Gayle Pirie and her partner John Clark are two highly original talents who have been deeply involved in the competitive and innovative ferment of the San Francisco restaurant scene for twenty five years. Today, Pirie and Clark are the chef talent and owners behind two very popular and exciting dining destinations in San Francisco - Foreign Cinema and Show Dogs.
A San Francisco native, Pirie grew up in the city’s Cow Hollow neighborhood. Her first foray into the restaurant world was purely as a means to put herself through college at San Francisco State University where she would later earn a degree in art history. This fused her notion that culinary arts and fine arts dovetail from how a meal is prepared to how it is presented on a plate. Her very first job was working the salad station at the former Vicolo Pizza, a popular pre- and post- theater destination located in the Civic Center neighborhood. It was here, that Pirie met her partner, John Clark, also cooking at the restaurant.
Later, Pirie and Clark were hired on at San Francisco’s legendary Zuni Café as line cooks and
were promoted to co-chefs de cuisine shortly after, earning critical approval for the purity, quality and consistency of their food. The duo then developed a restaurant consulting practice to create restaurant concepts and designs for a diverse and adventurous set of clients in the United States, Asia, and Canada. Upon returning to the states, Pirie found herself at Chez Panisse as the assistant to Alice Waters which included everything from cooking, writing, problem solving, as well as hands on general restaurant operations.
In 2001, Pirie and Clark joined forces again and took over the kitchen of Foreign Cinema where they implemented an ever changing California-Mediterranean influenced menu and full oyster bar, earning the restaurant three stars from the San Francisco Chronicle and eleven consecutive "Top 100" rankings. To Pirie, Foreign Cinema is the ultimate artistic medium. After ten years at the helm of one of the city’s most popular dining destinations, she and her partner are inspired to execute a different dining experience seven days a week. From the daily changing menu featuring seasonal ingredients to the flowers, décor, cocktails, and film, Foreign Cinema is an ever-evolving sensual dining experience.
Pirie has published two cookbooks with Clark. Inspired by their affinity for eggs and the many ways you can prepare them, they published Country Egg, City Egg in 2000 and reprinted it in 2008 by popular demand. Bride and Groom, a culinary guide and cookbook for newlyweds, was published in 2006.
In 2009, Pirie and Clark opened Show Dogs in San Francisco’s Mid-Market neighborhood providing distinct, high-quality, organic food, along with locally brewed beers and biodynamic wines for the neighborhood.
In 2010, Pirie was inducted into Les Dames d’Escoffier International. She lives in Berkeley with Clark and their two children, Magnus and Pearl. Currently the highly anticipated Foreign Cinema cookbook is in the works.