General Manager of The Grill on The Alley, Chris Dobie,  moved all over North America before settling down with his family in the South Bay. He’s made many connections over the last 17 years working for The Grill. Starting as a server, Dobie worked his way up the ladder to general manager. He spoke with about his life and work in Silicon Valley.

How long have you lived/worked in Silicon Valley?

I’ve been all over. I now live in live in Santa Clara and have worked at The Grill for 17 years but I was born in San Francisco and lived in Mexico for three years and in sixth grade lived in Oakland through high school. I have also lived in Fremont, Walnut Creek and Hawaii for a couple of years.

At what point did you decide to pursue your career in San Jose?

I’ve done a lot of moving. I think I moved 10 or 11 times between 1990 to 1994 so it has been nice to settle down.  My wife grew up in Santa Clara, and I moved from Fremont to Santa Clara when we moved in together. When I moved to Hawaii, I started waiting tables which is what started my restaurant career.

What do you like most about Silicon Valley?  

I’ve lived all over the bay, and I like the people and weather here as opposed other parts of the bay. Living in Santa Clara I see a lot of families and it’s relatively quiet. It’s also so accessible to everything. You can come downtown quickly and you’re only about 45 to 50 minutes to the city and that’s nice.

If you could change one thing about San Jose, what would it be?

The price of housing. I think it’s so expensive to live in this area, whether you’re renting or trying to buy and it’s cost prohibitive to stay. It’s such a great area melting pot of cultures, ethnicities and tolerance but if there’s a young couple looking to buy house and start a family it’s extremely difficult to start it in this area. so you end up losing people, who really love the area, to other communities such as the central valley or even out of state.

What Silicon valley event do you most look forward to every year?

It’s not an official event, but the hills turning green is something I look forward to every year. The hills  in Fremont, the  foothills in East San Jose, everything going toward Mount Hamilton, Calaveras, right in there, when all of that is just bright green especially this year since we got some rain, will be really nice. Spring is optimism and it’s always nice to get out of winter and see the green.

How do you like to hang out when you’re not working?

Usually with my family both of my kids play sports so hanging out at sporting events or relaxing at home, doing some barbecuing is fun.

What are some of your favorite dishes at The Grill?

Right now, it’s our dry aged New York steak. It’s delicious. It’s topped with fennel pollen and it’s a really flavorful piece of meat.

What do you enjoy most about working at The Grill?

The people that work here and the fact that being here at the Fairmont, you get such a cross section of cultures and social classes. Being in Silicon Valley you get the high tech people and there’s so many different people from different parts of life. It’s never the same job on consecutive days because every day is a new challenge.

What is a dish that you see often ordered?

Our filet mignon. People who really want a tender piece of meat, you can cut with a butter knife as opposed to a steak knife, like to order the filet mignon. You can top it with whatever sauce you would like and have it a variety of different ways such as truffle butter, or bearnaise sauce. It’s very versatile.

Being in downtown at the Fairmont there are some interesting guests who visit, have you ever gotten an opportunity to meet someone famous or a public figure?

We get a lot of celebrities and high profile guests that stay at the Fairmont. I don’t really get starstruck but Clint Eastwood stayed here for three or four days 13 years ago, and he was very nice, kind and down to earth. He engaged in me and the staff with conversation. We’ve had a lot of celebrities and politicians. When Schwarzenegger was governor, he came in for lunch and most recently during superbowl week, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and Chris Martin were here in the restaurant. That was kind of crazy.