Years ago, when I was set to do an interview with the one and only Anthony Bourdain in San Francisco, his publicist asked me to pick a restaurant for us to talk over lunch.
Can you imagine the pressure of trying to come up with a place to satisfy the exacting taste buds of the finicky “No Reservations” star, who makes no bones about what he likes and doesn’t?
I settled upon Piperade in San Francisco because I had a feeling its soulful Basque food served in unpretentious surroundings would please even the most jaded palate.
I was right.
In one of the most fun interviews I’ve had the pleasure of conducting, I remember Bourdain and I digging into tender beef cheeks as he lobbed barbs and insightful opinions in answer to my questions. The sweetest moment came at the end of the meal, when a server shyly approached the table with a battered copy of Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential” for an autograph. She explained that his book was the only thing that kept her sane when she waited tables in New York. Bourdain, chuckling at her knowing remark, signed the book to her, adding his trademark doodle of a chef’s knife.
Piperade may be a decade old now. It may not be flashy. It may not be the “It” place to be these days. But it continues to be relevant, as well as the type of place you know you can drop into for a meal that will always content.
Chef-Owner Gerald Hirigoyen hails from Basque country, which straddles both France and Spain. He’s a rarity among chefs, too, in that he’s trained in both cooking and pastry making.