Canteen Chef Dennis Leary Explains Why There Are So Many Books In His Restaurant

Leary (center) with sous chefs Juliana Calderon and Luis Euan.
Leary (center) with sous chefs Juliana Calderon and Luis Euan. Photo: KQED

Chef and restaurateur Dennis Leary, who’s opening two more spots this year to add to his already considerable local empire of Canteen, The Sentinel, House of Shields, and The Golden West, gave a rare interview to KQED this week. In it he talks about the upcoming Café Terminus (10 California Street), and what his philosophy now is at his tiny Tenderloin flagship, Canteen. “I’m not there to prove that I’m smart or forage or pickle my own things. Now there’s a whole legion of people doing that and when I did have the time I used to pickle, cure, and butcher. Now it comes down to, ‘What’s a realistic use of my time?’”

Also, he now has his own 40-acre farm in Capay Valley called Gauchito Hill Farm, where he grows vegetables for the restaurant.

And he’s saddened by ubiquity of cell phones and iPads on people’s commutes, and in restaurants. “I have a restaurant stocked with books from my own collection and no one reads, or they rarely do. One of the great things I love is literature. I think I’m part of a dying species. In my way I want to maintain San Francisco bohemianism that is under threat.”

Chef Dennis Leary: One New Farm, Two New Restaurants [Bay Area Bites/KQED]