Audio stories about the people and restaurants behind the food we love.

Explore the history and significance of our world's dynamic food and restaurant culture, starting with the San Francisco Bay Area.
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The Mercer Restaurant Group team — AQ Part II
“We have this 'long view' of what Longview Ranch could be for the restaurant and for the Cloverdale community...”

In the second part of our special two-episode feature of AQ and Mercer Restaurant Group, Menu Stories heads to the farm and ranch in Cloverdale, California...

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Executive Chef Mark Liberman & Matt Semmelhack — AQ
“Seasonality is very fluid — the day that it becomes autumn on the calendar has very little to do with when tomatoes go out of season, in San Francisco especially...”

Mercer Restaurant Group is creating an ecosystem that brings the farm-to-table concept together as tightly as possible — the restaurant group also owns a farm, which is starting to provide ingredients directly to its restaurants. Matt Semmelhack and executive chef Mark Liberman, co-owners of Mercer's flagship restaurant, AQ, meet with Menu Stories to share how even one restaurant can make a big impact on our community...

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Emmy Kaplan — Emmy's Spaghetti Shack
“I like all kinds of food — very fancy places and very divey places, as well. To me, the food has to be good. And it’s not that hard. That’s the bottom line...”

High quality food is one thing that Emmy's Spaghetti Shack takes very seriously. Otherwise, patrons come to this fifteen-year-old neighborhood favorite to unwind and feel at home...

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Jay Bordeleau, Tim Hagney, & Chef Isaac Miller — Maven
“Can we take the cocktail away from the bar scene and put it into the restaurant scene? And can we make the restaurant scene a little closer to the bar...?”

Maven is one of San Francisco’s premier restaurant bars that pays equal mind to its menu and to its bar program. The team behind Maven has deep ties to music — they studied it, played it, and danced to it. Listen to the episode to find out what today's guests think music and restaurants have in common...

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Chef August Schuchman & Tyler MacNiven — West of Pecos
“My dad used to say that running a restaurant is about getting 10,000 little things right...”

Tyler MacNiven hails from Palo Alto, but developed a love for southwest cuisine on family road trips to New Mexico. It's with these memories in mind that he decided to open West of Pecos with his brothers and with his longtime colleague, Chef August Schuchman...

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Angelo Garro — Omnivore Salt
“(My grandmother said to me) ‘you just need red pepper, wild fennel, salt, and black pepper and you can cook almost anything’ and that stuck with me...”

Like many Sicilians, Angelo Garro was raised to hunt, forage, and cook for himself. He continued honing these crafts, along with his professional trade of metal work, throughout his life. In Episode 28, Garro and his right-hand woman, Veronica Ronchi, welcome us into the Renaissance Forge (or simply "the Forge"), Garro's metal shop and kitchen studio and the birthplace of Omnivore Salt...

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Chef Kyle Itani — Itani Ramen
“I started cooking Japanese food as a way to connect to Japan — but there's this whole other culture that I'm actually a part of already, the Japanese-American culture, and that has its own set of food...”

For Episode 27, we return to Oakland to meet chef/owner Kyle Itani of the brand-new Itani Ramen, which sits across from the historic Fox Theater. Itani is as easy going as the atmosphere at Itani Ramen, which also captures the carefree essence of ramen...

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John Zirinsky, Ben Buchanan, Jimmy Simpson, & chef Max Snyder — Old Bus Tavern
“Getting to work with friends is awesome — we're having a good time and also learning a lot...”

From inside the shell of an old Mexican-Salvadoran restaurant, Old Bus Tavern is bringing something new to Bernal Heights. The restaurant and microbrewery has a complex makeup: one part casual fine dining, brought to you by chef Max Snyder, one part cocktail program, one part sunny and 70s throwback vibe (complete with old Volkswagen bus memorabilia), and one part microbrewery...

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Executive Chef David Lawrence, Black Bark BBQ
“In life, you have to find something you're passionate about — if you find that, you'll enjoy what you do... you're going to enjoy your life...”

To celebrate 25 episodes of Menu Stories, we are releasing a special two-part series featuring sister restaurants 1300 on Fillmore and Black Bark BBQ. Episode 25 features executive chef David Lawrence of Black Bark BBQ and 1300 on Fillmore...

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Chef Jake Whitlock, 1300 Fillmore
“Having a meal is one of the most intimate things you can do — they came here to eat food we prepared and I just love that concept...”

To celebrate 25 episodes of Menu Stories, we are releasing a special two-part series featuring sister restaurants 1300 on Fillmore and Black Bark BBQ. Episode 24 features chef Jake Whitlock of 1300 on Fillmore...

