San Francisco is known as a place for serious “foodies.” Since the Gold Rush we have had the richness of a mix of many cultures, making food traditions from all over the world available to us.
The early 1960s brought attention to a mixture of food styles, from the elegance of French cuisine (from Julia Child and the Kennedy White House) to menus for backyard barbecues in suburbia.
In the mid-1960s, some food that mom used to prepare from scratch started showing up ready-made in grocery stores. Here’s a commercial for a dairy-free topping that was introduced in 1965:
By 1970, a San Francisco Art Institute student named Mollie Katzen was working at a restaurant on Polk Street called Shandygaff. This trendy restaurant served fresh and in-season fruits and vegetables from local farms. Coming from the East Coast, Katzen had never seen the abundance of fresh produce that was available here. The menus changed depending on what was available and the whim of the cooks, including her. She started writing notes about how the food was prepared. She took those notes back to central New York State and started the Moosewood Restaurant in 1973.
Now Mollie Katzen is a beloved expert on vegetarian cooking, has five million cookbooks in print, and lives in Berkeley. Here she is talking about starting her career:
And as I write this, an iconic San Francisco restaurant has announced it is closing at the end of June 2014. Here is a video tour and description from the star chef: