Posted By - Kate Spencer On May 17, 2015


Women in the Bay Area food world are change-makers.  They are transforming their communities, giving back, participating and supporting each other in their endeavors. Perhaps this is the legacy of Alice Waters, but everyone recognizes the power that exists in their talent. These women are using their culinary skills to make the world a better place.

COOKGIRL had a stunningly beautiful and delicious trip to San Francisco to experience the scene first hand.  

Between now and the end of May, our interviews with the iconic talents in San Francisco will appear on, from Emily Luchetti #dessertworthy to Liza Shaw #bestsubsandwichever; from Preeti Mistry #leadingthechargeinOakland to Traci Des Jardins #transformingthePresidio; and others on THE LIST from Alice Waters to Dominique Crenn; from Nancy Oakes to Pam Mazzola.

So what did we taste while in San Francisco for 24 hours? We landed at SFO and high tailed it to Berkeley to have dinner at Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse. Downstairs Monday Night Dinner is a 3-course or 4-course set menu inspired by what is happening in the garden. Lucky San Francisco. In this growing zone it was already “strawberry week”. 

The menu our Monday Night?

*Asparagus fritters with Meyer lemon mayonnaise pickled beets and frisée salad

*Grilled Wolfe Ranch quail with creamy morel mushroom sauce, sweet peas, fava beans and rice pilaf

*Zuppa di frutta with strawberry and ginger sorbetti

*Artisan Cheese

Asparagus, meyer lemons, beets, morels, sweet peas, strawberries = HEAVEN

The next morning was a delicious and perfect breakfast at The Cavalier, run by the self-proclaimed “FEmpire” of Big Night Restaurant Group which also includes Marlowe, Park Tavern and newly opened Marlowe Burger close to AT&T field. Big Night is run by a team of talented women including Anna Weinberger (Owner/Managing Partner), Nicole Blakely (Chief Beverage Officer), Emily Luchetti (Chief Pastry Officer) and Jennifer Puccio (Executive Chef).  

After breakfast and a few interviews, we headed to The Presidio to see first-hand the impact that Traci Des Jardins has had on this important San Francisco landmark.  

In October 2014, Arguello  opened in the Presidio Officer’s Club. It’s California’s seasonally based products cooked in a way that they would be cooked in Mexico and named after Luis Antonio Arguello, the first Mexican Governor of Alta California and commander of the Presidio from 1806 to 1822. 

Opened just 4 months before in June 2014, The Commissary pays homage to the Presidio’s Spanish history 1776-1821 with Spanish influenced California Cuisine. Products that are seasonal like sardines, anchovies and clams, create the bridge between Spain and San Francisco. The room is gorgeous with authentic Presidio items such as lighting fixtures from the historic Army gymnasium and Douglas fir dining tables from salvaged wood. 

Our lunch at The Commissary was, um, thorough:

*Green Bean Salad, avocado, frisée, pimento vinagreta

*Pan roasted chicken breast, artichoke, kale, chorizo vinegreta

*Mushroom Escabeche, montadito, arugula

*Grassfed Beef Burger, Manchego, piquillo tapenade, salad

Dessert was a double chocolate-sea salt cookie and olive oil ice cream sandwich. And we cannot forget to mention the bread. Oh, the bread. From Della Fattoria in Petaluma, CA.  

The Commissary also had a “Mercantile” with the perfect sardine, olive oil and wine selection. But it was the olive oil dispenser that COOKGIRL’s team coveted as we strolled through the open kitchen.  SuperFustinox Stainless Steel Olive Oil Dispenser.

Before leaving the Presidio, we stopped in at TRANSIT, the newest of Traci’s projects with The Presidio Trust. It’s a casual eatery and market to fuel a day in the park and is conveniently located near the PresidiGO Shuttle, the free transportation system that connect the part to downtown San Francisco. 

The day ended with the leading chefs and up and comers from around the San Francisco area gathered at the newly opened MARLOWE BURGER. We were there to celebrate this city’s wealth of talent in the culinary arts and mark the launch of COOKGIRL FOUNDATION, the charitable arm of COOKGIRL that will provide grants to women in the culinary arts starting in 2016.

Chef Jennifer Puccio put together a “best of” from the new Marlowe Burger Menu: 

*Fried Chicken Sliders

*Mini Marlowe Burger

*Prawns with boozy sauce

*Deviled Eggs

*Brussels Sprout Chips

*Chicken Nuggets

*Tartare Crostini

*Little Gem Lettuce Cups

…and the evening ended with #dessertworthy deliciousness from Chief Pastry Officer Emily Luchetti:

*Blondie Bars

*Double Chocolate Cookies

Next morning was departure, but leave it to San Francisco to complete the culinary experience at the SFO Airport.  

Terminal 2 included Napa Farms Market and Cat Cora’s Kitchen small plates. Next trip must be through Terminal 3 to visit Dogpatch Bakehouse & Caffee and Terminal 1 to visit Three Twins Ice Cream.

Cook On San Francisco!

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