The Bay Area serves as a strong source of talent for Bravo’s Top Chef franchise. The region has produced two Top Chef Masters champions (Chris Cosentino of Porcellino/Boccalone and Douglas Keane of Healdsburg Bar and Grill), a winner of the short-lived Top Chef Just Desserts (Yigit Pura of Tout Sweet Patisserie) and several contestants on the original series, including four who have just opened restaurants here this summer alone.
Season 4 competitor (and current Live Well TV network host) Ryan Scott opened his first Market & Rye restaurant in 2012, and this week he’s debuted a new concept called Mason at 338 De Haro Street in San Francisco — conveniently located next to Market & Rye. Mason gives Scott a chance to stretch out into dinner service since Market & Rye is a daytime affair, and he’s offering small bites and larger plates ranging from $6-17. His American comfort food still bears his playful touches here, as in an “Oakhurst style” pepperoni pizza that comes with salted cashews and ranch dressing for dipping, and the soft serve floats made with stout beer and marshmallow.
Earlier this month, Ryan’s fellow Season 4 opponent Jen Biesty teamed up with her longtime friend and former Scala’s Bistro colleague Tim Nugent (who appeared on Season 1 of Just Desserts with Pura) to open the Mediterranean-influenced restaurant Shakewell at 3407 Lakeshore in Oakland, a dream made possible in part by a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $100,000. The menu ($5-26) features a number of paella dishes (here called “bomba”) and lots of hearty dishes, but it’s essential to save room for desserts like churros with bittersweet chocolate and blackberry tart with manchego cheese.
The Warwick Hotel in San Francisco marked its grand reopening Tuesday night, but its new bar The European and restaurant Aveline have been open since June. Both are the domain of Season 3’s Casey Thompson, who relocated here from Texas with fresh culinary ideas. Her menu ($14-36) is full of what she calls “palate resets,” including savory crab macarons, Wagyu beef with charred onions and scallop mousse and red abalone with ear mushroom, succulents, and pepperoni.
While it’s a cool coincidence that these Top Chef alums are all taking it to the next level right now, it is important to note that none of them have solely rested on their years-old reality show appearances to get to this point.