Last night, four of San Francisco's biggest "celeb chefs" donned headsets and reclined on white leather couches to speak at a sold-out UNIQLO-sponsored food panel. Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Food (and UNIQLO's newest model), was joined by Chad Robertson of Tartine, Brandon Jew of Bar Agricole, and Jason Fox of Commonwealth. After hearing what the chefs had to say about street food, Scandinavia, their favorite places to eat right now, and more, a line of hungry, impatient stargazers continued to snake around the front of the pop-up shop all night long, waiting to taste several unusual and delicious things. The best quotes, highlights and bites from the night follow. · In the bites category: Bowien made rice porridge with roe and sea urchin, sea-smoked eel and bbq pork lettuce wraps, tiger Xi'an veggetable salad wrapped in seaweed, melon with pickled chiles, and peanut buckwheat noodles. Robertson's bread was served with Jew's pork pâté apple-fennel sauerkraut and pickled mustard seeds; and of course, there was Tartine bread.
The best quotes from Jason Fox:
· On why all the chefs on the panel are friends: "We just geek out about different ancient grains."
· On organic food: "I think we live in a bubble. We serve organic food because we're appealing to a certain clientele."
· On food trucks: "I'll try to be nice...A lot of it seems to be branded first and product second...When you just graduated with your marketing degree and you have your 'wama bama mama dip' you want to sell, then I'm not sure how I feel about it."
The best quotes from Danny Bowien:
· On cooking for a good cause: "In the beginning, I just wanted to be the best chef I could, but you can be successful in in other ways besides having the sharpest knife in the kitchen."
· On perks of being friends with these guys: "I'm so lucky...Sometimes I don't have to wait in line at Tartine."
The best quotes from Chad Robertson
· On bringing chefs from Scandinavia to San Francisco: "They can't believe how close everyone [in our chef community] is."
The best quotes from Brandon Jew
· On becoming a chef: "It gave me an appreciation on mother nature and natural growth."
· On fish: "Today I can tell you the name of the captain and name of the boat where my fish came from. You couldn't do that three years ago"
· On street food and food trucks: "There are a lot of people that shouldn't be serving food?I know their trucks are dirty."
· At the conclusion of the event, Bowien asked the other three chefs about their favorite places to eat right now. Each chef's response follows:
Fox: Lers Ros Thai and Aziza
Jew: "On my days off, sometimes I like to eat something that's an assault on my palate, like Lers Ros." Also: Berkeley's Ippuku and Outerlands.
· Robertson: Izakaya Yuzuki, and Restaurant Relæ in Copenhagen, which, he said, is "not Scandinavian...[but] post-regional."