Highlights from SF CHEFS 2013

Exploring cooking on both coasts with Charleston's Sean Brock (Husk) & SF's Daniel Patterson (Coi) during an 8/2 cooking demo

Exploring cooking on both coasts with Charleston’s Sean Brock (Husk) & SF’s Daniel Patterson (Coi) during an 8/2 cooking demo

Good humor and rapport between Chefs Patterson (left) and Brock (right) on 8/2 cooking demo

Good humor and rapport between Chefs Patterson (left) and Brock (right) on 8/2 cooking demo

SF Chefs is one of my more anticipated food and drink events all year. Partly because it is now in its fifth year, it runs like a well-oiled ship, a buzzy flow of seminars, classes, luncheons, tasting events and parties, the four main Grand Tastings being held in an entirely tented Union Square, which always feels like a party in itself.

As San Francisco’s food and wine classic, the event features solid wines, though the selection at Pebble Beach Food & Wine Classic is far stronger, as one comparison. But the food at SF Chefs is excellent and varied at any of the grand tastings from key Bay Area chefs.

In past years, the cocktail portion has been stronger with local bars representing SF’s long-established cocktail culture throughout the tent. This year, 8/1 atop the Westin was meant to be the cocktail and bites-focused night. Real estate has become too valuable in the tent, so besides Elixir, pulling out all the stops with a changing menu of five different cocktails during each Grand Tasting, and cocktail catering/consultants, Ananas and Rye on the Road, cocktails during the Grand Tastings were all brand-sponsored, with cocktails made by local bartenders.

Via photos, just a few of the best food, drinks and moments from SF Chefs 2013:

8/1: Bar Bites atop the Westin St. Francis

8/2: Fifth Anniversary Opening Celebration in the Grand Tasting Tent

SF Chefs Chris Cosentino - Virginia Miller

Chris Cosentino (Incanto) slices up Berkshire pigs stuffed with truffle mortadella, pâté de campagne, and smoked liverwurst

Rye on the Road presented a menu of four different (blissfully boozy) shave ice flavors, including

Rye on the Road presented a menu of four different (blissfully boozy) shave ices, including this winner of roasted cantaloupe syrup, poblano chili tincture, sweetened condensed milk, Espolon tequila

Betelnut’s raw day boat scallops marinated in nouc cham sauce with kaffir lime peanut brittle and sweet black sesame purée on black sesame rice crackers

Roman BLTs on pizza bianca with juicy Early Girl tomatoes and guanciale from Locanda

Locanda’s Roman BLTs on pizza bianca with guanciale & Early Girl tomatoes

SF Chefs Cynar - Virginia Miller

Perfection: espresso & Cynar (Italian artichoke liqueur/amaro) shots at the Campari cocktail cart


Ananas Consulting’s Lillet shots: Lillet Blanc & Rose, pisco, rosewater; Lillet Rose, Campari, watermelon; Lillet Rouge, plum liqueur,  Del Maguey mezcal


Chef Peter Armellino's luxurious caviar cannoli as my first bite of the night. At one end peeked a black head of California Hackleback caviar, donated by the California Caviar Company. At the other, diced chives decorated the filling of smoked sturgeon mouse, creamy with mascarpone and crème fraîche.

From the Village Pub in Woodside: sweet corn & Summer truffle fritters

Roasted White Chocolate Crémeux from Absinthe How does one roast white chocolate? For this innovative and irresistible dessert, pastry chef Bill Corbett cooked the white chocolate in a water bath over low temperature to gently toast the mild solids. His method turned the crémeux a pale shade of pumpkin and gave it a caramel flavor. This slightly-sweet pudding accompanied a mild tarragon foam and juicy raspberry compote mixed with a little fennel. Crumbled chocolate cookies stepped in for crunch

Absinthe Pastry Chef Bill Corbett’s roasted white chocolate crémeux – I’m not even a white chocolate fan & I loved this dessert; the roasted effect gave it a caramelized taste, topped with tarragon foam, raspberry compote, chocolate cookie crumble

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8/3: The Five Tastes: Bitter, Sour, Salty, Sweet & Umami in the Grand Tasting Tent

8/3: Decadence After Dark, The Menu is In the Music in the Grand Tasting Tent


Farallon’s Louisiana prawn & scallop sausage w/ whole grain mustard creme fraiche

Chef Michael Mina poses for photos as he serves food

Chef Michael Mina poses for photos as he serves food


Thanks, Bluestem Brasserie, for Torchon of Hudson Valley Foie Gras w/ peaches on brioche, atop a turntable









Alexander's Steakhouse

Alexander’s Steakhouse’s silky steak tartare decadently topped with chicharrones


Sens’ tasty sweet-savory apricots stuffed w/ chicken tagine, pistachios, spiced yogurt


Gitane’s Butifarra Negra: blood sausage decadently topped with raw scallops, sweet corn, pickled onions