This time of year, many Bay Area chefs have a split personality: They are behind the stove at night and nursing young plants in their garden during the day. The California style of cooking is ingredient-driven, which means that cooking starts in the garden. Take that a step further, and it’s only natural chefs would want to cultivate their own.
Dozens of chefs have carved out plots either adjacent to their restaurants or nearby so they can control what comes in to the kitchen; many other chefs have special relationships with farmers who grow special crops for them.
It makes for some fresh, exciting eating. A little dirt on the fingers seasons the pot nicely.
No other pizzeria I know grows their own tomatoes and makes their own wine. Much of the produce comes from two gardens – about a quarter acre in Berkeley as well as 13 acres of grapes and 5 to 10 acres of fruits and vegetables at Star Canyon Ranch in the Sierra Foothills. Look for the produce in the chef’s special salad or on the signature basil pesto pizza.
260 Valencia St. (near 14th Street), San Francisco; (415) 552-2050 or paulinespizza.com. Dinner Tuesday-Saturday.
From garden to plate: Restaurants with gardens by Michael Bauer