Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

From San Francisco:

Michael Tusk, Quince restaurant

Shelling Beans by the Bay

by Susan Dyer Reynolds

Chef Michael Tusk

Michael Tusk took to food at an early age, and, after studying at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, ventured to Europe to further explore and expand his knowledge of cuisine. Upon his return to the states, the chef found a home in San Francisco. In December 2003, Tusk opened Quince restaurant in a space formerly occupied by a historic 19th century apothecary shop. Here he draws inspiration from Italian cuisine and features seasonal ingredients on a nightly changing menu. Perhaps it was his rural roots that inspired Michael Tusk to pursue a career in gastronomy. Whatever the reason may be, San Franciscans continue to delight in and savor the flavors of Tusk's cuisine.

Who or what was your biggest cooking influence?
Working with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse and with Paul Bertolli at Oliveto.

Why did you become a chef?
I grew up around apple orchards and strawberry patches, when the East Coast was less developed. I just loved to cook. I came from a foodie family—we ate out a lot and my cousin cooked in New York City. We'd go to a museum and then out to a restaurant, so definitely those trips to the Big Apple were very influential.

Proudest cooking or restaurant moment?
Having family and friends come to Quince—seeing them eating, smiling, enjoying. It's the kind of place where you can call ahead and I will prepare a special menu for a special evening, or you can come and have dinner once or twice a week.

Favorite ingredient?
Cardoons, artichokes... The thistle family. And I really like white asparagus. I love going to the Berkeley farmers market and getting things in season, the first of the year. That's always exciting. I got the first shelling beans today.

Least favorite ingredient?
I don't like truffle oil. It's so late '80s
.

If you weren't a chef, what would you be?
I'm not good at sitting at a desk. I collect photography, so I would have liked being a photographer. My family has pictures of me as a kid at the 1964 World's Fair with Elsie the Cow, so I guess the food thing was there early on.
 

Quince
470 Pacific Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94133
415-775-8500

Susan Dyer Reynolds is the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Northside San Francisco.

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