General Manager
Paul Kirby email
Executive Chef
Erik Cosselmon email
Chef de Cuisine
Tony Cervone email
Office Manager
Molly Barrango email
Sous Chefs

Harry Madeckas Manuel Vera

email
email

Managers

Robin Kirby
Doug Dietz
Dimitrios Kalessis


email
email
email

Wine Buyer
Lyle Coffield email
Banquet Manager
Elise Olson email



BIOS


Paul Kirby

General Manager

Paul Kirby has a gracious, low-key charm that he attributes to his Southern upbringing.   He was raised primarily in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his two sisters and brother.  At school, he was a star athlete and focused student, yet was always characterized as quiet and soft-spoken.

While he may be soft-spoken and charming, Paul is also extremely driven.  His dedicated, hands-on approach to management means he is a very visible figure at Kokkari.  A direct complement to Chef Erik Cosselmon’s ingredient-driven style , the main focus for Kirby is people.  Running a restaurant is “all about taking care of people” says Kirby, “from your staff to each and every guest that comes in to your establishment.  Restaurant employees that are valued and respected, take pride in their work and truly enjoy their jobs and that translates to satisfied, happy patrons” 

Paul’s initial experience in the hospitality industry came right out of college as a operations with the Marriott Corporation.  For seven years he managed the food service operations at private Universities in the Southeastern United States.  Paul then moved north to New York state where he settled along the Southern shores of Long Island.  In The Hamptons, Paul helped develop and manage several waterfront restaurant properties.

After six years in New York, Paul headed West to San Francisco, where he assumed the position of General Manager for Rose Pistola working alongside acclaimed, Bay Area Chef, Reed Hearon. Paul came to Kokkari Estiatorio in July, 2000 following three years with Hearon.  By this time, Kirby had cultivated a genuine appreciation for rustic Meditteranean cuisine and wines, an essential prerequisite for working at Kokkari.

Under Kirby, Kokkari’s refreshing approach to service emphasizes the emotional elements of hospitality:  Have a good time and above all, make sure the guests have a great time.  That’s not to say that the technical aspects of service are ignored.  Paul and the management staff at Kokkari work hard to ensure that every staff member is equipped with the tools and the knowledge to do their jobs well.  On most evenings Kirby can be found in the dining room at Kokkari, greeting and chatting with patrons, helping the staff to take care of their guests and ensuring that, above all, everyone is having a good time.


Erik Cosselmon

Executive Chef

Erik Cosselmon’s wide-ranging Mediterranean repertoire and strong, ingredient-driven style finds full expression in the Greek-inspired menus at San Francisco’s Kokkari and Palo Alto’s Evvia.  Since being named executive chef of Kokkari in 2004, Cosselmon’s brand of casual taverna cuisine has attracted even more devotees, earning Kokkari a place in the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Top 100 Restaurants” every year since it opened.  

“The whole idea at Kokkari and Evvia,” says Cosselmon, “is to come and try lots of things.” The menu offers a plethora of choices including 20 different starters to share; meats cooked in the fireplace rotisserie including Don Watson’s Napa Valley lamb, Grimaud ducks, Heritage Berkshire pigs and, depending on the season, goose and goat; whole fish including Petrale sole as well as branzino, dorade, barbounia (red mullet), sardines and anchovies; and tangy housemade Greek yogurt with spiced walnuts and dates drizzled with Atiki honey.  A trip to Greece in October, 2005 helped Cosselmon infuse his cooking with a better understanding of Greek culture and lifestyle, as well as the ingredients of its cuisine.

Cosselmon was born in Flint, Michigan and grew up on a farm in central Michigan where his family grew tomatoes, squash, carrots, onions, peas, Swiss chard and rhubarb and raised rabbits, chickens and geese.  “I helped my mom tend the kitchen garden,” he says, “and my dad cook for the large parties we’d often host.”  This introduction to farm-fresh ingredients and cooking cemented his desire to be a chef at an early age—and he still gets a dreamy look in his eyes talking about Michigan cherries.

