Rumor Mill

What of the Chefs Who Don’t Have Kitchens to Call Home?

Clockwise: Ryan Farr, Mark Denham, Jordan Grosser, and Richie Nakano
Clockwise: Ryan Farr, Mark Denham, Jordan Grosser, and Richie Nakano Photo: Beard Awards, SF Business Times, Beer & Nosh

Being the food mecca that it is, San Francisco holds on to a fair amount of chef talent even when said chefs are homeless, or rather, restaurant-less. Free agent chefs with good résumés don’t often go without homes for long (cases in point Jeremy Fox, who we now know will be heading up Plum, and Justin Deering, formerly of Conduit who’ll be heading up Café Des Amis). So today, Grub Street brings you the list of the top eight chefs on our radar who are either casting nets for spaces and investors, or who are consumed with non-restaurant projects, but who will still likely land their own places in the next year.

George Chen: Since the shuttering of Shanghai 1930 around the holidays, all we heard was that Chen was eying a space in the ground floor of 101 California for a restaurant called DragonEye. So far, that project hasn’t appeared to be moving forward, and we’ve heard rumors that the deal might have gone south.

Jonathan Darsky: The former Flour + Water pizzaiolo announced last winter that he’d be going out on his own to open a wood-fired, Neapolitan pizza joint which might also be serving sandwiches. Thus far, Darsky has only told Grub Street that he’s looked at Hayes Valley and SOMA, but feels the Mission is too over-saturated with pizza. Still, he’d be open to any great space that fell in his lap.

Mark Denham:
Eater recently caught up with Mark Denham, the former Laiola chef who’s been hunting for a 60-seat space for his project Bishop, preferably in the Mission, with a wine and beer license. We know these sorts of spaces aren’t easy to come by in what is the most well-trafficked foodie neighborhood in town, and Denham’s already had a couple spaces fall through, including the former Provencale space where Salt Block will be opening soon. We wish him luck, and look forward to his first-come-first-serve restaurant, with a Spanish-leaning, New American menu. [Eater, Menu Here]

Ryan Farr: The 4505 Meats guru, who was once the opening chef at Orson, is apparently moving into a new space and doing something “different,” though he wouldn’t reveal what. He’s been busying himself with teaching butchery classes and selling his chicharrones, uncured hot dogs, and excellently juicy burgers at various markets and events. But soon we expect to see him cheffing again, in some shape or form. [Eater, Facebook]

Jordan Grosser: Marcia, a.k.a. Tablehopper, points us to the upcoming homelessness of former Alembic chef Jordan Grosser, who’s serving as executive chef at Postrio until the end of this month. We know via the Underground Farmers’ Market that Grosser’s been launching his own cheese business, Flosa Creamery, so it’s possible that there isn’t another restaurant in the cards just yet.

Robbie Lewis: The talented former chef at Bacar and Jardiniere is hunting for a location for his own operation, and at one point this winter salivated hard over the briefly available Citizen Cake space at Gough and Grove. He’s been making the rounds at industry events and twittering mightily, but still we have not word on what a Robbie Lewis restaurant might look like.

Richie Nakano: The former Nopa sous is actively trying to launch Hapa Ramen, having just done a pop-up event that was a bit the victim of blog buzz and inadequate facilities, and another last weekend that seems to have been more successful. There is clearly pent-up demand for good ramen around here, but Nakano’s also looking in the Mission where space is tight and liquor licenses are scarce.

Ryan Scott:
The Top Chef alum parted ways with Mission Beach Café last year, has been doing a lot of catering, and, like Chen, was also eying a space at 101 California. He recently told Grub Street that he’s looking to do a grab-and-go concept somewhere in the Financial District, but the 101 California deal hadn’t yet come to fruition. He also spoke of something “rolling out” soon, but the only hint of that may have been spotted at a Cinqo de Mayo party.

What of the Chefs Who Don’t Have Kitchens to Call Home?