| | | |

An Interview with Cotogna Chef Michael Tusk – Taste of the Nation San Francisco

Taste of the Nation SF

There is no shortage of of food festivals in San Francisco, one of the many reasons why I love this city! Of course its always a bonus when you can combine good food and celebrity chefs with eating for a cause. Or four, in the case of this year's Taste of the Nation San Francisco event…four!

This year's event is taking place on Thursday, March 26 at the City View in The Metreon. Along with 100 of the city’s most influential food and drink peeps, by attending you'll help raising funds for 18 Reasons, Children of Shelters, California Food Policy Advocates, and California Association of Food Banks — an opportunity to help as many kids as possible from a diverse range of LOCAL hunger programs – that's right, the money is staying right here in the Bay Area.

Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). Opinions are always my own and I’ll never promote something I don’t use or believe in. Also as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

And while I will be away in Boston for the Women in Travel Summit, and unable to attend, I did want to share the festival details with you (including a discount code at the bottom) and introduce you to the event's chair, Chef Michael Tusk of Cotogna. I had the opportunity to interview chef Tusk about Taste of the Nation SF, something I would never pass up!

San Francisco Profiles – San Francisco’s Western Addition/Japantown with Paroma

Michael Tusk, executive chef of Quince and Cotogna restaurants, is a San Francisco legend landing here in 1988 and never looking back with early stints at some of the greats, like Chez Panisse, among many others. He is known for Italian and French regional cuisine with a modern approach and was rewarded with a James Beard award for Best Chef Pacific in 2011.

Let's hear more from Chef Tusk….

Chef Michael Tusk

Tell me a little about the Taste of the Nation SF event and why your participate.

I truly believe TOTN SF is the premier tasting event in San Francisco. It is an opportunity for fellow chefs, restaurateurs, winemakers, beer makers and mixologists alike to come together to support such an important cause. With nearly 1000 guests, a DJ and sweeping views of the city, it's quite a party as well!

And why is supporting No Kids Hungry initiate important to you?

We, as chefs, are so fortunate to have access here in the Bay Area to some of the best, most beautiful and nourishing produce on the planet; this allows us to further pay it forward and help serve and nourish those most deserving with the funds raised from the event.

Besides your restaurant, what are some of your favorite spots to eat at in SF?

House of Prime Rib [a spot I mentioned as a legend here] , Bar Agricole [another favorite of mine], Kin Khao. [See how his tastes have changed yet some guilty pleasures remain the same in this interview that chef Tusk did for Condé Nast Traveler.]

House of Prime Rib
Photo credit: Jun Seita

For coffee in SF?

Sightglass. [See how much this coffee is ingrained in chef Tusk's routine in this great post from Seed, Bark & Root.]

J'adore #22 - Blogher Edition

For after-hours drinks and eats in SF?

Tosca. [Great Italian fare of course! Here is a solid review from Serious Eats.]

chef Tusk making pasta
Photo credit: Fine Cooking

Favorite meal to cook at home?

Roast Chicken. [Read why this is his go to meal for impressing guest in this quickie interview from 7×7.]

Panna Cooking
Photo credit Panna Cooking

Your favorite comfort food?

Dim Sum. [Well, you know how I feel about San Francisco dimsum, here is my guide!]

What is your favorite city to travel/eat?

Kyoto. [Chef Tusk just went to Japan along with several other San Francisco chefs, there were lots of great Instagram photos!

Delicious #crab at Ifuki in #Kyoto

A photo posted by Chef Michael Tusk (@michaeltusk) on

For someone visiting San Francisco the first time and dining at Cotogna, what should they not be remiss in ordering?

Try the raviolo or agnolotti or for a larger appetite, the Bistecca alla Fiorentina.

Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Thanks Chef Tusk!

Cotogna is located in San Francisco's Financial District and one of AFAR Magazine Davina Baum's favorite lunch spots. See more great places to eat, sip, see and do in FiDi in my San Francisco Profile on this area.

Now that you have learned a little more about Taste of the Nation San Francisco and have met the event chair, what more can I say to convince you to attend?

