Why is San Francisco so ripe for culinary adventure? We attempt to peal the surface of this question by asking a few of the restaurants featured at our Get Hungry! gallery show currently up at Lomography SF to reveal a little more about their process, what inspires them and something you never knew…
This week we spoke with Trevor Ogden, the Executive Chef at Chambers.
What do you feel makes your restaurant unique?
Trevor Ogden: There are so many facets of Chambers that make it unique, our LP collection – 10,000 plus records from every decade to our poolside patio to our BE AMAZING sign, the fact that while we’re a food driven restaurant we also have a dj booth and dance floor and then there is the courtyard perfect on those rare warm nights for dinner and drinks, soon to be saturday and sunday brunch or even a dip in the pool . . .
What is the most delicious thing you have ever eaten?
I have two, technically three, but they are two menu items. First one is called “A spoonful of heaven” – Koo, San Francisco. There is actually two spoons and a glass of chilled sake, the first spoon is uni, ponzu, and a quail egg. The second spoon is monkfish liver wrapped in white fish and a truffle ponzu. Decadent to say the least. The second dish “Grilled Octopus Skewers” is no longer available at La Mar, San Francisco. It was poached and then grilled octopus served over purple potato mash and chimichurri.
When did you know you wanted to be in the business of food?
I had begun cooking with my father as a child so when i was 18 and living in Savannah, Georgia a line cook position kind of dropped into my lap. I took the job and starting cooking professionally. It was hard work, long hours and quite gruesome at times. I mean it was about 100 degrees outside with 100% humidity. I work there for almost two years while moving up into a kitchen supervisor position. It wasn’t hard, I mean there were only five line cooks on staff, and only two of us working the line during dinner service. so when the chef put in his notice the owner came to me and asked if I wanted to take over. I took the job soon to find out I wanted to move to a more culinary advanced city. So I packed up a car with whatever I thought I needed and headed to San Francisco. That’s when I knew I would be in this industry for the rest of my life.
How would you describe the overall concept of your restaurant?
We are an upscale yet casual restaurant and lounge serving progressive California cuisine in an eclectic setting.
What do you think is the most important ingredient for good food?
Love – as corny as it may sound, thats it. We all have access to the same ingredients, but its that passion for your creation that makes one dish stand head and shoulders above the rest
What is one thing that inspires you to come up with a new dish?
There is not just one thing that inspires me to come up with a new dish. It always depends on the dish as to where the inspiration came from. sometimes it is just a simple pleasure from a childhood memory, other times it might be something I saw at the farmers market. cravings for certain food do have a good amount to do with some of the creativity. Some dishes come about from a chain of events, one idea sparks another, then another and some how i make some sort of sense of these crazy ideas and they hit they plate. Just ask my sous chefs, some times they think I’m crazy. Also a lot of my ideas come to me in the middle of the night. I have lost many ideas from not writing these down right when I think of them, thinking I will remember in the morning, that is not the case. I tried keeping a note pad next to the bed but that didn’t work since I would then bring the notepad to work and forget it there instead of bringing it home. Now I draft an email in my phone for myself every time I have an idea, i always have that with me. It would be bad if I ever lost that thing.
Tell us something that not many people know about your restaurant.
Chambers is the original location of the famous “Miss Pearl’s Jam House” where Bay Area boy Joey Altman gained wide acclaim.
Be sure to check out Chambers through a plastic lens on display until Saturday April 28th, more details here.
Photo by Darryl Kirchner