SF's Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski are household names for American gourmets, thanks to the smashing success of State Bird Provisions. Now, as they gear up to open SBP's sequel, The Progress, the dynamic duo have gotten the full profile treatment in the Chron. You may know their fried quail, peanut muscovado milk, and burrata-topped garlic bread, but how well do you know the couple behind the scenes? Herein, five fun facts about Brioza and Krasinski, pulled from the article.
1. They met as teenagers. Krasinski was 18 and Brioza was 20 when they met as art students at De Anza College. His head was shaved; she was dying her hair black at the time. Brioza's mom is a flight attendant, and he wooed Krasinski with free standby flights to check out museums and galleries in New York.
2. There was almost a State Bird in New York. Legendary restaurateur Drew Nieporent (Nobu, Batard) was familiar with Brioza's talents from his days at Nieporent's now-shuttered Rubicon. He offered the couple the opportunity to expand the restaurant to the Big Apple, but they turned him down in favor of opening The Progress. (Also hilarious: Nieporent thought the State Bird concept was too crazy to work. ""When he told me about the cart service and what they were calling the place, I told him, 'Stuart, do yourself a favor, put your food on plates and change the name.'")
3. Brioza is CIA-trained, but Krasinski learned on the job. While Brioza worked his way up at restaurants in Chicago, Krasinski rose from a job as baguette and croissant maker at local bakery Red Hen to the manager of its kitchen, growing it into a $4 million business in just three years. Her nickname: Skinny, because, as founder Nancy Carey says, "she weighed 100 pounds soaking wet."
4. They hate not working together. Some couples need space in their working lives, but Brioza and Krasinski prefer each other's company. When the couple first moved to San Francisco, Krasinski briefly consulted for another chef. "I was like a jealous boyfriend," said Brioza of her time away. "We're so awesome together, I didn't want her to be someone else's pastry chef."
5. The Progress was actually their original idea; State Bird was just a bonus. They acquired the two spaces simultaneously, but knowing that The Progress would require a massive buildout, decided to open State Bird first. The family-style menu at The Progress was actually their initial inspiration for a solo venture, after a six-week trip through Latin America where they ate communally. But despite plans in the works since 2008 and an opening scheduled for sometime this month, they still haven't finalized the menu. Which may not be a problem—State Bird also opened without a finalized menu plan.