Have you been to Taste of the Nation anywhere in the U.S. In San Francisco?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. My little sister lives in San Francisco now. I’ll have to tell her about this. This is totally something she’d be interested in. Thanks for sharing this interview!

  2. Food looks so tasty
    Rosie x

  3. What a fun post – I really enjoyed the interview. I can tell he is very talented! 🙂

  4. I love hearing chefs talk–as someone who’s cooking challenged, it’s fun to hear from someone who’s figured out what I haven’t! 🙂 I love that he’s involved in giving back to the community, too!

  5. All dishes look for tempting. I wish I could visit the place once.

  6. These dishes look so yummy. I really want to go to one of these Tasting events. I am also a big supporter of No Kids Hungry. There is absolutely no reason any child or adult should go hungry in America. Having the support of big events and well known chefs is great for the No Kids Hungry organization.

  7. Chubskulit Rose says:

    I wish it is that near, I would surely attend! We went to San Francisco last year and wish I could have read this interview. IT would have helped us find the interesting places to eat. The Bistecca Alla Feorentina sounds like a fine dining place!

  8. Oh my goodness, all of that food looks amazing! It def doesn’t surprise me that this is in SF, they had such amazing restaurants and chefs when we went. I’ll be heading back there in April, super excited just to eat, eat, eat!

  9. Amy @ Will Run For Ice Cream says:

    I have never been to San Francisco, but I would love to visit some day. This was a great interview and interesting read. If definitely looks like SF doesn’t have a shortage of food places to eat! I would love to taste some of these amazing recipes.

  10. I wish I could attend! I understand your own disappointment at not being able to go. There are so many good eateries out there, and having an event that supports charity is really a plus. If someone gets to go, I hope they can come back and tell us all how it went!

  11. Local Adventurer says:

    i’ve been wanting to dine at chez panisse. i wish i was going to WIT. i think maybe next year. 🙂 i’m actually super shy and awful at networking.. so i wanted to go to a conference that’s for both guys and gals.. but maybe i’ll just make jacob tag along.

  12. Katie @ Domestiphobia says:

    This looks amazing. Too bad you’ll be at WITS with ME! And Esther you should totally come — there’s no rule that says you can’t bring Jacob!

  13. Tammilee Tips says:

    San Francisco would be an amazing city to attend food festivals in!! All of Chef Michael’s food looks amazing! I love when we travel and finding new places in a city to eat at and try new foods!

  14. Winter White says:

    I love eating for a good cause 🙂 Wish this event was in my hood !

  15. brook devis says:

    unfortunatly i dnt live in san francesco but i have many friends there. i think they would love to know about this. i wish i could attend 🙁

  16. It’s nice to know that so many brilliant and talented people can come together for hungry children. I hope they raise lots of money for such a worthy cause! It was also interesting to read about Chef Tusk. He sounds very talented, yet also humble enough to promote other restaurants and cuisines. Sounds like a great city for food!

  17. Can we please talk about how delicious all of that food looks?! YUM!

  18. All these dishes look really delicious! I’m sadden Everytime I think about kids going hungry, itbreaks my heart.

  19. rochkirstin says:

    It’s really a wonderful world of food for chefs. Seeing and creating different beautiful and tasty food items can be a challenge though. As much as it sounds exciting, the tasting event can be stressful. They make it for a good cause so that’s something worthwhile. I wonder how he makes his version of roast chicken.

  20. This festival sounds great!! I love how it helps the hungry at the same time. Too bad you are missing it!

  21. I have visited California so many times in years past and several city there. However I have never been to San Francisco and now that I read of all these food festivals I’m wondering WHY?! I am a fan of food! I need to visit San Fran on my next visit to the west coast.

  22. this food looks delicious

  23. Maria Morais Sarmento says:

    Everything looks delicious! Love knowing about chefs from all over the world 🙂

  24. Nora Tenorio says:

    I will immediately snatch your rss as I can not find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please permit me recognise in order that I may just subscribe. Thanks.