Q: Where are you from?
A: I'm originally from the East Bay but ended up in NYC for 11 years. I just moved back to San Francisco last spring.
Q: How did you get into restaurants?
A: I had a corporate job in NYC for 9 years, bartended on the side, and somewhere along the way realized I loved my side job more than my regular job. I fell in love with the pace, the variety, being around people, managing things, customer interaction, etc etc. The restaurant I was working for was in the process of opening a new space and they approached me- I left my corporate job to open and become the manager for the new spot in Queens, NY. I was there for 2 years, stayed until it was up and running and decided it was time to return back to California. I wanted to settle down somewhere that I wanted to be forever.
Q: How long have I been here?
A: Just had my one year anniversary earlier this month.
Q: What's been your biggest challenge?
A: Well it’s the biggest restaurant ive ever worked in so challenge is just learning to manage all the pieces and keep everything in place. In smaller restaurants where you’re the only one in charge, you have more hats/roles but you’re always there and always in the know. Bigger restaurants are like a machine, you need to know how all the parts work but trust in others to work their own parts when you’re not there and constantly be analyzing how the parts are working and how we can be more efficient
Q: What's your best Waterbar memory?
A: I had the privilege of planning the company party in September, our first big picnic and I had only been here a few months. Seeing it all come together, seeing how much fun everyone had being outside and enjoying each others’s company away from work was a really great experience here.
And here is my loaded question to LeeAnn; leading to the story that is, the Michael Bauer Challenge......
Q: What have you been up to lately?
So here is the ( Michael Bauer Challenge) ….. So when I moved here last spring, it was a whole new city…my dad, a native San Franciscan and overall really awesome guy, came in to see me for dinner during my first week of work here at Waterbar. He brought the 2014 Michael Bauer SF Chronicle top 100 list to show me. He knew I loved trying new restaurants, loved to explore, needed to learn the neighborhoods, and this was a little guidance. The list came out May 10th, 2014 and my first restaurant was A16 on May 11th 2014. And in 365 days, I ended up going to all 100. My last restaurant was Manresa on may 10th 2015.
In the beginning it started as a list of restaurants that someone (Michael bauer) thought were the best in the bay area and seemed perfect for someone that worked in the industry, who loved exploring and was new to the city… what a great way to try new places! When I started to talk about it to people, more friends and colleagues wanted to join me on the nights out, many of whom have lived here for years and heard of the restaurants, but never been. Towards the end of the summer is when I realized I was doing 8-10 a month and maybe if I was crazy enough, I should keep going and try to do all 100 in a year. Its totally nuts: not easy to do financially (about a dozen were $150+ pre-fixe menus, 5-18 course), physically (they are geographically all over the place- more than 20 were in Napa/Sonoma/Healdsburg- and some of these are big meals, hard to eat out 3-4 times a week, some weeks were 5 nights a week) or just mentally (trying to work it into a schedule where you already work 50-60 hours a week). But fast forward a little, this was one of the best adventures of my life. And in the end, it really less to do with Michael Bauer and everything to do with how dining out is an experience. The list was the inspiration for the journey, but it became an experience to be shared with friends and family, on a date or a big group of friends… whether it’s a Tuesday or Saturday, 12:30 lunch or 10pm dinner. Dining is a journey. It’s a culinary and social adventure. I learned a lot about the restaurant scene, met quite a few people in the industry, got myself to almost every neighborhood in the City and feel much more like a local than most people who have lived here a lifetime. After each restaurant, I compared it to my own job and my own staff and the food we serve and the people we work with, and in some ways, I learned a lot and could take a little piece of every place back to my own every day life, and in other ways, it made me realize how much I love my job, the industry I work in, and being a part of that experience for someone else every time they come into Waterbar. As I wrote in my final social media post after the last restaurant…. This was a journey of love, adventure, food, drink, friendship, an exploration of this new city I now call home and my personal growing passion for the restaurant industry. I have made a career in this industry and it is truly a part of who I am.