7 New Chefs to Watch in San Francisco
San Francisco has plenty of established restaurants and talented chefs that you may even know by name, but here are some new names and places on our culinary scene for you to visit and keep an eye on. You can say you knew them when…
Ravi Kapur at Liholiho Yacht Club (871 Sutter St.)
Chef Ravi Kapur has been well known locally during his many years at Boulevard and then as the chef of Prospect, but it’s at his recent restaurant, the wildly popular Liholiho Yacht Club, where we are really seeing his cooking hit a new level. He has a heritage style of cooking, pulling from his Hawaiian roots, while weaving in California ingredients and finely tuned technique—his soulful and delicious food is inimitable, only he could do it.
Bret Cooper at Aster (1001 Guerrero St.)
Chef Brett Cooper started getting a lot of notice while he was cooking at Outerlands, and now he has his own place in the Mission, Aster (as part of the Daniel Patterson Group). His elevated cooking is inventive, full of beautifully sourced ingredients, with a California lightness (you can see evidence of his time cooking at Rubicon, Coi, and Saison) and artful presentation, treading the space between fine dining and casual fare.
Val Cantu at Californios (3115 22nd St.)
The chef-owner of this exciting Mission restaurant is a pop-up success story: he eventually made the move from Uchi in Austin (he’s from Texas) and was a sous at SF’s Sons & Daughters, to recently opening his own brick-and-mortar restaurant. Cantu’s innovative and modern cooking is influenced by his heritage, featuring Mexican ingredients and references.
Sara Hauman at Huxley (846 Geary St.)
This talented chef is practically a one-woman show in her tiny Tenderloin kitchen, making everything from charcuterie to the beautiful crust on her potpies. She was previously at Bar Agricole, and her cooking is very seasonal, soulful, and hits the right note of delicious simplicity. You’ll note her six months of staging at Asador Extebarri in Basque country when you take a bite of her Spanish omelet.
Aaron London at AL's Place (1499 Valencia St.)
This chef really came onto the Northern California cooking scene during his time at Ubuntu in Napa, and after it closed, he was preparing for his next venture: to open a restaurant in San Francisco. His persistence paid off, and now he has his own corner restaurant in the Mission, where diners can experience his entirely unique, creative, and sophisticated style of cooking which highlights seafood and vegetables.
John Becker at the Progress (1525 Fillmore St.)
At the popular sister restaurant to State Bird Provisions, The Progress, chef Stuart Brioza’s right-hand man in the kitchen is chef de cuisine John Becker, who worked at Boulevard and helped open Prospect with Ravi Kapur, but his roots are in New York (nine years) cooking with Michael White’s group (Ai Fiori) and Alain Ducasse (Gilt and Alain Ducasse at the Essex House). He creatively works with an extensive international pantry and the finest local ingredients.
Kim Alter at an upcoming restaurant (name TBD)
Another chef in the Daniel Patterson Group, Kim Alter was previously at Haven and Plum in the East Bay, where diners took note of her fascinating spin on California cuisine (and appealing plating). San Franciscans are eagerly awaiting her new restaurant due to open this fall in Hayes Valley, which will have a tasting menu format while offering a tone of casual elegance.
Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular insider weekly e-column, tablehopper, about the SF dining and drinking scene, get all the latest news at www.tablehopper.com. Follow @tablehopper on Twitter and Instagram for more SF finds!