Great Chefs @ Home: Erik Cosselmon

By Elisabeth Laurence
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
The San Francisco Examiner

Kokkari, the legend goes, is the site where Orion, son of the Greek god Poseidon, fell in love with the daughter of the King of Chios.  For the love of her, Orion foraged the island for wild game and seafood to prepare elaborate banquets.

Erik Cosselmon, executive Chef of Kokkari Estiatorio in San Francisco, the renowned Hellenic restaurant on Jackson Street, brings his own distinctive world-view to bear to this mythic repast, using farm-fresh ingredients to produce Aegean dishes and regional Mediterranean cuisine with California flair.

 A young foodie ("my dad was a great cook"), Cosselmon grew up in Michigan, moved to New York to enter the restaurant business and landed his first job at Tavern on the Green.  After various stops in New York and Europe, he transplanted to San Francisco, opened Vertigo as sous chef and became executive chef of the popular Rose Pistola, and  executive chef of Cetrella Restaurant in Half Moon Bay before he was appointed executive chef of Kokkari two years ago.

He and his  wife, Deborah Kwan, a food publicist, have a daughter, Hannah, 6, and a son, Miles, 2, and live in Mission Terrace in San Francisco.

The family has resided in this home for eight years, "Time for a remodel," he says, "I promised this is the year."  He has made the kitchen the center of an active family's life.

With high ceilings, white walls and glass cabinets with original facings and light tiles, the kitchen has an old-world feel that adds warmth to the photograhs on the refrigerator, the pantry rife with appetizing edibles, with drawings of 2-year-old Miles and a stool for Hannah to stand on when she helps around the kitchen.

Cosselmon smiles at his daughter as he lifts her high.  For a man who has great dreams and talent to spare, the delight is apparent for all to see.