Cracking the Code on Millennial Dining
There is no way to hide from it- the Millennials have taken over San Francisco. The generation, with over 90 million people, ages 16-34, are filling up your restaurants and social media feeds and making us all too aware of their likes, dislikes, and dietary restrictions. Unfortunately, ignoring this generation will only leave you out of the $2.45 trillion dollar pool that millennials have to spend.
Restaurants have come to realize that in order to succeed, they must learn the Millennial mindset. Join us for this discussion with Chef Charles Phan (Slanted Door Family), Chef Laurence Jossel (Nopa, Nopalito), Master Sommelier Christophe Tassan (The Battery), and moderator, Andrew Freeman (AF & CO Public Relations), as they offer insights as to how they have have reached this generation.
Thank you to our partners:
For many, the Bar Mitzvah marks the coming of age; for Andrew Freeman, it marked the start of a long path in marketing and public relations. He grew up in New Jersey (exit 153A) and graduated from Montclair State University with a marketing degree, paying his way through school by working at a travel agency and performing in just about every community theater musical in the area. (Name a show, he will sing the score for you.) Making people happy and bringing enjoyment into their lives is Andrew’s driving force.
In 2005, Andrew left Kimpton to open Andrew Freeman & Co. Andrew and his talented team work with the best hotels and restaurants in the country. The list of clients Andrew has had the opportunity to work with is amazing: Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, David Burke Restaurants, Campari America, the French Culinary Institute, Marriott Hotels International, Wente Vineyards, the Palm Restaurant Group, Larkspur Hotels, Domaine Chandon, Magnolia Bakery and other restaurants and hotels from coast to coast. Andrew also works with some of the nation’s very best chefs including Tyler Florence, Joanne Weir and Martin Yan on their exciting restaurant projects. Additionally, going into its fifth year in San Francisco, