Self-taught, Tampa-born chef, David Barzelay, channels his passion and skill for the culinary craft into unconventional dinner parties. What initially started as intimate gastronomic gatherings at an underground venue, grew into one of San Francisco’s favorite dining experiences, and became a permanent installment as Lazy Bear, the now 2 Michelin-starred establishment helmed by David.

Barzelay, a former lawyer, dabbled in the kitchen during his spare time whilst studying – and this is where the chef in him was awoken. Realising his love for food, the kitchen became has space of solace during law school, and he started embracing gastronomy with his arms wide open: from hosting dinner parties for his friends to eating the finest fare at restaurants, reading the most advanced of cookbooks to experimenting with molecular gastronomy, the chef was set on learning new techniques and immersing himself in the world of food – so much so that he even started his own food blog.

After graduating from law school, the chef went on to work in the corporate world as an intellectual property litigator, but in 2009, the financial crisis left Barzelay jobless with a long severance package. Set on starting afresh, Barzelay took a deep dive into the culinary industry. Following a series of stages in the city’s top restaurants, he launched what quickly spiraled into the highest-rated, least-known underground restaurant in the Bay Area. It wasn’t long before the chef’s talent was recognised and his dinner parties boomed: serving upwards of 40 people per night, several nights each week, the chef has to create a ticketed lottery system just to meet the demand.

Five years later, after seeing the success of the underground operation, Barzelay opened a permanent space to offer guests an enhanced fine-dining experience while still maintaining the unorthodox aspects of Lazy Bear’s original iteration. In an open kitchen in the heart of San Francisco, David uses his avant-garde techniques and gadgets to whip up the most tasty modern American dishes, served to a backdrop of camping photos, national park memorabilia and 1970s rock and roll pictures. Even more endearing is that each dinner at Barzelay comes with a gift of a Boy-Scout inspired notebook.

Barzelay must have found his true calling in the culinary industry as along with a host of awards, David was named among Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs whilst Lazy Bear has been listed as one of Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurants, San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 Restaurants, and a James Beard Awards semifinalist for Best New Restaurant.

Awards
Lazy Bear:

  • 2019, 2018 and 2017 Two Michelin Stars
  • 2018 Eater The 38 Essential San Francisco Restaurants
  • 2018, 2017, 2016, & 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants
  • 2016 Food & Wine Best New Chef
  • 2016 Michelin Star
  • 2016 Nation’s Restaurant News Menu Masters Innovator of the Year
  • 2015 Bon Appétit Best New Restaurants list
  • 2015 Semi-finalist for James Beard Best New Restaurant Award
True Laurel:

  • 2018 Wine & Spirits Magazine’s SF 50
  • 2018 Eater 18 Best New Restaurants in America
  • 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants
  • 2018 San Francisco Magazine The Bay Area’s 10 Best New Restaurants (So Far) of 2018
  • 2018 Eater The 38 Essential San Francisco Restaurants
  • 2018 AFAR Magazine Best Bars in California
  • Eater’s SF 2018 Bar of the Year
FOUR Questions with David

Describe your culinary philosophy in FOUR words:

Wild, nostalgic, naturalist, dinner party (5 words, apologies).

What is your greatest inspiration?

The two greatest inspirations behind Lazy Bear’s cuisine are the wild, and nostalgia. We strive for nearly every dish on the menu to exude a sense of naturalism, glorifying the spirit and products of the wild Bay Area, as well as calling back to intrinsically delicious flavors from our shared American dining experiences and from the things we ate growing up.

If you could take a plane ride to any restaurant in the world, just for one meal, where would you go? 

Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

What FOUR items would you take to a desert island?

Headphones and a device with the Audible app (I’m an audiobook fiend), soap/sanitizer (I’m a germaphobe), a good cast iron pan, and a lifetime supply of green olives (the pimento-stuffed Spanish kind).

Lazy Bear
3416 19th St
San Francisco
California 94110

 

Tel: (415) 874-9921
True Laurel
753 Alabama St
San Francisco
California 94110

 

Tel: (415) 341-0020

 

Images © Kassie Borreson