Many chefs consider themselves artists, and rightfully so. However, very few of the chefs on this list can actually say they hold a degree in art, but Michael Tusk is the exception. After graduating from Tulane University with a degree in Art History, Michael took his appreciation for the classics to a venue where it could be best-appreciated by all: the kitchen.
With a long of list of achievements under his belt, it’s no surprise that Michael has secured a place on this list. As the winner of the “Best Chef: Pacific” award by the James Beard Foundation in 2011, Michael has put his talents to great use with his San Francisco restaurant, Quince.
Quince has received two Michelin stars and four stars from the San Francisco Chronicle, and has long been considered one of the best dining destinations in San Francisco since its opening in 2003. And right next door is his more recent endeavor, Cotogna, which opened in 2010 to great acclaim and stellar reviews.
Michael’s willingness to inject new styles and flavors into traditional dishes ensure that his creations will never get old, and his desire for authenticity extends even to where he purchases his cooking equipment (Dino Bartolini in Florence, in case you were wondering).
Specialties & Resources
Few chefs can embrace such entirely different styles of cooking as rustic Italian and French cuisine with as much aplomb and success as Michael. Michael worked in Michelin-starred restaurants throughout France and Italy after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, and the impact those experiences had on his cooking style can still be felt in his creations today.
Michael has described his culinary philosophy as “local, spontaneous, fresh, healthy, and inspired,” and his commitment to locally-sourced food has allowed him to inject some regional flair into his dishes.
At Quince, you’ll find well-prepared offerings such as the liberty duck with fresh run farm beet, broccoli and allium, Tsar Nicoulai reserve caviar with avocado, coriander and fromage blanc, and tortelli with corn, nasturtium, and fresh run farm fava bean. Meanwhile, Cotogna draws heavily from the culinary style of Italy’s Barbaresco region, offering dishes such as taglierini with Dungeness crab, rainbow chard tortelloni, Tai snapper with summer squash and tomatoes, and Wolfe Ranch quail with leeks and canterelle mushrooms.
Michael’s wholehearted embrace of the rustic European style of cooking and his genuine love for dishes that belie a simpler way of life shine through in his creations, and as his patrons can attest, the end result is a dining experience that is at once traditional and forward-looking.