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 Gowan Family — Gowan Orchards
“Cider is a new chapter for an old family book...”

This year marks the 140th anniversary of the Gowan family business: an apple orchard featuring rare California native apples in the tiny town of Philo, California, where the population hovers around 350. Through droughts, wars, economic depressions, a rush for gold, and fast-evolving technology, it seems Northern California has always had an appetite for apples...

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Executive Chef Bruce Hill — Zero Zero
“I was so drawn to San Francisco — I knew there were great possibilities here...”

In episode 39, we meet executive chef Bruce Hill of Zero Zero in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood. Chef Bruce has had a storied career in the San Francisco Bay Area and is also behind a number of other popular restaurants, including Bix and Picco...

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Dr. Andrew Weil — True Food Kitchen
“I hope the people who eat here will be inspired to make some of these dishes at home and take some of the basic principles away...”

"I grew up in a row house in Philadelphia," Dr. Weil tells us, before he begins to reveal the inspiration behind the health-and-flavor-conscious restaurant chain, True Food Kitchen, which he founded with partner Sam Fox. Dr. Andrew Weil is known around the world for his work in preventive health, nutrition, and alternative plant-based medicine and has long been interested in the role food plays in our health outcomes. In addition to publishing several books on the topic, his deep-seated interest in plants and botany began as a child...

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Chef Kris Toliao & Yuka Ioroi — Cassava
“Kris always wanted to have approachable food that's cooked with care... and done with technique...”

Episode 37 introduces us to the husband-and-wife team behind Cassava, a small Asian-inspired restaurant in San Francisco's Richmond District that puts community and a unique operational style at the forefront...

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Chris Dunstan, Head Brewer — Drake's Brewing Company
“I started home brewing [in college] — it was a time when I was learning to cook a lot and I took it as an extension of cooking...”

In Episode 36, we meet Drake's Brewing Company Head Brewer Chris Dunstan, who shares the story behind the first commercial craft brewery that’s ever appeared on Menu Stories. The history of craft beer is a relatively new one...

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Eat Drink SF — 2016
“It's exactly what the title says — you eat, you drink, and it's in San Francisco. It doesn't get any better than that...”

Each year, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association hosts the summer food party of the year: Eat Drink SF. We got a chance to enjoy the festival and chat with some of the guests we've had on Menu Stories so far...

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Chef Wilson Chan — Tsubasa
“I didn't walk away [from a career in animation] because at Tsubasa, I combine arts and sushi...”

Chef Wilson (he prefers his first name) comes from humble beginnings in Hong Kong and only learned the art of sushi making through necessity, after his family immigrated to San Francisco. He moved to Los Angeles as an adult in the hopes of becoming an animation artist, but had a hard time breaking into the industry. In the meantime, he continued working as a sushi chef under stern experts, and realized he could apply his visual art and animation training to the craft of sushi, with all of its colors and textures...

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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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