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🔪 MEET THE CHEF: John Hart of The Garden Court and Pied Piper at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California

🔪 MEET THE CHEF: John Hart of The Garden Court and Pied Piper at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California

Tripveel sat down with Executive Chef John Hart of The Garden Court and Pied Piper at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California.

Executive Chef John Hart of The Palace Hotel, San Francisco

Executive Chef John Hart of The Palace Hotel, San Francisco

Where did you grow up and where have you traveled to that has helped inspire and shape your cooking philosophy? 

I spent most of my young life in Southern California. The smells, tastes and memories or home always inspire me. The briny aroma of the ocean in San Diego, memories of fishing off of sun set cliffs after work and eating giant barbecued clams in Encinitas. The Mexican flavors also influenced my desire to bring people joy through sharing delicious food. I still smile every time I eat fresh guacamole and pico de gallo because it always takes me home.

The Garden Court at The Palace Hotel, San Francisco

The Garden Court at The Palace Hotel, San Francisco

Through my travels I’ve enjoyed California cuisine in San Diego’s Hillcrest District. 80% of our menu changes daily and featured dishes like Fresh Pine Nut and Spinach Rotollo with Crimson Raisins, Basil Early Girl Tomato Ragu and Carnitas Tortilla Pizzas. In Beverly Hills I was inspired by Petrossian Beluga Caviar, McCarthy Salads (a table slide Cobb) and all the Foie Gras or Steak Tartare I could possibly enjoy. When visiting Berlin, Germany, it was a culinary history lesson. To this day, Bratwurst & Braised Red Cabbage remains one of my favorite dishes.

The Palace Hotel, San Francisco

The Palace Hotel, San Francisco

Tell our readers an interesting fact or two about yourself. 

I’m a hardcore rocker at heart! I love Pasadena’s very own Van Halen and I am also a huge ZZ Top fan. I love all music and especially enjoy going to live concerts. Over the years, I have been able to curate a small guitar collection that includes a 1977 Les Paul Deluxe Guitar.

Tell us about your absolute favorite food and why readers should try it if they haven’t already. 

I can’t just pick one, so I will give you a few ultimate varieties.

  • The Pied Piper Wagyu Burger with Truffle Fries is at the top of the list. It’s something I crave. It’s a well prepared quality burger with layers of flavor that make it one of the best in San Francisco. With the juicy beef, local Fiscalini Smoked Cheddar, a Baker of Paris Brioche and some of our homemade bread ‘n’ butter pickles—it’s just delicious.

  • Dim Sum from Yang Sing in San Francisco. The quality is outstanding—it’s just so good.

  • I’m crazy for Fried Plantains, Garlic Black Beans and Chicken Mojo from Cuban Café Versailles in Los Angeles. The combination of sweet and savory with a punch of roasted garlic is life changing.

  • I also love Persian cuisine, Lavosh in San Francisco serves Grilled Ground Beef Koobideh, cooked over hot coals, with charred onions and Roma tomatoes. The method of cooking and the Persian spices create flavors that are unforgettable. The dish is addictive!

The Palace Hotel, San Francisco

The Palace Hotel, San Francisco

What are three ingredients that you simply couldn’t live without? 

Crispy garlic, passion fruit and smoked paprika.

We love the art behind plating. What do you love about designing the perfect dish? 

One of my loves is freehand drawing and illustration. I have always drawn on every piece of paper I could find, letting the creative juices flow while being inspired by everything around me. I take the same approach with food. The plate or vessel becomes my canvas. I add color and texture with amazing ingredients of the season, spices, salts, sauces, fresh herbs—until it looks like art to me. Going through that process allows me to see something new all the time and the rewards are amazing. There is nothing like bringing a beautiful plate of delicious food to a guest and watching their delight.

Tell us about one of the most creative dishes you’ve created?

It was really challenging to come up with a decadent vegetarian pot pie for the new Pied Piper menu. I am really proud to have created our Impossible Meat Guiness Pot Pie that is nutritious and delicious. It’s loaded with rutabaga, garnet yams, carrots, celery, Cipollini onions, fresh herbs and a splash of Guinness.

The Palace Hotel, San Francisco

The Palace Hotel, San Francisco

Share your most recent awards and accreditations with us! 

Earlier in my career, I was much more competitive and award-focused. I am proud to have won the gold medal on the California Culinary team at a competition in Berlin, Germany. Today, my big wins come from sharing my experience with the next generation of chefs and watching them grow into culinary superstars.

What are some of the latest trends you’re seeing in top restaurants across the globe?

Healthy trends continue. I am excited about Blue Zone diets that are primarily plant based and focused on longevity and healthy recipes. This is great for our overall health and for the earth.

The Palace Hotel, San Francisco

The Palace Hotel, San Francisco

What’s your favorite cocktail or liquor?

I love Summer Peach Sangria and The Boothby is also one of my all time favorites.

What do you love about being Executive Chef at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California?

It’s impossible not to love The Palace. The history is so rich and creating a luxury experience for people from around the globe provides ongoing inspiration. It is really a fun and creative challenge to maintain balance between classical and modern styles of cuisine.


Pied Piper at The Palace Hotel, San Francisco

Pied Piper at The Palace Hotel, San Francisco

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