NANCY OAKES


Chef Nancy Oakes is San Francisco’s most beloved Chef, and with good reason. It’s not often that a Chef can convey her art so clearly to both her customers and peers, but Nancy holds a level of culinary excellence, and awareness of her customer’s deepest yearnings for great food that few Chefs have attained. She is the Executive Chef and co-owner of Boulevard, http://www.boulevardrestaurant.com/ a synthesis of her talents and philosophies which opened in 1993. Here, guests are soothed by a menu of comforting foods, fresh ingredients, personalized service and a general sense of artful décor and presentation.

A self-taught chef, Chef Oakes gleaned lessons from teachers such as Girard Boyer, Taillevent and Guy Savoy, under whom she served informally, and travels such as a trip to Italy where she learned the simple beauty of Italian cooking with Faith Willinger. Chef Oakes takes great pleasure in delivering a sensuous dining experience that lives up to San Francisco’s love of great food prepared with exquisitely fresh ingredients.

The peacock mosaic that covers Boulevard’s floor might well symbolize Chef Oakes’ love of flavor and creativity. The restaurant is housed in a vintage building that is one of the few survivors of the city’s famed 1906 earthquake. Inside, meals feel like they are personally prepared for you—because they are. Chickens are freshly cooked over the fire in a wood-burning oven, and baked treats are cooked in small batches that seem home-baked. “There are no shortcuts,” she says. Her quest for the finest ingredients is truly refreshing. “We choose diver scallops rather than dredged, and fruits and vegetables straight from the farm or the farmer's market.”

The result is a restaurant that is a San Francisco legend. Honored by area publications and readers’ pools, Boulevard has also won critical acclaim including being named the favorite restaurant in San Francisco by the Zagat guide for six years running. Chef Oakes’ many awards include the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award, for “Best Chef in California” in 2001; and nominee for both the 2002 and 2004 “Outstanding Service Award” by the Foundation.

Prior to Boulevard, Chef Oakes opened L'Avenue, an acclaimed 50-seat San Francisco neighborhood bistro which gained a loyal following, much like that at Boulevard. Prior to L’Avenue, she created the popular waterfront restaurant Barnacle, and worked at elegant eateries such as Alexis on Nob Hill during her studies at the San Francisco Art Institute.

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