Trish Tracey Loves SF Ingredients & Late-Night Burritos
Growing up the youngest of six children with a single mom, Trish Tracey learned from an early age how to cook — and fend — for herself. By the time she got to high school, she’d mastered making quick family meals and Home Ec, paving the way for a successful career in the culinary arts. We chatted with the restaurateur about the ins and outs of running San Francisco’s Myriad Gastro Pub, the rise of more casual fine dining and her favorite place to grab a late-night burrito.
Myriad Gastro Pub Chef/Owner Trish Tracey
How does dining culture on the East Coast compare to the West Coast?
The West Coast has always been on the forefront of making things happen — there’s beautiful farm country, better weather for growing products and raising animals. There are a lot of amazing farmers and products making advancements back East as well, though. New York people who cook and are chefs would probably say the exact opposite. There’s always been a rivalry between the West Coast and the East Coast.
Are there any San Francisco-specific trends you’ve noticed?
One thing in SF that’s taken hold is getting really good food and wine and really good service, but in a more casual setting. So rather than having your “once-every-six-months restaurant,” getting a great experience in a place you can afford to eat at once or twice a month. You don’t have to feel like it’s a special occasion, you can just drop in anytime because the environment is more casual.
What does a typical day look like for you at your restaurant?
In one sense no day is ever typical, but a normal day includes balancing overseeing the kitchen with overseeing the restaurant. I run it as the chef and the owner, so I wear a couple of different hats. I arrive in the morning between 8:30-9am and check the kitchen, make sure prep is under way, that everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing, that the product we ordered came and that all systems are a go.
Throughout the day, I’ll generally check back with the kitchen, maybe prep up the specials or do some recipe testing for menu changes. Once the night crew starts rolling in, I’m checking in with them, getting them on task. Two or three times I’ll look at the reservations to see if there’s any VIPs, anybody I know or need to take special care of.
Around dinner time I’ll prepare the specials we are running and put them up for the service staff, letting them know what all the ingredients are. We usually do a little Q&A with the front of the house so that there’s continuing food and education going on. There’s a lot of information we expect them to know, so we try to provide training pretty much everyday. Then it’s bouncing back to the kitchen and depending on if I’m running the kitchen by myself that day or if I have a sous chef, I’ll work the line or I’ll run back up to do administrative work. At the end of service, we take inventory on all our fresh product and call in orders, clean up the kitchen, and maybe tackle one or two more projects depending on how late it is. I get myself setup for the next day, head out, and do it all over again. I leave somewhere between 10-11:30pm.
Any advice for aspiring restaurateurs?
You just never know what’s going to come your way. I think that one thing about this business is that you can plan — and you should plan, and you should be prepared — but you’ll also have to be able to roll with what comes your way.
How does social media affect your business?
We pay a great deal of attention to it every single day, for many hours each day. I don’t know how you could not in this day and age. It’s a driving force, whether you like it or not, so you should embrace it. I think it works against you if you don’t and it could be a great tool if you do. In the beginning, I would very often, and I still do, ask first time diners how they heard of us, more often than not the answer is Yelp. So social media is a driving force for bringing people in and bringing people back and keeping people informed. We particularly drive our own social media presence through Yelp, Twitter and Instagram.
Favorite dish at Myriad?
I would say one of my favorites is our braised pork cheeks with pappardelle pasta. It very much exemplifies what we’re doing: high quality product that we pay a lot of attention to — put love and care in creating a very sophisticated dish that also has a very homey feeling to it. You could get it at a fine dining, white tablecloth restaurant, but it’s available here at a very reasonable price.
Pork Cheeks with Pappardelle at Myriad Gastro Pub
We clean pork cheeks, marinate and braise them for three hours, and then flake them apart a little bit. The the dish itself has two different types of mushrooms, sauteed baby kale, some of the reduced braising liquid, garlic shallots and butter. And that’s all cooked down with pappardelle pasta.
Any go-to SF spots?
Sun Fat Seafood. That’s the place to get your seafood. It’s really fresh, with super nice, super helpful people. The rooftop deck at El Techo is a great place to go get a snack — the ceviche, some empanadas and a paloma. It’s an Argentinian restaurant, and the rooftop is a little more casual. They serve street food, so it’s really relaxed and chill to hang out in.
I’m in the Mission, so if it’s late night and I need a burrito, I have half a dozen of the best places to get Mexican food anywhere. Mateo’s Taqueria is new, so it’s completely different, a little more upscale ingredients like short rib and butternut squash. But then if you want to go old school late night and wait in line for your burrito — though it goes really fast because they’ve got a million people back there working — I like to go to El Farolito.