Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Shortly after he took over the kitchen at Baraka in San Francisco, David Bazirgan was named a 2005 Chronicle Rising Star Chef. Within the year, he was put in charge of three restaurants — La Suite, Baraka and Chez Papa, which all feature different cuisines and styles.
It’s been a whirlwind, but by the end of the month, he’ll no longer be the executive chef at any of them. Bazirgan gave owner Jocelyn Bulow three months’ notice and is on the hunt for a restaurant of his own.
The parting was amicable, Bazirgan says, but “It was just time for me to move on and do my own thing.”
Bazirgan hopes to do a fine-dining oriented restaurant, but in a low-key style he feels befits San Francisco. He’s aiming for a lower price point than most fine-dining establishments, but will eventually offer tasting menus and wine pairings.
At Chez Papa (1401 18th St., at Missouri) Bazirgan has already been replaced by Olivier Souvestre. Souvestre worked as chef de cuisine at Spigalina in Lenox, Mass., and was executive chef at La Guirlande de Julie in Paris. Bulow says that by the end of the month half the menu will be different, reflecting the Provencal style that Bulow and partners originally intended for the restaurant.
At Baraka (288 Connecticut, at 18th Street), chef de cuisine Ereme Passado takes over. Passado has been with the restaurant for three years and, according to Bulow, was already overseeing the kitchen.
As for La Suite, Bulow said in an e-mail that he will close it at the end of July and reopen it in September as a totally new restaurant.
Although I have an “in” on what’s going to happen my lips are under lock and key. For now.
I fell in love with La Cocina when I visited it at an open house a couple of months ago. The “incubator kitchen” in the Mission District is a nonprofit organization that helps local low-income people create and market food products by providing a kitchen, storage space and professional development and support.
Now, the group will have its own retail outlet starting next month at the Sunday market at the Ferry Building. The hot food vendors will rotate from week to week, but the specialty products like the can’t-believe-they’re-vegan Lovemore Gourmet chocolates and beautifully simple Cmb Sweets will always be available.
As reported last week in Scoop, the Red Grill and Whiskey Lounge (4063 18th St., near Castro) has been sold. Now, I can tell you who the buyers are: the managing partners of the Glen Park hot spot Chenery Park (683 Chenery St., at Diamond).
“We want people to go to both restaurants, but for different reasons,” says Joe Kowal, also a partner.
Kowal and a fourth partner John Bedard have promoted server Matt Walker to be general manager of the new location, very tentatively named Eureka Restaurant & Bar. It’s set to open in early fall, after it’s freshened up with new paint and carpeting and a more upscale vibe to appeal to the Castro clientele.
Edible Communities have been popping up at farmers’ markets and stores around the country. The free local publications focus on organic, sustainable and other food issues in a magazine-style newsletter format.
Edible started in Ojai (Ventura County), and each one is usually owned, published and edited by one person.
Although the Edibles just hit the Bay Area within the past year, they’re already going through some changes. Writer-editor Bruce Cole is now publisher and editor of Edible San Francisco, which will combine San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma and San Mateo counties. Cheryl Koehler will fill both jobs for Edible East Bay.
No stranger to online media, SauteWednesday.com founder Cole is designing a Web site called Edible Nation, which will launch in July.
Edible Sonoma, which published just one issue, has officially ended production.
Caught up with Lance Dean Velasquez, owner of the just-closed Bendean in Berkeley. All is well, but he has traded in owning a restaurant for a job as the food and beverage director/executive chef of City Beach, a conference center in Fremont that does outside catering and special functions, as well as running an on-site restaurant called Pineapple Bar & Grill.
“It’s a great company and will position me in an easier transition to get out of the restaurant business,” says Valesquez. “My son is 9, and I don’t want him saying, ‘Where were you?’ when he is 16.”
Bendean (1647 Solano Ave., at Ventura) is up for sale.
More than 150 people showed up in San Francisco for round one of Bravo’s “Top Chef” auditions at the Sir Francis Drake on Sunday. In answer to a Craigslist ad, home chefs, ex-chefs and professional chefs came out to compete to be on the reality show where the winner gets a good chunk of change — nice collateral to start a restaurant.
Surprisingly, I ran into a few chefs I know, including Lime’s Sharon Ardiana and former Home chef Jeff Banker. Ardiana said she didn’t consider trying out until casting coordinator Woody Woodbeck recruited her from Lime’s kitchen, but that it would definitely be an interesting opportunity if she made the cut.
Upon entering, yours truly was asked: “Are you here to be a supportive girlfriend?” Maybe I should have competed after all.
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