STAR POWER: Bruno Chemel has made Baume a unique dining experience.
The chef-owned restaurant is something of a rarity in Silicon Valley. There is a difference between a restaurant owner who hires someone to do the cooking and the restaurant owner who also leads the kitchen. There are exceptions, but generally speaking the food of a restaurant is going to be better if the chef creating the menu also has his or her name attached to the restaurant. At their best, the food at these restaurants offers the vision, personality and attitude that can come only from the hands of their creators. I’ll go a step further and say that Silicon Valley’s mid- and upper-tier food scene would be better if there were more restaurant owners in the kitchen. So let us praise some of Silicon Valley’s chef-owners and the delicious food they create.
Joe Cirone/Hay Market- The first time I went to Hay Market, I knew Cirone was on to something different. Cirone is from San Jose but had traveled widely and so he knew what the city had and what it didn’t. He has created an exciting, worldly and approachable menu that is just what the city needed. When are you going to open a se cond place?
Josiah Slone/Sent Sovi- Slone mines the tradition of French food, but imbues it with a Northern California sensibility that is all his: clever, but approachable, distinct and delicious. The cozy, tucked-away location of the restaurant adds to the feeling that Slone is cooking just for you.
Masahiko Takei/Gochi- Japanese food is one of the strengths of Silicon Valley’s dining scene, and one of my favorite restaurant remains Gochi, because it embodies what I love about izakayas, small salty, fatty bites with plenty of top-shelf sake and soju. But Masahiko Takei’s ‘Japanese fusion tapas,’ as he calls his food, stands out from the rest of the valley’s Japanese for its genre-bending creativity.
Jesse Ziff Cool/Flea Street Bistro - The East Bay has Alice Waters, and here in Silicon Valley we’ve got Jesse Ziff Cool. Cool has been celebrating seasonal, farm-to-table cooking before it was, well, cool. At nearly 30 years, Flea Street still tastes fresh and exciting, and that’s because Cool’s vision and sensibilities make it so.
Bruno Chemel/Baume- Last year Chemel picked up his second Michelin star, a big deal for a chef born and raised in France. Baume is a singular restaurant in the Bay Area. The interior is spare and modern, yet warm and inviting. The setting is the perfect environment to appreciate Chemel’s cerebral, avant-garde cooking. You won’t find anything like it anywhere else.