Chef Jeffrey Saad entertained at an energy-filled demonstration.

Once again, SF Chefs brought us to gastronomic heaven. Judging by the turnouts at the grand tastings, and in the various seminars, the annual event which concluded on Sunday in Union Square is as popular as ever.

And for good reason.

If you ever wanted to sample some of California’s finest culinary fare, you could do worse than indulge in one delectable dish after another at what has become a marquee foodie exposition (I’d also rank the spectacular Pebble Beach Food & Wine, the intimate Montalvo Food & Wine Classic, and the new, wine-soaked Flavor! Napa Valley high on that list).

Yours truly. Whistle while you work.

What I particularly liked about this year’s edition of SF Chefs was the balance across the various dishes. It’s almost as if all the chefs had orchestrated the line-up so that each dish would do its utmost to complement.

You could enjoy delectable duck rillettes (Grand Cafe), followed by an artfully served “early girl” tomato Bloody Mary (Spruce), and then refresh your palate with a most interesting heirloom tomato and watermelon salad (Barbacco) and a sinful gelato treat (Pizzera Delfina), before revving up again for some outstandingly tender Wagyu beef short ribs (Lark Creek Steak) and ever fresh King Salmon with Gravenstein apple (Poggio). No question: A world-class symphony of flavor.

But because it seems competition is the order of the day on the Food Network, and one’s thoughts must form a semblance of some sort of top 10 list…

I wracked my brain, reviewed my notes, and salivated more as I perused the photos from the event, and finally after much deliberation arrived at this top 10 list.

Stark Insider Top 10 Dishes of SF Chefs

10. Copita Tequileria Y Comida

Chef Joanne Weir

Copita Tequileria Y Comida – a comfortable favorite.

9. Nettie’s Crab Shack – Crab Slider

Nettie’s crab slider was tender, scrumptious.

8. Poggio – King Salmon with Gravenstein Apple, Watermelon Relish

Chef Peter McNee

Poggio’s King Salmon was perfectly balanced.

7. Burger Bar

Burger Bar – these little guys exploded with flavor.

6. AQ Restaurant & Bar – Peaches  with Sweet Woodruff Burrata Ham and Almonds

Chef Mark Liberman


5. Kara’s Cupcakes

Cute and Delicious (without being overly-sweet).

4. The Ahwahnee – Bourbon Braised Pork Belly

Chef Robert Anderson

The Ahwahnee’s Pork Belly – worth a repeat visit!

3. Per Diem – Ricotta Egg Yolk Ravioli, Fried Prosciutto Dust, Chive Tomato Jam, Pork Jus

Chef Adam Hinojosa

Per Diem – it called to me… “Loni…….”

2. Maverick – Local Burrata Cheese, Fig lead ashed rind, golden beet and Zanta grape relish

Chef Emmanuel Eng

Worked. Very. Well.

1. Lark Creek Steak – Red Wine Braised Wagyu Beef Short Ribs over Fresh Corn Polenta with Rainbow Chard Pickles

Chef Ismael Macias

Melt in your mouth. Lark Creek Steak – Winner of the Stark Insider SF Chefs 2012 best dish!

So there you have it. It was a tough call choosing the top 10. This was a strong field. In fact, this may be the best showing yet for SF Chefs. See you next year. Bon appetit!

Loni Stark is an artist at Atelier Stark, self-professed foodie, and adventure travel seeker who has a lifelong passion for technology’s impact on business and creativity. She collaborates with Clinton Stark on video projects for Atelier Stark Films. It’s been said her laugh can be heard from San Jose all the way up to the Golden Gate Bridge. She makes no claims to super powers, although sushi is definitely her Kryptonite.