In 2008, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, along with local industry PR maven Andrew Freeman, decided to start San Francisco‘s very own food festival, SF Chefs. Now in its fifth year, SF Chefs has grown to become one of the premier food weeks on the West Coast. From July 28 to August 4, food lovers and spirits aficionados can participate in a wide range of activities, including tastings, seminars and special dinners. Hungry for more details? Read on for everything you need to know about this not-to-be-missed California fest.
Though the festival technically has events happening July 28, things don’t really get cooking until August 2’s grand opening celebration at SF Chefs headquarters in Union Square. Food lovers can enjoy small bites, cocktails and wine inside a massive tasting tent. Participating restaurants include Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Spruce, celebrity chef Tyler Florence’s Wayfare Tavern and beloved San Francisco spots such as Baker & Banker, Absinthe Brasserie & Bar and Dosa. Esteemed local pastry chefs (such as Laura Cronin of Perbacco and Francis Ang of the Fifth Floor) will mark the event’s birthday by partaking in a cake competition. Festival-goers get to sample and judge the desserts, and the winning chef will receive a grand prize from Guittard Chocolate Company.
The tasting tent is open to the public three more times throughout the weekend, and this is the first year that each tasting will have a specific theme. On the afternoon of August 3, “The Five Tastes” (bitter, sour, sweet, salty and umami) will be explored. Four-Star Campton Place, oyster and ham bar Hog & Rocks and cult favorite Pizzeria Delfina are among the restaurants cooking up dishes for this sensory journey. That night, the theme changes to “Decadence After Dark,” and it will include selections inspired by chefs’ favorite songs and bands. Some of the city’s top Italian restaurants — A16, Delfina, Berreta and Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Rajat Parr‘s famed wine-centric eatery, RN74 — will be on hand as well. The final tasting tent event takes place the morning of August 4 and will appropriately feature brunch dishes created by trendy restaurants such as Chambers, Central Kitchen and Park Tavern.
If you’d like to learn a thing or two in between bites, get tickets for a festival class or demonstration. August 2 has been dubbed Food Arts Industry Day. It runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and includes a catered lunch where you’ll be able to sample the wines and wonderful cuisine of New Zealand. Learn how William Werner of Craftsman & Wolves makes his famed Rebel Within (a sausage muffin with a soft cooked egg inside) at the “How Did You Do That?” seminar. Explore the social media side of the restaurant world with Lindsay Tusk of Four-Star Quince at the “Hospitality & the Dining Room Experience: Before, During and After” discussion.
On August 3 and 4, there are more than 10 different seminars from which to choose. Discover “Regional Devotion” with the aforementioned Quince’s Tusk and Tastemaker Sean Brock. You’ll learn how each of these chefs is dedicated to regionally inspired cuisine. At “Get Fresh with Stone Fruit,” Gary Danko of the eponymous Four-Star restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf will teach you how to make a cool summer salad with a twist. Other seminars will show you how to whip up Asian flatbread, offer a blind tasting with local sommeliers and reveal how to create DIY cocktail mixers.
Of course, if mere nibbling won’t satisfy you, sign up for an exquisitely prepared, multi-course meal at SF Chefs. On July 28, Prospect chef Nancy Oakes will host “Masters of their Craft: Celebrating the Great Female Chefs & Sommeliers of San Francisco.” The seven-course dinner will be prepared by an all-girl group of illustrious chefs that includes Dominique Crenn, Loretta Keller, Melissa Perello and April Bloomfield. Each course will be paired with wines selected by a team of female sommeliers led by SPQR’s Shelley Lindgren. Many of the labels will also come from female winemakers. A dessert bar will be prepared by pastry chefs Emily Luchetti, Belinda Leong, Nicole Krasinski and others.
On August 2, chef Chris Cosentino will team with the National Pork Board to host a pig-centric dinner at his restaurant, Incanto. You will be able to sample Cosentino’s whole-hog cooking technique while sipping beers from local brewery Trumer Pils and sampling wines from Washington.
Photo courtesy of G9 Photography