Chris Cosentino, aka @OffalChris, graduated from the culinary program at Johnson & Wales University and went on to build his résumé at Red Sage in Washington, D.C. and Rubicon, Chez Panisse, Belon, and Redwood Park in the San Francisco Bay Area. Cosentino took his first executive chef position in 20002 at Incanto, where his inspired and innovative interpretations of rustic Italian fare promptly earned the restaurant both critical and popular acclaim. Cosentino is also the co-creator and chef of Boccalone artisanal salumeria and has gained international recognition as a leading expert and proponent of offal cookery.
He has been notably featured on the Food Network in the Next Iron Chef America and Chefs vs. City and has penned several articles firsthand for national publications including Mountain Biking magazine, Jamie Oliver, and the cult-favorite comic Wolverine. Cosentino’s first cookbook, Beginnings: My Way to Start a Meal from Olive Press media, debuted in 2012, when he also participated in BRAVO’s Top Chef Masters, earning more than $140,000 for the Michael J. Fox foundation for Parkinson’s research as the Season Four winner. Cosentino is a brand ambassador for Shun Cutlery with a proprietary line of knives. In late 2014, he opened Cockscomb in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood. He is currently working on a title dedicated to offal with writer and photographer Michael Harlan Turkell, to be published by Clarkson Potter.
Gillian Helquist leads the program for SHED’s Fermentation Bar, creating the seasonal flavor profiles of the ever-changing kombuchas, shrubs, and shims (low-alcohol cocktails). In her work at SHED, Helquist is continually learning on the job, deepening her knowledge of all aspects of fermentation through experimentation and research of preservation techniques. She describes fermentation as “an endless discovery; an ancient way to preserve the season’s offerings and to feed people.”
Helquist has been cooking and baking since her teenage years. She received her AOS from the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park in 1997 and then trained under chefs Paul Bertolli and Michael Tusk at Oliveto in Oakland. After a year’s hiatus spent studying the art of pastry and pasta in the Piedmonte and Emilia Romagna regions of Italy, she returned stateside to help open Quince restaurant as pastry chef.
After relocating to Sonoma County, Helquist worked as server and manager at Manzanita. She joined SHED as Food and Beverage Manager just after it opened in 2013 and oversees the busy Café, Fermentation Bar, and events. Helquist lives with her family in Sebastapol.
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Senior Food Editor, Sunset Magazine Menlo Park, California
Elaine Johnson first went camping at the tender age of 4 months and her grandparents met while they were hiking, so it’s no surprise that this food editor loves grilling, camp cooking, and all things related to adventurous dining in the open air. As Senior Food Editor and co-editor of Sunset The GreatOutdoors Cookbook, Johnson has delved into everything from grilling great carne asada and making the ultimate s’mores to building a pizza oven. She’s also a founder of Camp Sunset, the new initiative, debuting this May in the magazine and at sunset.com, designed to help readers become better campers.
Johnson also enjoys cooking adventures in the kitchen and garden, and edits the magazine’s Peak Season and Sunset Kitchen columns. She has contributed to The Sunset Cookbook and The One-Block Feast. In between time at the magazine, she has worked as a freelance writer, editor, and recipe developer for magazines and cookbooks such as Safeway’s Every Season, Weber’s Charcoal Grilling, and Weber’s Way to Grill.
At home in Palo Alto, she enjoys growing her own food and cooking with her husband and twin teenage boys.
After an initial foray into photojournalism, teen baker Elisabeth Prueitt reconsidered a career in the culinary arts after visiting San Francisco and seeing the City’s successful women chefs.
She returned to New York and enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America, where she met classmate Chad Robertson after her externship at Montrachet. Soon after graduating in 1993, the two were married. Together they moved to the Berkshires, where Robertson baked breads at the Mountain Bakery and Prueitt made pastry for Canyon Ranch Spa.
Next Robertson and Prueitt spent a year traveling and working around France, where they fully immersed themselves in classical French technique. Set on establishing this tradition in California, the two moved to Point Reyes Station, opening the modest Bay Village Bakery in 1995. While Robertson baked breads, Prueitt created pastries, which they sold at local farmers’ markets. Their reputation spread, but they found themselves missing city life, hence their fateful move to San Francisco in July 2002 to open Tartine Bakery. Rave reviews followed: Prueitt was named Pastry Chef of the Year in 2002 by San Francisco magazine, and in 2008 the couple won the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Pastry Chefs.
In the interim, they opened Bar Tartine, a restaurant currently serving Hungarian and Northern European–influenced food, and published three beautifully photographed cookbooks based on the bakery’s recipes. Prueitt’s most recent endeavor is the Conductive Education Center of San Francisco (CECSF), a non-profit school for children with motor challenges. (The couple’s daughter Archer, who has motor delays due to cerebral palsy, has been helped significantly by this program.)
Next up: Tartine Japan, set to open in late summer 2015, and The Manufactory, a bakery/eatery/preservation kitchen in the Heath Factory in San Francisco, slated for fall 2015.
