Each time we have an opening, it is such a joy to watch our guests come together in celebration of an artist’s new collection. The crowd is always different and it is so rewarding to observe the conversations and connections that are made. The Atelier becomes a salon and the principal idea behind why we expanded our design studio – to be an incubator of art and design – comes alive in a new way. Earlier this month, we were delighted to open our doors to unveil our latest collaboration.
The San Francisco Culinary Set is our newest brainchild with Juniper Books. We collaborated with Juniper on the concept – to combine innovative, local cookbooks into a beautiful set that can sit not only on your kitchen shelf, but also in your living room or library. Local photographer Michele Bell jumped at the idea of capturing a view of the city to adorn the book jackets. The set showcases five Bay Area culinary destinations and their authors, all founders and chefs of each restaurant.
We were thrilled to have Juniper Books founder Thatcher Wine, join us from Colorado as well as chefs Gonzalo Gonzales Guzman of Nopalito, and Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski of State Bird Provisions to speak of their craft, the inception of the set, and how their backgrounds led them on their journey.
Winemakers Nate and Lauren Belden poured vintages from Belden Barns in Sonoma. And of course, hors d’oeuvres were served, courtesy of the chefs! Nopalito contributed Tostadas de Tinga Poblana; mini homemade tostadas topped with refried pinto beans, chipotle stewed chicken, queso fresco crema and fresh epazote. State Bird Provisions offered their spiced pork ciccioli with buttermilk-cacao nib crackers alongside pickled vegetables and plum jam.
Aside from the delicious snacks, the highlight of the evening was the Q&A session with the guest chefs moderated by Thatcher.
Gonzalo Gonzales Guzman was raised in his mother’s kitchen, sans refrigerator or electricity, in Veracruz, Mexico. He immigrated to San Francisco with his father at the age of 14 and recalls living with his father and six others in their first apartment. At 15, he began his first job as a dishwasher. Eventually rising through the ranks, by the age of 25, he helped to open Nopa, which has since become a San Francisco staple. Finally in 2009, together with partners Laurence and Allyson Jossel and Jeff Hanak, Nopalito – meaning “little cactus” – was opened on Broderick Street. Since then, another location has graced the Inner Sunset on 9th Avenue. As he spoke, one could tell his milestones were elevated wholly by his hard work and dedication to his craft.
The capstone of the Nopalito cookbook lent itself to the preservation and nod to his home. His recipes are best represented by a few lines in his book:
“…what I do in my kitchens here is an attempt to remember and honor the way things were back then – the food our days revolved around, and the simple life we led and loved.”
State Bird Provisions was started as a way to serve quail, but as Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski intended, there are no boundaries to their establishment. The couple met in college as art students. Brioza trained and rose through several restaurants in Chicago, while Krasinski was in charge of baguettes and croissants at Red Hen Bakery and later a successful manager.
In 2011, the chefs opened State Bird Provisions which thrives on its small plate style and ever-changing cuisine. Their menu is highlighted by the keystone quail dish, the California State Bird with Provisions – breaded quail with sweet onions and shaved parmesan – which is a mainstay on the menu. But the menu changes on a daily basis and includes an assortment of provisions. Dishes rove around on carts, dim sum-style and there are “commandables” served a la carte, meant for sharing amongst the table.
Also on the menu are their various pancakes, which have earned an entire section in their cookbook. Brioza and Krasinski knew the techniques used in their commercial kitchens were hard to reproduce in residential kitchens. They lament on their effort to reproduce these techniques and explain the process thoroughly for anyone to successfully make, for example, peanut muscovado milk. The titles of their dishes are lengthy, warranting a deep breath after uttering it aloud, but excel in describing the extent of exploration these chefs have for each and every ingredient.
Thatcher Wine has his beginnings in restaurants, his parents the proprietors of The Quilted Giraffe in New York, now inoperative. He worked several roles at the establishment growing up, so he knows his way around what it takes to have a business like his partners in the collection. After spending a few years in the tech industry, he resolved that life was too short, unpredictable and precious. Upon his move to Colorado, he kickstarted Juniper Books.
Juniper has become a bit of a sensation at Anyon. Much by virtue of being one of few brick and mortar stores that carry an assortment of Juniper sets, they never fail to impress passersby. Indeed, each set welcomes you to break the age-old moniker to never judge a book by its cover. The designs are supremely clever and impeccable conversation starters. Form and function is key in Thatcher’s work, as the sets he curates and binds create an image across the jackets when displayed together, and an audience cannot help but pick up and flip through a book’s pages.
Much like Anyon’s structure, in addition to selling his book sets to the public, Thatcher acts as a library consultant, finding first editions and special collections, and designing both residential and commercial libraries and bookshelves. He is a talented designer, his work ameliorated by an antiquarian’s approach, a librarian’s knowledge and an artist’s touch. He considers everything from shelf dimensions, the color palette of the room, the client’s interests, other accessories to complement the books, and the “grabability” of a book. After all, it is a piece of art that, on the contrary, says, “Please Do Not Touch!"