Swoon Alert! S.F.'s Hottest Chefs Under 30

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Ask anyone familiar with the San Francisco culinary scene and they will attest: Our fair city is handsomely peppered with some of the nation’s best and most burgeoning restos. And while we can't stop raving about the mouth-watering cuisine, there’s no arguing that the super-talented guys behind the scenes are responsible for all the Michelin magic. Among the top-rated cuisiniers is a crop of impressively young (all 30 and under!), swoon-worthy fellas who are heating things up way beyond kitchen. Ever wonder what the chefs from Ubuntu and Locanda make on a first date, or who their biggest chef crushes are? Well, you’re about to find out—we got the juicy deets (ahem, single statuses!) from the area’s coolest rising chefs. Just click through to see the dapper dudes who are whetting our appetites!

chefs under 30
Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux.

Name: Anthony Strong

Age: 29

Restaurant: Locanda

Single or taken?
“Taken. Pretty sure her name is Locanda, but I still see my girl Pizzeria Delfina on the side…please don’t tell.”

What local chefs are you digging right now?
“Nick, our next-door neighbor at Bar Tartine, is doing some really great stuff. His food is so unique, nobody is doing Eastern European right now, and he understands it well enough to fit it into a California aesthetic seamlessly. I find it really refreshing and inspiring to eat there, and I crrraaavvve the fried potato bread. Like, I think impure thoughts about it.”

Who is your all-time (non-local) chef crush? "Napa is just-barely non-local, right? So, Thomas Keller. Duh.”

What are your food-related deal breakers?
“Use of the word foodie.”

What are your food-related turn-ons?
“I’d have to say any girl that scrapes the meat off of her spareribs and discards it in my direction only so that she can have the pure satisfaction of chewing all of the cartilage off the bones. Uninhibited by pesky meat. Hot.”

What is your ideal first-date spot?
Turtle Tower at 8 a.m. I know it’s kind of weird, but I like to decide if I like someone over pho.”

When you want to impress your date, what do you cook them?
“Spa food—light and delicate poached fish, pretty vegetables, and such. It lets her know you’ve got a sensitive touch and possibly a slight understanding of things feminine.”

Do you have any foodie-groupie horror stories?
“Yes. Thankfully, I blocked out specifics from my memory. Though, they probably called themselves foodies. Not hot. This chef thing is overly-fantasized. The reality is we get home at 2 a.m. and are complete stress balls, spring on our toes five hours later, then we do our thing again, and you might not see us in forever. That’s the harsh reality horror story of dating a chef.”

chefs under 30
Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux.

Name: Aaron London

Age: 28

Restaurant: Ubuntu

Single or taken?
“Single, but forever in love with the beautiful women of the world.”

What local chefs are you digging right now?
“Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Food.”

Who is your all-time (non-local) chef crush? Michael Anthony.”

What are your food-related deal breakers?
“Under-seasoned food.”

What are your food-related turn-ons?
“Fresh-picked raw products, at the height of their potential.”

What is your ideal first-date spot?
“Drinking sparkling wine and eating wild blackberries in the outer reaches of West Sonoma County.”

When you want to impress your date, what do you cook them?
“Anything, as long as I’m only wearing an apron.”

Do you have any foodie-groupie horror stories?
“I’m kind of a groupie myself! I thought it would be awesome to be at a Bocuse d’Or USA meeting in the same room as Jacques Pépin, Thomas Keller, Jérôme Bocuse, and Daniel Boulud, to name a few. I ended up having a panic attack and hiding out in Central Park, drinking gin from a plastic cup! Smooth!”

chefs under 30
Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux.

Name: Thomas McNaughton

Age: 28

Restaurant: Flour + Water and the soon-to-open Central Kitchen and Salumeria

Single or taken?
“Single.”

What S.F. chefs are you digging right now?
Brandon Jew always has something interesting on his ever-changing menu. I love the combination of great cocktails and good food. Also, Matt Accarrino. It’s always great to see the combination of old-world technique and innovation perfectly executed.“

Do you have any food-related deal breakers?
“I’ve cooked so many seared scallops during my 10 years at Gary Danko that it’s impossible for me to eat them nowadays.”

What is your ideal first-date spot?
“I think the ideal first date is to hop around some of my favorite restaurants. It keeps it interesting.”

When you want to impress your date, what do you cook them?
“I would get a wood fire going on my deck and cook something simple and have a good bottle of wine.”

Do you have any foodie-groupie horror stories?
“We had someone at the restaurant leaving long messages in the middle of the night for quite some time.”

chefs under 30
Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux.

Name: Eddie Dick

Age: 30

Restaurant: Nopa

Single or taken?
“Single.”

What local chefs are you digging right now?
“I’m a huge fan of the food Greg Dunmore is cooking at Nojo right now. I lived in Japan for three years and he is cooking the best Japanese food I’ve eaten in America.”

Who is your all-time (non-local) chef crush? “Martha Stewart.”

