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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Local Mission Eatery's Jake and Shauna Des Voignes: The SFoodie Interview, Part 1

Posted By on Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 4:43 PM

click to enlarge Jake and Shauna Des Voignes with Knead Patisserie's morning setup in front of Local Mission Eatery. - CHRIS MACARTHUR/SF WEEKLY
  • Chris MacArthur/SF Weekly
  • Jake and Shauna Des Voignes with Knead Patisserie's morning setup in front of Local Mission Eatery.
It's 10:30 on a weekday morning, at a spot along the traditionally Spanish-speaking heart of 24th Street in the Mission. As she does every morning, Shauna Des Voignes has set up a table in the doorway of Local Mission Eatery, home, too, to Knead Patisserie, where Des Voignes, 26, is pastry chef. She's smiling and pretty, her blonde hair pulled back in a pony tail, presiding over a spread of finely hewn breakfast pastries, plush-looking tea breads, even beef short-rib turnovers. A man, late 50s, wiry, asks in accented English how much a sandwich costs. There are no sandwiches on the Knead table, but des Voignes explains that the restaurant opens at 11; the guy can get a sandwich then.

"How much?" he asks.

"Nine dollars ― at 11," Des Voignes says.

He appears to misunderstand. "Eleven dollars?" he asks, grinning wide, as if Des Voignes were, well: crazy. "Hoooo-eeee!" he says in a crackly falsetto before shaking his head, still grinning, and moving on down the block.

Just another day on the new 24th Street.

click to enlarge Des Voignes came up in the fine-dining equivalent of the farm system. - CHRIS MACARTHUR/SF WEEKLY
  • Chris MacArthur/SF Weekly
  • Des Voignes came up in the fine-dining equivalent of the farm system.
Along with Local Mission Eatery that houses it, Knead Patisserie opened in March. Shauna's husband, Jake, is the cofounder of Local Mission (with Yaron Milgrom). He's executive chef, too, which, at a quick glance around the casual restaurant, might seem funny. Daytimes, Local Mission's focus is the sandwich, but Jake, 30, was brought up in the fine-dining equivalent of the farm system. Now, he's overseeing a place that doesn't fit easily into the traditional restaurant mold. Part counter-service sandwich joint, cookbook lending library, prix-fixe eatery, and class venue, Local Mission Eatery is quietly exemplifying the chameleon nature of the modern food venture. How did the Des Voignes get here? Jake's training was about as conventional as it gets.

Moved by White Heat, the chef's memoir by the ferocious genius Marco Pierre White, Des Voignes steeped himself in French technique at Miró near Santa Barbara. He landed a spot at Tom Colicchio's Craft in New York City, then landed another on the opposite coast with Melissa Perello at San Francisco's Fifth Floor. He later took over the kitchen there, snagging a Michelin star before leaving to heading up the kitchen at Fish and Farm.

It was at Fifth Floor that Jake met Shauna, originally an extern in the pastry department, till pastry chef Leena Hung hired her. Shauna left to work at Quince, briefly, before landing a spot with Deanie Fox (now Hickox) at Ubuntu in 2007. She left in 2009 to help open the pastry department at RN74. Eight months later, she was opening Knead.

Jake and Shauna sat down with us recently to talk about the state of dining in San Francisco, how they feel about the notion of gentrification on 24th Street, and the generational shift among S.F. diners that's made a place like Local Mission possible in the first place. And check out Jonathan Kauffman's May review of Local Mission Eatery.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Contact me at John.Birdsall@SFWeekly.com

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