[All photos except slide one, by Marc Fiorito]
The year's fourth annual celebration of SF Chefs is in the books, as restaurant types all over the Bay Area are recovering from three days of intense showmanship and networking. The grand tasting tent in Union Square saw four enormous tasting events, and there was a late night something or other every night. Adding to the excitement, everyone's favorite anonymous food critic Michael Bauer was spotted in the wild at several events with his partner Michael Murphy, surveying the scene. (Side note for restaurant owners: Compared to last year's sighting, pay attention to the new hair style he's sporting.) This year also saw more demos, and panels than ever before, both in the tent and all over Union Square. Take a look at the gallery above and our top hangover observations from the past few days and nights below.
· The Friday night late night party saw 300 industry types arrive en masse, filling the newly revamped E & O Asian Kitchen from basement to mezzanine. As is the tradition now, DJ chef Hubert Keller got the crowd going, and who knew Dave Arnold has such killer dance moves?
· Everyone was mumbling about the interview with Michael Bauer on Saturday at 3:30 p.m., wherein he sat behind a screen on stage while New York restaurant industry impresario Drew Nieporent drilled him. Since no question was off limits, Nieporent—who famously owned Rubicon— broached the awkward moment when Bauer changed the Chronicle's restaurant review format to multiple visits and required fact checking back in 1986.
· Highlights from the tasting tent on Sunday included a ceviche with uni from La Mar's stall, pork belly with shaved melon from Bon Appetit Management Co., and Martin Yan's pulled noodles with pork.
· The Saturday night "Late Night Cocktail Adventure" was the San Francisco bartenders' chance to shine and show-off their skills at the Clift Hotel.
· At the What is Northern California Cuisine panel, Joyce Goldstein talked about how Stars was an innovator in its time as one of the first places to have an open kitchen and a seasonal menu, adding that "SF is the best place on the planet to cook." Dominique Crenn later remarked that she wouldn't say it's better than anywhere else in the entire world.
· Former Golden Gate Restaurant Association executive director and SF Chefs co-founder Kevin Westlye said some of the hottest selling tickets were for all three rounds of the Eater SF Chefs challenge. The battles on Friday and Saturday were both won by a tight margin of two points or less, with Fifth Floor's David Bazirgan and One Market's Mark Dommen (a.k.a. "team pretty") taking the title on Sunday. Food Gal has some nice shots of the chefs and dishes throughout the contest and a blow-by-blow.
· Marcus Samuelsson drew a lot of star chef power to the illy tasting tent on Saturday including Christopher Cosentino and Tyler Florence, who stopped for an adorable moment with Cecilia Chiang.