There is no better week for a San Francisco food lover than the week of SF Chefs. There is such amazing talent in the Bay Area and it has been on full display.

I have been fortunate enough to get a chance to experience SF Chefs firsthand, attending classes, dinners, demos and tastings. Here’s a brief recap of the first half of the week.

A Celebration of Contemporary Mexican Restaurants: Hosted by Traci Des Jardins at Mijita in the Ferry Building, some of the best chefs at well-known Bay Area Mexican restaurants provided guests with an unbelievable variety of regional dishes. Espolón Tequila cocktails were also part of the festivities. The uniqueness and simple complexity of the dishes was truly amazing.

Dish from Traci Des Jardins

Cocktail from Nopalito

Service is More Than a Smile: This panel really intrigued me as I think service is above all else in terms of truly judging a dining experience. Stuart Brioza (State Bird Provisions), Scott Chilcutt (Fifth Floor), Lorella Degan (La Ciccia), Pete Sittnick (Epic Roasthouse/Waterbar) and Liz Subauste (flour + water/Central Kitchen) were all on the panel, offering a diverse group of restaurants and varying levels of experience in the restaurant industry. The relationship between FOH/BOH, eye contact and a smile, the newfound importance of bartenders and servers reading what guests want all were part of the lively discussion. An interesting behind the scenes look from the eyes of those in the industry.

Panel on Restaurant Service

49 Square Miles: The San Francisco Chronicle has had a running series exploring the 49 square miles of San Francisco through different restaurants. And it came to life on the Imperial Floor (32nd floor) of the Westin St. Francis. Restaurants and food purveyors each offered a tasty bite. And to celebrate San Francisco, organizers asked pastry chefs from around town to make a cake that best represents the city (the winner was Gary Rulli of Ristobar). From dim sum (Yank Sing) to meatballs (Gialina Pizzeria) to sweets (Yvonne’s Southern Sweets), it was a true representation of the diverse food culture that best exemplifies San Francisco.

Meatballs from Gialina Pizzeria

Friday Night Grand Tasting: To describe the grand tasting as extravagant is an understatement. There are a total of four tastings the week of SF Chefs . Each day or night offers a group of different chefs offering an amazing dish and creation that exemplifies the food served at their restaurant. Cocktails and wine are plentiful. It really provides guests a chance to get to talk to their favorite chefs on a one-on-one basis, which may not be a possibility when they dine at a restaurant. It is an amazing opportunity and one not-to-be-missed if headed to SF Chefs.

Dish from Chris Cosentino

Burrata, Tomato from A16

More coming in the second recap early next week.