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

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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.

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!

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.]

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?


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Maria Morais Sarmento

Monday 16th of March 2015

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


Sunday 15th of March 2015

this food looks delicious


Thursday 12th of March 2015

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.


Wednesday 11th of March 2015

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


Wednesday 11th of March 2015

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.