Yigit Pura began his training in the pastry arts at The Meetinghouse in San Francisco, and gained further experience at such other local meccas as Postrio and Gary Danko. He moved to Manhattan in 2003 and worked at Le Cirque 2000 and the Four Seasons Hotel, both under executive pastry chef Luis Robledo-Richards. Under the tutelage of renowned chef/owner Daniel Boulud, Pura served at both Restaurant Daniel as pastry sous chef, and at Daniel Boulud in Las Vegas as executive pastry chef.
Pura joined Taste Catering & Event Planning as Executive Pastry Chef in Spring 2007, and with them has opened two branches of the high-end pastry shop, Tout Sweet Pâtisserie in San Francisco’s Union Square and in Town and Country, Palo Alto. Plans are in the works to expand nationally.
Culinary television aficionados might recognize this passionate pastry chef as the winner and fan favorite of the first season of BRAVO’s Top Chef Just Desserts, though he has also been featured in magazines, such as Food & Wine, Sunset, People, Entertainment Weekly, OUT magazine, and GQ Turkey (Pura is Turkish in origin). Pura is proud to use his celebrity to advocate causes close to his heart, among them Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project, Meals on Wheels, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, Project Open Hand, and the ASPCA. His first cookbook, Sweet Alchemy, is available now.
James Beard Award winner and critically acclaimed chef, Craig Stoll, might be a New York native and a San Franciscan at heart, but it’s his love and respect for soulful Italian cooking that have come to define him. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America and working through some of San Francisco’s finest restaurants, Stoll was awarded a scholarship to attend the ICIF cooking school in Torino, Italy. Once there, an externship at Tuscany’s one-Michelin-star restaurant Da Delfina paved his vision. He returned to San Francisco and, in 1998, along with his wife Annie, opened Delfina, a relatively casual 50-seat restaurant located in the then up-and-coming Mission District, serving rustic Italian food infused with San Francisco’s local and sustainable values.
Delfina quickly became a major dining destination, bringing people from all over to try Stoll’s cooking, including signature dishes such as the fresh-grilled calamari, the insalata di campo and the spaghetti, and demanding the restaurant’s expansion to 85 seats. This ultimately garnered him a place as one of Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs” in 2001 and the ‘Best Chef: Pacific’ award from the James Beard Foundation in 2008. In 2005, the Stolls opened their first Pizzeria Delfina next door, following up with a second location in Pacific Heights in 2009, and two more down on the Peninsula in Burlingame and Palo Alto in 2014. With the addition of Locanda, an upscale Roman Osteria and Bar, complete with artisanal cocktails, Stoll solidified his reputation as one of the country’s most dynamic and influential chefs.
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Executive Chef, Locanda, San Francisco, California, locandasf.com
Iowa native Anthony Strong might be known for his way with Italian cooking, but like many chefs, he cut his teeth on French technique, working as sous chef at Vincent in Minneapolis and at Le Bernardin in New York, where he learned discipline and refined techniques. But it took moving to San Francisco—where he was hired to work at Delfina in 2005 by James Beard Award–winning chef Craig Stoll—to be humbled by the simple things, he says. For example: pizza dough, that deceptively finicky basic with a life of its own that Strong had to master for Pizzeria Delfina. To do this, Strong went on annual pilgrimages to Naples and the Almafi Coast. With every visit grew his love for ingredients such as ricotta, fresh mozzarella, and garum—the Italian version of fish sauce. Such staples are the basis for much of the rustic sophistication for which Delfina and its two pizzerias are known. (They are famous enough to have their “Panna Pie” ranked third in the country by GQ magazine’s lauded critic Alan Richman).
Today, Strong serves as Executive Chef of Locanda. After spending the summer of 2010 in Rome, Strong took the deep-dive into its cuisine, including Quinto Quarto (or offal) dishes; liberal doses of black pepper and guanciale; and, of course, the ancient city’s famous pastas, such as bucatini all’amatriciana and spaghetti carbonara. Strong received the Rising Star Chef 2012 award from the San Francisco Chronicle and led Locanda to a Best New Restaurant Award by 7×7 Magazine in 2012.
Born in Ubonratchathani, Thailand and raised in Oakland, California, James Syhabout studied at California Culinary Academy and began his career at Manresa in Los Gatos, advancing quickly to sous chef. Syhabout’s close work there with Chef David Kinch inspired his interest in different European cuisines, so it was natural that after two years, he would head to Europe to continue his culinary education. There, he worked in the United Kingdom and at various restaurants in Spain, including Alkimia in Barcelona and the groundbreaking El Bullí.
Following further culinary explorations through France and Italy, Syhabout returned to Manresa as a consultant. In 2006, he collaborated with Chef Daniel Patterson on the logistics of opening Coi in San Francisco. After Coi, Syhabout was scouted as executive chef at Plumpjack Café. Within one year, he had earned a rave 3.5-star review from the San Francisco Chronicle and was recognized as a “Rising Star Chef” by San Francisco Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and StarChefs.Com. After accumulating numerous accolades at Plumpjack Cafe, Syhabout was recruited back to Manresa as Chef de Cuisine. His return was largely motivated by the restaurant’s involvement with Love Apple Farms and grower Cynthia Sandberg. His experience working with Sandberg resulted in a true farm-to-plate approach as he developed the menus.
