oh and by the way, the official state bird of California is the valley qual, known for their hardiness and adaptability. “State Bird Provisions started as a recipe for serving quail, it has slowly evolved into a restaurant without any programmed elements.” Deliciously talented, super cool and deserving of all accolades.

JESSICA LARGEY. Jessica won the 2015 James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year for her work as chef de cuisine of Manresa in Los Gatos, CA and is widely considered one to watch. After 6 years at Manresa, Jessica announced that she was leaving in May, with the blessing of chef David Kinch, who told Eater “She is one of the most talented natural cooks I have ever encountered, smart, organized and hard working. It’s an unbeatable combination.” She off to travel. Cannot wait to see what she does next.

BELINDA LEONG. After starting her career as a pastry chef at Restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco in 1999, she staged in Europe, including interning with macaron master Pierre Hermé in Paris and working at Noma in Copenhagen. She was the Pastry Chef at Manresa before opening b. Patisserie in 2013 - a modern salon de thé. The menu includes delectable viennoiserie, pastries, tartines - including a Flammenkuche sandwich with caramelized onions, red onion, fromage blanc, gruyere cheese and lardons. In 2014, Belinda was a James Beard Award finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef and in 2015 a James Beard Finalist for Outstanding Baker. 

LISA LU. A Bay Area native, Lisa Lu let her chocolate-making hobby win out over a career in interior architecture. Lucky for all of us. From her time at Aqua, Quince, Michael Mina, Jardinière and Central Kitchen, she perfected her craft and is now the Pastry Chef at Boulevard Restaurant, with the rest of the power team: Nancy Oakes, Pam Mazzola and Kathy King. Lu was a James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2012.

CINDY PAWLCYN. For 30 years, Cindy Pawlcyn has been instrumental to the success of restaurants in the Bay Area, including Fog City Diner, Meadowoood, Tra Vigne, Brix. She currently owns and runs Mustard’s Grill and Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen in Napa and Cindy’s Waterfront at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. She has 5 cookbooks to her name: Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook for which she won a James Beard Award as well as Big Small Plates, Cindy Pawlcyn’s Appetizers, and Cindy’s Supper Club: Meals from Around the World to Share with Family and Friends - and Fog City Diner, iconic and sadly out of print. She was nominated for Best Chef: California twice by the James Beard Foundation. Cindy hails from the great state of Minnesota, where she ran her own catering business while in high school. 

ELISABETH PRUEITT. Elisabeth Prueitt is the co-owner and Executive Pastry Chef of San Francisco’s Tartine and co-author of Tartine, which includes all the basic recipes from the renowned Tartine Bakery she and Chad Robertson founded in 2002. They won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2008 after being nominated in both 2006 and 2007. Elisabeth and Chad sold Bar Tartine to Cortney Burns and Nick Balla in April 2015 after merging Tartine with Blue Bottle Coffee. Plans for Tartine locations in Los Angeles and New York are in the works, in addition to plans for Tartine Cookies and Cream, which will feature homemade ice cream. You scream, I scream, we ALL scream YEAH!

JENNIFER PUCCIO. As Executive Chef and partner, Jennifer Puccio is a key part of the “FEmpire” that exists at Big Night Restaurant Group (Marlowe, Park Tavern, The Cavalier and Marlowe Burger); one that includes owner/managing partner Anna Weinberg, chief pastry officer Emily Luchetti and chief beverage officer Nicole Blakely. Hailing from the east coast, she discovered while at business school in Maine that she much preferred the excitement and satisfying result that comes from working in a kitchen. She left business school for culinary school and the rest is history. Such a pro, with deserved acclaim for her unpretentious, extremely delicious farm-to-table-to-mouth cooking. #deviledeggs

MICHAELA RAHORST. Trained at the California Culinary Academy (now officially known as Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in San Francisco), Michaela describes her own favorite cuisine as “Mama’s huggin’ ya food.” At Melissa Perello’s Frances, Rahorst serves up exactly what she loves: exceptionally delicious comfort food. With the month-long wait for a table at Frances, it’s no surprise that Chef Perello was ready to give the reins to Michaela and open a new restaurant, Octavia, in April 2015. 

SARAH RICH. Rich Table is the vision of Pastry Chef Sarah Rich and Evan Rich, both of whom have deep roots in San Francisco and New York (Bouley, Mas, Michael Mina) and a list of the hyperlocal farms and purveyors to supply the best ingredients possible. With a relaxed, fun atmosphere, Rich Table is Sarah Rich’s opportunity to transform desserts we all think that we know into something spectacular - like the chocolate ganache and tarragon she uses to create s’mores. Rich Table started in 2012 with a kickstarter campaign and in 2014, Sarah was honored by Food & Wine as a Best New Pastry Chef.

AVERY RUZICKA. After working the scene at farmer’s market pop-ups, Manresa’s head baker/co-owner Avery Ruzicka was ready for a stand alone bakery. Voila ManresaBread. Located around the corner from two Michelin-star Manresa, ManresaBread has speeded up the production of what chef/owner David Kinch calls a “pretty ambitious” bread course. Avery attended culinary school at the French Culinary Institute in New York and worked under the master baker at Thomas Keller’s Per Se after graduating. Here’s hoping that they take ManresaBread on the road to other cities.

ANNIE SOMERVILLE. Annie Somerville is the Executive Chef of Greens Restaurant, which opened in 1979 as part of San Francisco Zen Center. Located in a former cavernous machine shop, Greens overlooks the San Francisco Marina with a view of the Golden Gate and Marin. The Green Gulch Farm in Marin supplies the restaurant will gorgeous organic produce year-round. As the author of Fields of Greens and Everyday Greens cookbooks, Annie Somerville has been ahead of the curve as the chef of a vegetarian restaurant since 1985, with it’s own garden and close relationships with cheese makers and other ingredient purveyors. It’s the original farm-to-table and the way we all strive to eat now. 

JOANNE WEIR. As the Chef of Copita Tequileria Y Comida in Sausalito and host of the PBS cooking series “Joanne Weir Gets Fresh”, Joanne Weir is a teacher, world-traveler, wine-maker and author. Best claim to fame? Julia Child selected Joanne’s first book From Tapas to Meze (1994, revised version 2004) as one of her 12 personal favorites out of 1,000 cookbooks published that year. She was awarded the very first IACP Julia Child Cooking Teacher Award of Excellence. Weir takes groups on culinary journeys from Provence to Marrakech to Greece to Venice. She is a 4th generation professional chef; her great-grandmother operated a restaurant in Boston at the turn of the century called Pilgrim’s Pantry. Weir spent 5 years at Chez Panisse with Alice Waters. Inspiration for her restaurant Copita was her book TEQUILA: A Guide to Types, Flights, Cocktail & Bites (2009).

DANA YOUNKIN. Another great chef from the great state of Minnesota, Dana Younkin’s culinary journey began at her family’s café, Swede Hollow, in St. Paul.  After studying anthropology at Wheaton College, she switched gears to attend the culinary arts program at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco (now officially known as Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in San Francisco) . Upon graduating and working in some of the City’s top restaurants, she was fortunate to meet her boss and self-professed mentor, Chef Nancy Oakes. Dana is now the evening Chef de Cuisine at Boulevard. As Oakes says, “She constantly pulls us in a more modern and interesting direction.” 

Cook On!

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