Food critic Josh Sens, writing in San Francisco Magazine’s new “Best of SF” issue, writes that a new generation of local chefs opening restaurants in the last couple of years “respect Chez Panisse but refuse to be confined by its popular aesthetic. They revere ingredients but aren’t afraid to alchemize them through refined technique.” He’s speaking of chefs in their late 20s and early 30s like James Syhabout (Commis), Ravi Kapur (Prospect), Josh Skenes (Saison), and Kim Alter (the upcoming Plate Shop), who are moving beyond the simple and using both new- and old-school technique to breathe new life into the food scene here.
Sens suggests that we might finally be seeing the dawn of a new age of refined, inspired, non-fig-on-a-plate cuisine, and he quotes Manresa’s Beard Award-winning chef David Kinch as saying, “My sense is that we’re on the cusp of becoming one of the world’s truly great food regions. What we need is that little push over the edge, and I think there’s a good chance we’re going to get it from the next generation.”
Also in the new issue, the mag crowns Syhabout — most recently a Food & Wine Best New Chef — as their Best Chef, and this says a lot for the quality of his food given that his restaurant’s in Oakland and this is San Francisco Magazine. He told Grub Street earlier that his mom, who’s also a restaurateur, didn’t really get the refined nature of what he was doing at Commis, and now he admits, “To this day, she’s never eaten at Commis. She doesn’t understand why anyone would spend more than half an hour eating a meal.”
Thomas McNaughton of Flour + Water wins their Rising Star honor for bringing “newfound refinement to a pizza-and-pasta joint.” Also, they give props to Aziza pastry chef Melissa Chou, and Nopa wine director Chris Deegan.