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…

Photo by Allie Foraker

This week we spoke with Gayle Pirie, chef and owner of Foreign Cinema.

What do you feel makes your restaurant unique?

Gayle Pirie: The competing “geographies” within Foreign Cinema: the main dining room, the outdoor dining patio, Modernism West gallery, the mezzanine dining room, Laszlo, the open kitchen, they are all quite different within one “agenda” of providing sensuous dining in a warm, inviting environ. This challenge inspires us to tie it all together with a caring devoted staff who understand the physical demands.

What is the most delicious thing you have ever eaten?

GP: Really? This is not answerable… A favorite winning combination is crab meat mixed with coconut milk, green chilies, then baked with butter, whole egg and breadcrumbs.

When did you know you wanted to be in the business of food?

GP: As an art student in college the bohemian life and artistic challenges cooking provided sealed the deal in 1985.

How would you describe the overall concept of your restaurant?

GP: Mission Pie is a bakery and cafe that focuses on sweet and savory pie as a way to celebrate eating seasonally, sourcing locally and ethically, while bringing those conversations down to earth by offering food and drink at everyday prices.

What do you think is the most important ingredient for good food?

GP: Clarity is the most imperative ingredient for good food. It is easy at times to muddle the very essence of the food you are attempting to finesse.Without clarity, much is lost on an over exertion of prowess, ego and inexperience. That is why it is so important to taste, taste, taste. Taste again. The virtue of good cooking lies in imbuing flavor, not masking it.

What is one thing that inspires you to come up with a new dish?

GP: My response is not very glamorous. My inspiration comes from the very result of what “is there” what needs to be utilized, etc. For example, I have five Pounds of kumquats, and fifteen pounds of Petrale sole. Hm… Let’s add minced kumquats to a delicate finishing salad on top of the fish, or lets add kumquat to our Champagne gastrique. We follow the market, the season, buy what appeals, then compose from there.

Be sure to check out how Foreign Cinema looks through a plastic lens on display until Saturday April 28th, more details here.