San Francisco Treat

Chef Sean McTiernan of Mason Pacific

By Kimberley Lovato

We all know that Tony Bennett crooned about his love of San Francisco, but chef Sean McTiernan‘s stage is the kitchen at Mason Pacific, an elegant Nob Hill bistro that opened in May, where his love of his home city seasons an impressive resumé built in the Michelin-star kitchens of Paris.

“My time in Paris immersed me in classical training and French techniques — an experience that gave me tools to be creative and definitely informs how I approach my cooking.”

Following graduation from the Culinary Institute of America, McTiernan dazzled palates at San Francisco’s beloved Delfina and Rose Pistola before dashing off to Paris. He spent four years in such kitchens as Tailevent, Le Bellecour, and La Table de Robuchon (now closed), where he was classically trained.  Drawing inspiration from each chef’s interpretation of traditional cuisine and techniques, he learned to transform simple ingredients into delectable dishes. Upon returning from Paris, McTiernan managed the kitchen at Eos at Viceroy in Miami in 2010—the year it was named a James Beard Award semi-finalist for “Best New Restaurant.”

But, the City by the Bay beckoned him home. Lucky for us.

“San Francisco is my favorite city to live, work, and eat.  I was eager to return to the abundance of fresh seasonal produce and a community that values eating, restaurants, and culinary pursuits in general.  Additionally, as a fourth generation San Franciscan, I was happy to return to be close to family.”

The Foodie Five

1. What is your favorite food memory from childhood?

Picking crab with my grandpa in San Francisco.

2.  You’re moving to a new kitchen in 5 minutes and can only take one gadget along with you. What do you grab and why?

My porcini bread starter because no one has one.

3.  No one’s looking. What is your secret food fetish? 

Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

4.  Fill in the blanks:   “I’d like to see more __________________ on restaurant menus and a lot less________________.”

I’d like to see more sustainability and a lot less tuna.

5.  Congratulations, you have carte blanche to dine in anywhere in the world! Where would you go and why?

L’Arpège in Paris – just for the cheese cart.


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Kimberley Lovato is a Lowell Thomas Award winning writer whose travel and food articles have appeared in national and international magazines. She prefers to discover the city, and the world, one bite or sip at a time. Read more Foodie 5 posts on her blog and