Maître Cuisinier de France – 2015
Growing up in the Basque region of France surrounded by a vibrant cooking culture, Chef Gerald Hirigoyen’s interest in the kitchen started at an early age. At the age of thirteen, he started his apprenticeship in his hometown of Biarritz; Chef Hirigoyen later moved to Paris to refine his skills at Patisserie Millet, before coming to San Francisco over 30 years ago. He worked at several restaurants – Le Castel, Le Vaudeville, Lafayette, and Le Saint Tropez – and began cultivating what would become his signature: incorporating fresh ingredients into simple yet scrumptious dishes that echo the local spirit as well as that of his homeland. Chef Hirigoyen and a partner opened their modern French bistro – Fringale – in 1991, which made him “an instant star” according to Michael Bauer’s review in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Cameron Hirigoyen, a native Californian, was also raised appreciating food and the passion that goes into it. After graduating with a liberal arts degree from Stanford, she moved to the Bay Area to help with her family’s business and foster her photography, just as Fringale was opening nearby on 4th Street. They met over Chef Hirigoyen’s tuna burger and crème brulée. Cameron slowly began to devote her time and talent to their ventures, which includes a family of three sons. Soon she became his right hand and they’ve grown their businesses together since.
Chef Hirigoyen and his partner opened Pastis in 1996 before renovating the space to create Piperade with Cameron in 2002 to move in a different direction, “West Coast Basque Cuisine.”
The Hirigoyens’ restaurants and Chef Gerald Hirigoyen’s accomplishments have been featured in such renowned national food journals as Gourmet, Bon Appetit, and The New York Times. He was named one of “Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs in America” in 1994 as well as San Francisco Magazine’s “Chef of the Year” in 1995 and a second time in 2003. Chef Hirigoyen and his family are especially proud of his nomination by his peers for the James Beard Award: “Best Chef, California” in 2006. His appointment by the French government as a Chevalier du Mérite Agricole award in 2011 and his election by his peers as Maître Cuisinier de France in 2015 are also very dear to him. Chef Hirigoyen and the restaurants have appeared in television programs on The Food Network, ABC, CBS, PBS, and NBC.
Chef Hirigoyen has also published three cookbooks: “Bistro” (Sunset Books ©1995), “The Basque Kitchen” (Harper-Collins ©1999), and his newest “Pintxos” (Ten Speed Press ©2009), which features recipes for the increasingly popular tapas or small plates.
Honors & Awards
- Chevalier du Mérite Agricole – French government – 201
- Nominee “Best Chef, California” – James Beard – 2006
- Chef of the Year – San Francisco Magazine – 2003
- Chef of the Year – San Francisco Magazine – 1995
- Best New Chef in America – Food & Wine Magazine – 1994