by Anneli Rufus
The foodfest known as SF Chefs has outdone itself yet again, lifting San Francisco ever higher into the culinary stratosphere with a wildly creative span of events ranging from an all-female-chefs deluxe dinner to a Portuguese wine intensive to a Nutter Butters cook-off between top local chefs.
Now in its fifth year, the weeklong gala culminated on Sunday, August 4, with “Brunch by the Bay,” in which dozens of chefs from top Bay Area restaurants made and served their versions of morning food, from French pastries to dim sum, inside a vast tent — with cocktails to match. On the previous day, “The Five Tastes: Bitter, Sour, Salty, Sweet and Umami” found chefs and mixologists sifting, grilling, rolling and shaking in the same Grand Tasting Tent, vouchsafing remarkable creations to a standing-room-only crowd.
Among these many treats were pork-and-kimchi potstickers, salted lavender butter cookies, pork-topped churro-batter waffles, coconut-Campari snow cones, peach fritters, scallops on the half shell and Chambord cupcakes. Staffan Terje, chef-owner of Perbacco Ristorante + Bar, offered sculptural tomato sformatino. David Lawrence, chef-owner of 1300 on Fillmore, offered creamy chocolate-mint tarts. La Boulange de Polk’s booth featured fragrant pyramids of madeleines, financiers and passion-fruit macarons. The folks from Pizzeria Delfina served indulgent, pretty-as-Impressionist-paintings gelato-brioche sandwiches. A series of classes conducted inside the Grand Tasting Tent included a rousing session on pairing oysters with Bowmore Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky, some of which was 25 years old.
Also on the months-long, star-studded SF Chefs calendar were a flatbread cooking class, a Belgian beer pairing adventure with chef Charles Phan, a blind wine tasting with local sommeliers, a dance party featuring tunes that have inspired local chefs and much more. An Iron Chef-style cookoff pitted Fifth Floor‘s David Bazirgan and One Market‘s Mark Dommen against Bourbon Steak‘s Omri Aflalo and Spruce‘s Mark Sullivan. The mystery ingredient turned out to be a range of nut-butter products, including Nutter Butter cookies.
A glamorous “Bar Bites” evening in the historic Westin St. Francis Hotel revealed that bar fare has evolved about a million years beyond peanuts and Bud into a shimmering realm inhabited by Cynar, Curaçao, Angostura bitters, gomme syrup, house-made pickles, seven-layer cookies, seared duck breast with blackberry agrodolce, pansy-topped tequila-braised pork and much more. The folks from Parallel 37 served a cocktail called the Pig ‘n’ Boots, comprising Pig’s Nose Scotch, Lillet rosé, yuzu, lavender syrup and cinnamon. The folks from Plum Bar served pork cracklings paired with fresh watermelon cocktails. Dosa‘s offering was a savory mango cocktail featuring Templeton rye, cumin, pink peppercorn, coriander, chilies and saffron.
Whatever else is happening out there in the world, one thing is true: These are dazzling days in which to eat and drink.
SF Chefs website
Top 10 Single Malt Scotch list on GAYOT.com
Top Rated San Francisco Restaurants on GAYOT.com
Top 10 Chef’s Tables in San Francisco list on GAYOT.com
Westin St. Francis website
You can click on each picture to enlarge. Photos courtesy of Kristan Lawson.