Cosselmon started doing restaurant prep work when he was 15 and after high school was accepted at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.  He immediately moved to New York to work until school started, starting as a line cook at Tavern on the Green.  “At Tavern,” he says, “I learned how to manage a busy restaurant and still do good food.”  He worked weekends at Tavern until his graduation—except for a six-month externship in the Napa Valley at Auberge du Soleil working for Chef Albert Tordjman. 

Graduating with honors in 1988, Cosselmon served as tournant at New York’s Palio.  After a break in Paris, he returned to New York, joining  Geoffrey Zakarian for the opening of “44” at the Royalton Hotel, moving on to Montrachet, and serving on the opening team at Tribeca Grill. Back in Europe, he did a two-month stage at the Michelin three star La Bonne Auberge in Antibes in the south of France. 

Returning to New York, he worked for Gilbert Le Coze at Le Bernardin as chef de brigade in charge of first courses.  Working alongside chef Eberhard Mueller and pastry chef François Payard, he learned the inner workings of a four star restaurant; the level of service and the simple preparation of pristine ingredients made a profound impression.  “Working with the daily deliveries of seafood―live sea urchins, scallops, and fish―I finally understood what fresh fish really meant.” 

After helping relaunch “44” at the Royalton, he proceeded to Daniel for more experience in pastry.  “Daniel was the first four star restaurant I worked at where the chef was not afraid to offer peasant food like tripe.  With a recognized and trusted talent such as Boulud, people aren’t afraid to try new things.”

Even off the job, Cosselmon absorbed culinary influences that would inform his position at Kokkari.  Living in the Greek enclave in Astoria, Queens, he frequented local groceries, butchers, fishmongers and cheese shops where he purchased and cooked with different kinds of feta, cured and dried fish, meats, yogurt and olives.  “In Astoria,” he says, “you knew spring had arrived when whole rabbits, goats, and lambs were hanging in the butcher’s window.”

Cosselmon moved to San Francisco and in 1996 joined Reed Hearon in opening his landmark Ligurian restaurant, Rose Pistola, in North Beach.  “Ligurian food and technique reminded me of the time I spent in the South of France—same ingredients but in different combinations,” he says.  Cosselmon became Rose Pistola’s executive chef in 1998 and increased critical and popular acclaim soon followed, including being named “Best Italian Restaurant” in the San Francisco Chronicle Readers’ Poll three years in a row. 

In 2001, ready for a new challenge, Cosselmon left to become executive chef of Cetrella Bistro & Cafe in Half Moon Bay.  Immediate and consistent critical praise for his cuisine helped establish this coast side community as a dining destination.  “I had an invaluable experience at Cetrella,” he says, “working with the local farmers, selecting and caring for cheeses in the cheese room, and having a venue where I could further explore the regional cuisines of Spain, Italy, France and Portugal.”

Cosselmon’s subsequent move to Kokkari made perfect sense, “Since moving from New York to the Bay Area, my cooking philosophy has evolved from the formal French tradition to the less complicated Mediterranean, with a focus on ingredients as opposed to the architecture of a dish.  I like lots of little hits of strong flavors, offering the diner a choice of tastes and family-style service.  It’s how I like to eat and cook.   His leadership and cuisine has contributed to Kokkari’s extraordinary success as one of San Francisco’s busiest restaurants.  In Fall 2006, Cosselmon was named executive chef of sister restaurant Evvia located in Palo Alto where he oversees the menu. 

“The goal at Kokkari and Evvia is to offer as close to a true Greek restaurant experience as possible.  Not only is it about good food, it’s about the people you’re with, the celebratory atmosphere, and Greek hospitality.”  

Erik lives in San Francisco with his wife Deborah, their children Hannah and Miles and two cats.


 

 

 
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