What are your food-related deal breakers?
“Non-adventurous eating. You have to be willing to try everything once.”

What are your food-related turn-ons?
“Baked goods. Cookies, pies, cobblers, and the ability to bake them is a major turn-on.”

What is your ideal first-date spot?
Bi-Rite Creamery.”

When you want to impress your date, what do you cook them?
“Soup. All different kinds of soup. Chicken-vegetable soup, carrot-ginger soup, corn chowder, you name it.”

chefs under 30
Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux.

Name: Thomas Martinez

Age: 25

Restaurant: Mission Beach Cafe

Single or taken?
“Taken.”

What local chefs are you digging right now?
“Carlo at Comstock, Mourad at Aziza, and Jake at Mission Local Eatery. They all are doing their own distinct styles of food. I talk to them often at the market.”

Who is your all-time (non-local) chef crush? “Thomas Keller and Charlie Trotter. They are great influences in my life. Their classic backgrounds in cuisine, but new-aged style and technique are amazing. They are ageless in my mind and I would love to follow them around and pick their brains for days. Even have them boss me around!”

What are your food-related deal breakers?
 “Under-seasoned food. I don't want to be the dick who is seen salting his food at the table.”

What are your food-related turn-ons?
 “Having my girl cook for me. She's learning a lot and getting better, and seeing her in action is sexy, not to mention it's relaxing to be cooked for.”

What is your ideal first-date?
“The tasting menu at Commonwealth, a bottle of Pinot I helped harvest, crushed, and bottled. Dressing up. Drinks at Elixir and sweet kisses and conversions about traveling. Walking her home, and drinking a beer on the stoop.”

When you want to impress your date, what do you cook them?
“Something simple that satisfies and warms the heart, like green curry and brown rice or meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Just to show I like taking care of her and that I’m not trying to show off.”

Do you have any foodie-groupie horror stories?
“After an Outstanding in the Field event, a very drunk woman who was cooking with us that night started to feel up my leg from under the table. While we were eating! She would not stop, even though I told her I was not enjoying her aggressive tactics. My friends were laughing at me under their breath, and when she got up to use the restroom I moved to the other side of the table. It was a big joke for my chef friends. They love bringing it up from time to time, calling her my second girlfriend.”

chefs under 30
Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux.

Name: Evan Bloom and Leo Bekerman

Age: 26 (Evan), 28 (Leo)

Restaurant: Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen

Single or taken?
“Single.”

What local chefs are you digging right now?
Leo:Traci Des Jardins and Ian Marks. Traci has multiple restaurants, and has trained some of the best chefs around and remains extremely down to earth, involved in the community, and interested in new chefs and new concepts. Ian, of Beast and the Hare, is a charcutier extraordinaire. He has a great time making food and has one of the best ginger beards of all time.”
Evan: “Our neighbors at the Ferry Building, Hapa Ramen. The Monday night Hapen Ramen pop-up at Tartine has some of the most original and delicious food in the city. It manages to be comforting and soulful, while still being innovative and fresh. I’m very excited for their new space in the Fillmore.”

Who is your all-time (non-local) chef crush?
Evan: “Christina Tosi from Momofuku. I’m pretty smitten by what she does with classic junk-food sweets.”

What are your food-related deal breakers?
Leo: “Food is one of life’s simple—and sometimes not so simple—pleasures. I don’t mind restricted diets, but you have to enjoy sitting down to break bread and eatting it, of course.”
Evan: “Girls who don’t eat. If we go out on a date and you order a salad or pick at your plate like a bird, I’m not interested. Can you finish a burrito at 2 a.m. after drinking? Now we’re talking.”

What are your food-related turn-ons?
Leo: “That scene in Hot Shots when he made an egg on her stomach—gets me every time. Also, any girl that can braid a challah better than I can.”
Evan: “Pickled chilies. The morning after. On eggs.”

What is your ideal first-date spot?
Leo: “Your kitchen, because we’re making dinner together.”
Evan:Limon Rotisserie. Sharing a roast chicken and a pitcher of sangria is a great way to get to know somebody. Just avoid a table in the basement at all costs. Also, next time you see me there don’t say “Hi.” I’m on a date!”

When you want to impress your date, what do you cook them?
Leo: “I let Evan play my personal chef.”
Evan: “These days, if it isn’t Jewish food, I’m probably not cooking it.”

Do you have any foodie-groupie horror stories?
Evan: “Groupies? Does my mother count?”

chefs under 30
Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux.

Name: Ian Begg

Age: 29

Restaurant: Txoko, Naked Lunch

Single or taken?
“Taken.”

What local chefs are you digging right now?
Leo: “I recently ate at Bushi-Tei and Michael Hung is putting out some tasty food.”

Who is your all-time (non-local) chef crush? "Julia Child."

What is your ideal first-date spot?
“Dim sum is a good place to take a first date. You can learn a lot about what kind of food boundaries they may have.”

When you want to impress your date, what do you cook them?
“Something they've never had before, prepared very well, will always be memorable.”




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