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Chef Justin Simoneaux, Boxing Room
“Any point you're down on yourself, just look up and see a dining room full of people smiling and laughing and know you’re a part of that and making someone’s night special...”

“Whenever you talk about Louisiana, you brighten up... would you be interested in cooking that kind of food?” Executive Chef Justin Simoneaux's passion for his native New Orleans cuisine and this observation from Absinthe Group owner Bill Russell-Shapiro allowed Boxing Room to be what it is today...

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Dario Barbone & Renato Sardo, Baia Pasta
“Food is being removed from culture... people are not really connected with a specific relationship with food: eating at the table, cooking for other people, visiting your local farmer’s market...”

It's hard to find a better recipe for the makers of organic pasta than two Italians with a background in slow food and molecular biology. Dario Barbone and Renato Sardo, both from the Piemonte region of Italy, may well be on their way to reconnecting Americans with our farmer’s markets and the seasonal fruits, vegetables, and proteins grown by our neighboring farms. All we need now is a bowl of organic pasta to complement it all...

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Umberto Gibin & chef Staffan Terje, Volta, Perbacco, & Barbacco
“Our job is to make people happy and that's an incredible challenge because there's no recipe for happiness...”

The chef is often the driving force behind a restaurant, running everything from the concept to the menu. Perbacco, Barbacco, and now Volta are run a little differently. Owners Umberto Gibin and chef Staffan Terje have created a true partnership, palpable from the moment you walk in...

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Anjan & Emily Mitra, Dosa
“Being in the restaurant business ties you to the community — people say ‘this is my restaurant, this is the restaurant that I go to’... It's not your restaurant anymore. It's their restaurant...”

It was at an underground club in San Francisco's industrial SOMA neighborhood that Anjan and Emily Mitra first laid eyes on each other. It's no surprise that Dosa, their modern South Indian restaurant, evokes this nightlife feel as soon as you walk in the door...

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Chef Shawn Naputi, Prubechu
“Why we use achiote, why we use turmeric, how did these spices get to Guam? That's the picture we look at here — we go back in time and put it together. We have to. Otherwise it would be lost cooking...”

Shawn Naputi and Shawn Camacho, who both grew up in Guam, opened Prubechu to create much more than just a restaurant. With Prubechu being the only place in San Francisco serving Guamanian food, they've aspired to create a home for city dwellers who are part of this close-knit island community...

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Chef Trish Tracey, Myriad Gastro Pub
“I have always wanted to open a restaurant where people felt like they just came to my house and had a great meal — and it was okay to spill and okay to get loud...”

It may seem like an impossible feat to represent the world's flavors in one menu, but that was chef Trish Tracey's vision for Myriad from the beginning. In fact, the name represents the rainbow of flavors within which Tracey has free license to work...

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Chefs Jonathan Sutton & Tony Ferrari, Hillside Supper Club
“To be able to create this system for other people to thrive from and give other people opportunity is incredible...”

Having been just a few years out of culinary school, Jonathan Sutton and Tony Ferrari, chef/owners of Hillside Supper Club in Bernal Heights, hadn't planned on opening a restaurant by the age of twenty-five. But most things don't happen the way we expect...

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Executive Chef Gilbert Pilgram & Head Chef Rebecca Boice, Zuni Café
“The place just humming, looking like Judy described it: because of the shape of the restaurant, it looks like a slice of a cake... at night, when it's all lit up, it looks like you're having a party inside a cake...”

Our food should not be anonymous. That's what Zuni Café owner and executive chef Gilbert Pilgram learned from his grandmother in Mexico City, long ago, and it's a message that was echoed by the chef who propelled Zuni Café into the excellent restaurant it remains today: Judy Rodgers...

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Chef Melissa Perfit, Bar Crudo
“I was most interested in cinematography — I like the way light hits things... I realized cinematography translated to the plating of food and the way it looks...”

There is no shortage of seafood — or seafood lovers — in San Francisco, but Bar Crudo has been a favorite stopping place for many. The restaurant is now proudly celebrating ten years and we were lucky enough to meet with Chef Melissa Perfit...

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David Hanna, Tadich Grill
“He said, well, everything's good, but I have one little complaint — I come here for the great seafood and the surly waiters and you're too nice...”

New York has Peter Luger; San Francisco has Tadich Grill. Like the sharp and salty taste of briny oysters, there's something raw, familiar, and comfortable about the straight-shooting experience of dining at Tadich Grill...

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