By 2010, Syhabout had launched Commis, the first fine-dining restaurant in Oakland. Mere months after opening, it was awarded a Michelin star, as well as a “Best New Chef” nod from Food & Wine. Laotian Thai food–inspired Hawker Fare followed in 2011, in the very same Oakland location as his mother’s former restaurant. Next came Box & Bells Eating House and the casual, beer-centric The Dock, both in Oakland, and then the 2015 opening of a Hawker Fare San Francisco.
Additionally, Syhabout has twice appeared on Food Network’s Iron Chef America, as sous chef for the victorious Mourad Lahlou and David Kinch.
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Food Editor, Sunset Magazine, Menlo Park, California
Margo True has been the food editor at Sunset since 2006. Before coming to Sunset, she was the executive editor at Saveur magazine, and before that, a senior editor and writer at Gourmet. True has won several honors for her writing, including four James Beard journalism awards, and her pieces have been anthologized in the Best Food Writing series. She edited The Sunset Cookbook (Oxmoor, 2010) and The Sunset Edible Garden Cookbook (Oxmoor, 2012), and with several colleagues wrote The One-Block Feast (Ten Speed Press, 2011), a backyard-farming book based on the magazine’s James Beard Award-winning blog, oneblockdiet.com. Her newest project, co-edited with Elaine Johnson and published last month is called SunsetThe Great Outdoors Cookbook.
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Chef/author/TV personality, “Joanne Weir Gets Fresh”, San Francisco, California joanneweir.com
Joanne Weir is a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author and judge, international cooking teacher, and chef. A fourth generation professional chef, Weir’s early years in food included time spent cooking with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, and a sojourn studying with Madeleine Kamman in France, where she was awarded a Master Chef Diploma with honors.
Weir is a familiar face on television. She has been featured on Today, Good Morning America and the Food Network, and has starred in several award-winning PBS series of her own, including “Joanne Weir’s Cooking Class” and “Joanne Weir’s Cooking Confidence.” Her newest TV series “Joanne Weir Gets Fresh” began airing nationally in January, 2015. The industrious chef has produced seven renowned cookbooks. Her most recent—Joanne Weir’s Cooking Confidence (Taunton Press 2012)—helps the reader produce more than 100 delicious main courses.
Weir opened Copita, a modern Mexican restaurant and tequileria in Sausalito, California, with restaurateur Larry Mindel in 2012. It was named Best Mexican Restaurant in the Bay Area by 7×7 magazine and featured on the cover of San Francisco magazine as one of the best Mexican restaurants in San Francisco in 2014.
Weir has received many awards and accolades during her illustrious career. She was appointed by Hillary Clinton and the State Department to the American Chef Corp. in 2012, becoming one of only 80 American chefs named to promote world relations through food. She was awarded the first IACP Julia Child Cooking Teacher Award of Excellence. In 2013, Weir was honored with the Tour Operator of the Year Award from the IACP for her highly acclaimed Culinary Journeys program. Through the program, Weir and her students travel and study cooking in such iconic culinary meccas as Provence, France; Tuscany, Italy; and Marrakech, Morocco. Her online wine business, Joanne Weir Wines, launched in 2011, collaborates with artisanal wine makers to produce award-winning Californian and international wines.
“Yan can cook, so can you!” has always been the motto of Martin Yan, chef extraordinaire and popular television host recognized from Shanghai to San Francisco. Promoting Chinese cuisine and making it easy for the cook and tasty for the guests has been his life-long mission.
After receiving his formal restaurant training in Hong Kong, the Guangzhou, China-born chef immigrated to Calgary, Canada, where one winter’s day in 1982 he was asked to appear in a daytime news program to demonstrate Chinese cooking. From that small station in Canada, the Yan Can Cook Show grew to become one of the most popular cooking programs on public television. Yan has hosted more than 1,500 episodes of the show and it won the James Beard Award for Best Food Documentary Show for two consecutive seasons. In total, his shows, which include Martin Yan’s Chinatown Cooking, Martin Yan’s Hidden China, and Martin Yan—Quick & Easy, have been broadcast in more than 50 countries. Most recently, Martin Yan’s Taste of Vietnam, a 26-episode public television series, debuted here in fall 2014. Chef Yan has also guest judged on Iron Chef America, Top Chef, and Hell’s Kitchen.
Beyond television, Yan has written more than two dozen cookbooks, opened a chain of Yan Can Restaurants, and founded the Yan Can International Cooking School in the Bay Area. The American Culinary Federation has designated him a Master Chef and he has received an honorary Doctorate degree in Culinary Arts from the world’s culinary training mecca, Johnson & Wales University.