Falkner mixing up some delectable Illy coffee cocktails for the judges.
What makes the S.F. food scene so special?
“San Francisco has always been an extraordinary food city because we are in such an agricultural state and we have such an interest in diverse kinds of produce and artisanal products. And it’s not just chefs who are heavily into that, the consumers are also pretty sophisticated. It’s a pioneering kind of city.”
Who is your S.F. Chef crush?
“I actually have a lot of different crushes just because chefs are kind of like my super heroes. I know how hard everybody works, so I like a lot of different people’s food. Definitely everybody here [at this challenge], and I used to work for Traci Des Jardins and I love her place, Mijita, a lot. I love Matt Accarrino at SPQR. Plus, Shelley Lindgren and everything the two of them do there and at A16. I’ve been a longtime fan of Bruce Hill from Zero Zero and Bix. And I’m a big pizza person, so I love Tony in North Beach. I just don’t know anybody more fanatic about making pizza in all of these different ovens with all these different flours. It’s just amazing.”
This challenge is all about coffee. What’s your favorite coffee shop in the city?
“There are a lot of coffee garage shops here, which is really fun and we’ve always had really interesting roasters here. Right now I like the guys at Sightglass a lot. I like the little Vega shop that serves Blue Bottle coffee. They have some really good chilled drinks. I also like the Verve coffee, which comes from Santa Cruz, at Frog Hollow cafe. And I actually use Equator coffee, which is my favorite, at Citizen Cake and Orson. They’re from San Rafael.”
What three things are always in your kitchen?
" I always have coffee. I also have butter and chocolate so I can make chocolate chip cookies whenever I’m hungry. It’s a very grounding thing for me to make cookies. I also always have some sort of tomato product because I make a lot of pasta and pizza for myself. I like to grill pizza at home late at night.”
What’s your go-to off-the-clock dining spot?
“Anybody who’s open late. What’s close to me is RN74, so I’ll go there for drinks. Not so much for food. Late night food...it’s kind of sad! Where I live in South Beach, there isn’t a ton of stuff open late. It’s challenging. I try to race over to Tony’s in North Beach. Honestly, I’m kind of always looking for that [late-night] place.”
What’s up next for you?
“I have a cookbook that’s coming out next fall. It’s called Cooking Off The Clock, and it’s all about what I like to cook when I’m not working. I’m also going to be on the next "Iron Chef" on October 30th. So that’s exciting. In a couple of weeks we’ll [launch the new menu] at Citizen Cake. It’s pending right now because we have to get the large dewar for the liquid nitrogen, which is how we’re going to make all the ice cream. But we’ve already got a lot of the savory menu changed. The design of the new menu is really cute; it’s a real throwback. The new sign will go up around the same time.”