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Meet Four of the South Bay's Hottest Chefs

Carolyn Jung, Anh-Minh Le & Laura Ness | July 3, 2018 | Food & Drink Story Eat and Drink

Read more from the Feast Issue here.


After working as a sous-chef under Thomas Keller at The French Laundry for six years and staging at Ferran Adrià’s legendary elBulli, Secviar set out to build an homage to his mentors that would also serve to help train the next generation of chefs and sommeliers. He and fellow French Laundry alum, master sommelier Dennis Kelly have done so masterfully with Protégé. With a relaxed a la carte lounge plus a more formal tasting menu-only dining room, Secviar has the best of both worlds to showcase finessed dishes that take influence from Europe, Japan and America. His hush puppies revved up with ham hock and dusted with gold; pillowy ricotta dumplings; and a pithivier filled with tender short rib have quickly emerged as signatures.
260 California Ave., Palo Alto

She is the Bacchus Management Group’s first corporate executive pastry chef, heading up a total of nine restaurants and bakeries (including Woodside’s The Village Pub and The Village Bakery, as well as Palo Alto’s Mayfield Bakery & Cafe). If anyone is up to that formidable challenge, it’s O’Leary, who had the gumption to graduate from the French Culinary Institute’s pastry program in her midteens before going on to work at New York’s venerable Del Posto and Per Se. Her trademark desserts are balanced by the use of seasonal ingredients and a restrained hand with the sugar. Doughnuts are her passion, ever since she held pop-ups at famed Franklin’s Barbecue in Austin, selling a whopping 1,300 at a time. Who can argue with that?
Multiple locations

The James Beard Award-winning cookbook author whose Serious Eats’ "The Food Lab" column is followed by legions has consulted on restaurants before. But Wursthall is the first one in which he’s taken such a pivotal role. It’s especially fitting that he decided to become a partner in the restaurant that’s located in his adopted hometown of San Mateo. López-Alt designed not only the kitchen layout and back-of-house operating systems, but also the menu and recipes for updated biergarten favorites such as a vegetarian doner kebab and an Instagram-sensation chicken schnitzel. "The food is German-influenced," says López-Alt, adding, "People who know my style know that I like to take dishes that are well-known and optimize the elements that people like most about them."
310 Baldwin Ave., San Mateo

With his hand in not one, not two, but three establishments mere steps from one other, Armellino may be well on his way to becoming the Thomas Keller of Saratoga. In fact, he jokes that he needs to get a new pair of running shoes, as he races between his downtown spots. There’s the flagship Michelin-starred Plumed Horse, of course. Late last year, that was joined by the Plumed Horse Chocolaterie by former Plumed Horse server Angelica Duarte, and this year by Pasta Armellino, the casual eatery specializing in handmade pastas. For this longtime fine dining chef, getting down and dirty with flour and water to craft supple spinach bucatini and toothsome orecchiette has proved a perfect fit. "It's just another expression of who I am," says Armellino.
14560 Big Basin Way, Saratoga

Originally published in the July issue of Silicon Valley

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