You can't get much bigger than being chef/ owner of an Esquire "Best New Restaurant," which Gordon Drysdale was in 2000 when he ran Gordon's House of Fine Eats in San Francisco. But he might surpass that mark in his current role as chef/partner at Pizza Antica, a four-unit Bay Area casual dining operation that features California-inspired Italian food, most particularly an ethereal thin-crust pizza. The 50-year-old chef had a string of high-profile culinary successes at San Francisco's Bix, Buckeye Roadhouse and Caffe Museo. He and his wife Susie live in Mill Valley, CA.
Whoa. Your fridge is maxed out!
We need all this. We have two growing sons, ages six and eight.
They must really put it away.
Both boys eat what they have to eat to get what they want to eat.
How did that work?
Its a tradeoff. They have to finish the healthful items we give them before they can have any treats.
Who oversees the trading off?
Susie. She's a stay-at-home mom, an incredible luxury.
Do you work the line at one of the Antica units on the other nights?
Being on the line is a young man's sport. But even as I move away from being a working chef, I still enjoy the action of a packed restaurant. That's at night.
What's your typical day now?
A lot of my work life is spent in a car, doing business by cell phone.
And your home life?
I live the daddy lifestyle now. That's why my fridge is full of family food, instead of having just beer, wine and condiments like single chefs have.
So you've got a normal schedule?
Except for the late hours, yes. I have the weekend off.
Your fellow chefs envy that.
I liked it better when I had a working chef's schedule: Sundays and Mondays off.
With that setup, you can be out with your family and the rest of the world on Sunday. But on Monday, the whole world is yours.
On weekends, every place I go has a million people in line.
But it's better for your family.
True. We had our first son just before opening House of Fine Eats. We had great years there, but I missed most of his learning to walk and talk.
That's the life of a chef.
It is, but I had an epiphany that there was more to life than just the kitchen. House of Fine Eats reflected how I lived life then. Pizza Antica is who I am now.
I've turned into an adult. Pizza Antica is a place where you can sip a good wine and eat a fine meal while your little kid throws food on the floor . . . and nobody cares.
It's going well?
I was the last partner on board. We just opened our fourth, in Sacramento. We think we can grow to 12 units.
That mandolin tells us you're still jamming in the all-chef Back Burner Blues Band.
Absolutely. We've been together six years.
How'd you get started?
It was four chefs—Keith Luce, Joey Altman, Scott Warner and myself. Our first event was a Meals on Wheels fundraiser.
We still get some interesting gigs. It's a creative way to participate in fundraisers beyond just cooking.
Count us in for your next show.
Foster Farms Corn Dogs
Organic Ice Cream Bars
Frozen Organic Vegetables
1 doz. Fine Chocolate Bars
Gravenstein Apple Juice
Jo's Natural Peppermint Bark
Organic Orange Juice