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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Chef Fernay McPherson — Minnie Bell's
“When people eat my food, I always want them to feel like they're at the kitchen table...”

In our long-awaited 51st episode, we hear the story of Minnie Bell's Soul Movement, a food business that has long been simmering for chef/owner Fernay McPherson. Chef McPherson grew up in San Francisco’s Fillmore District—a historically vibrant African American neighborhood—and longs to bring her food back there someday. The area has struggled to maintain its roots, as rent and cost of living prices have skyrocketed. Listen to the episode to hear McPherson share how determination took her from working as a San Francisco Muni bus driver to participating in La Cocina's food business program, which helped McPherson pursue her dream of being a chef...

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Executive Chef Suzette Gresham — Acquerello
“It is my mission to find a way to help people see the beauty and survive the rest so they, too, can create on that level...”

Over the course of nearly thirty years, Acquerello has grown from being one of San Francisco's favorite romantic dining spots to a renowned two-Michelin-starred destination. With such an impressive resume for the restaurant and with the level of elegance that greets you at the door, you might expect to see the stereotypical stuffy, arrogant chef in the kitchen, yelling at the staff while throwing around plates and expletives...

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Chefs Panel with Yelp — Surviving & Thriving As Bay Area Restaurateurs
“Cooks are leaving in droves because they can't afford to live here...”

For episode 49, we’re featuring a live recording, straight from Yelp HQ, where a panel of esteemed chefs and restaurateurs tell us what it’s like to tough it out in the Bay Area...

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Executive Chef Matthew Dolan — Twenty Five Lusk
“We need to know where our fish is coming from and how it's caught and how it's treated...”

Episode forty-eight of the Menu Stories Podcast features Executive Chef and Partner of Twenty Five Lusk, Matthew Dolan. The expansive, upscale restaurant-lounge in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood occupies a brick warehouse building that was built in 1917. Once a meat packing facility, it serves as a reminder of the grittier and more industrial past of this part of the city...

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Chef/Owner Jordan Keao & Chef de Cuisine Chris Yang — ‘āina
“We need more ethnically driven restaurants... when are we going to see more cultures being represented properly?”

In the forty-seventh episode of Menu Stories, we meet chef/owner Jordan Keao and chef de cuisine Chris Yang of ‘āina, a refined Hawaiian enclave in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood.

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Evan Bloom & chef Eduardo Hernández — Wise Sons
“Jewish deli food — it's really the food of the Jews of the East Coast, it's food of immigrants coming from different parts of Europe, making a mish-mosh and coming up with something all its own — so, actually, Jewish deli food is American food...”

Like most overnight successes, Wise Sons had been in the making for many years. Co-founders Leo Beckerman, Evan Bloom, and Ari Bloom took their Hillel college cookouts to a pop-up, after they graduated, and the enterprise has since blossomed into five locations across the Bay Area...

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Chef Sung Anh — Mosu
“It's always remembering and re-applying the discipline, as a chef, and molding myself to become a good chef. I'm [not] a disciplined guy now just because I went to the army. I'm always rechecking myself...”

Chef Anh has a prestigious culinary background, which includes names like The French Laundry, Benu, and Aziza, so it’s hard to imagine that Anh once had a grittier life — as a troubled teen, he made a decision to set himself on the right path and joined the army, where he was exposed to a sense of discipline that has helped him rise to the success he has found as a chef...

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Chef Jöne Pan — Jöne's Gelato
“At the end of the day, everyone deserves to feel the community around a table, eating food — having alternatives that taste good makes them not feel so isolated...”

In this episode, we meet chef Jöne Pan of Jöne's Gelato, a gourmet Paleo and diabetic friendly gelato — it’s gluten free, cane-sugar-free, dairy free, and top-eight-allergen free. Despite this unusual formula for a traditional dessert, Jöne’s Gelato has developed a strong following of customers who love her product, even if they aren’t particularly worried about avoiding dairy or sugar...

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Chef Adam Rosenblum & Alvin Garcia — Popson's Burgers
“Popson's comes from father and son — for us, it means a lot because we're both family-driven...”

In episode 43 of the Menu Stories series, we meet the fun-loving duo behind Popson’s Burgers, the popular fast casual burger spot in San Francisco’s Tenderloin. Popson’s owners, Alvin Garcia and chef Adam Rosenblum, first worked together when they opened Causwells, which quickly became nationally renowned for its burger...

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Michael & Jacky Recchiuti — Recchiuti Confections
“There's something very communal about opening up a big box of chocolates...”

Episode 42 of Menu Stories is our last of the year! Since we are just days away from Christmas and Hanukkah at the release of this story, we’re naturally focusing on chocolate. Michael and Jacky Recchiuti, who hail from West Philadelphia and Hawaii, respectively, met in San Francisco in the '80s and have now been making chocolates together for over 20 years. The result is local favorite Recchiuti Confections...

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Larry Mindel & Executive Chef Benjamin Balesteri — Poggio
“At the end of the day, restaurants are my drug of choice...”

On the 41st episode of Menu Stories, we meet Larry Mindel and Executive Chef Benjamin Balesteri of Poggio in Sausalito, California. Mindel is a long-time restaurateur who thought he was retired from the restaurant business after he brought the popular Italian chain, Il Fornaio, to great success...

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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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