Stuart Brioza

Possibly America’s Top Chef
Cart Table Service

“In high school I had a job in a restaurant.  I used to skip classes to work there.” — Stuart Brioza

Using shichimi togarashi in cooking fusion cuisine

Shichimi Togarashi, used by Bruioza in
Prize-Winning Pork Recipe

Top Chef: Stuart Brioza is America’ best chef.  At any rate, the editors of Bon Appetit magazine think so.

Bon Appetit Award: They recently picked Brioza for their top chef award.  Husband and wife team Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski run State Bird Provisions on Fillmore Street in San Francisco, near Japan Town.[1, 2]State Bird has been a brilliant success since its recent opening.

By the way, the state bird of California is the quail. And it features on the menu — deep fried and served on a bed of vinegar braised onions.

Cart Service – Top Dining Trend – After Brioza started having his waiters wheel carts with small dishes not on the menu, in the manner of the dim sum carts in many Chinese restaurants, this has become a trend.  Diners love the surprise small dishes and the innovation is spreading to restaurants in other ciities.  Brioza’s innovation is becoming the future of American dining.

Asian Flair: The cuisine at State Bird is described as Western or California, with a strong Mediterranean element.  But as a modern California eatery, the food is without doubt Asian-influenced.

Dim Sum Tray: At State Bird they even have a dim sum tray which they use to serve the many small dishes, like duck neck dumplings.A lot of the offerings at State Bird show Asian influence.

“Stuart has an uncanny ability to synthesize elements of Asian and Mediterranean cuisines in a style that remains thoroughly American.” — R.W. Apple, Jr., New York Times

Kimchi and Yuba: An example – their Pork Belly with Kimchi and Tofu.  And there’s a noodle dish where the noodles are made using soy skin, Yuba, instead of your standard white noodles.  The Yuba Noodles, by the way, combine with Matsutake Mushrooms and Nori Seaweed.

Triple Fusion: Another of State Bird’s dishes is Braised Beef Curry, with Bok Choy and French Crepes. This blends Indian, Chinese and French influences in a single dish. [3]

Exotic Desserts: In keeping with the cross-cultural feel, State Bird also has a Japanese style Cheesecake with Goat Cheese Cream.

A Fusion Dish with Shichimi: Among the dishes Brioza created is one for Glazed Pork Ribs with Shichimi Togarashi, the Japanese spice mixture. The recipe was published by Bon Appetit magazine and is available online. [4] There is a separate post on Shichimi Togarashi on this Site with more details on that mixture.

Collecting Ramps: One of Brioza’s hobbies is riding his motorcycle to collect wild leeks or ramps when they are in season.  A native of Cupertino, Califonria, Brioza was trained at the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park, New York.  He honed his skills at Savarin and Park Avenue Cafe in Chicago.

Tapawingo Interlude: Brioza worked at the legendary Tapawingo in Ellsworth, Michigan.  Nicole Kosinski, also from the Bay area, was a pastry chef there.  The two later worked for a San Francisco restaurant and when it closed, they honed their skills for three years before opening State Bird.

National Sensation: State Bird has been a sensation since it opened drawing praise from writers at The New York Times, Conde Nast, Food and Wine and Bon Appetit.

The menu is definitely Asian influenced, including such dishes as Mushrooms in Tomato Dashi — Japanese-style stock — with Charred Eggplant, which is a kind of South Asian touch.  Watermelon with Curry is another such offering, as is the Steak Tartare appetizer served with Japanese Shishito Peppers.

From Photography to Dessert: Nicole Krasinski studied photography on the West Coast and later at the Art Institute of Chicago.  A summer side job in a Chicago bakery showed her that baking and not photography was her passion. [5]

A number of the dishes at State Bird show Nicole’s influence, such as one for Curried Pork and Squash, also with an Asian influence.

Century-Old Theater: After their first success at State Bird, Brioza and Krasinski began to rehab a crumbling century-old theater next door to their restaurant.  The theater would become home to a ramen restaurant run by Ritchie Nakano.

Best Ramen in Town: Nakano is the chefpowner of Hapa Ramen in the Ferry Building, which is said to be the best place for ramen in San Francisco.

For Further Information:

[1] “Best New Chefs,” Food and Wine, November 12, 2011.
[2] State Bird Provisions
[3] Celebrity Chef Profile of Stuart Brioza, from Chef-Opedia; contains extract from interview with R. W. Apple Jr. of New York Times
[4] “Glazed Pork Ribs with Shichimi Togarashi,” Bon Appetit, September 10, 2012
[5] Talking Dessert with Nicole Krasinski of State Bird Provisions, Inside Scoop SF, April 4, 2012
6] Ritchie Nakano
[7] Hapa Ramen


2 thoughts on “Stuart Brioza

  1. Pingback: Shichimi Togarashi | Pacific Rim Gourmet

  2. Pingback: Richie Nakano and the best ramen in San Francisco | Pacific Rim Gourmet

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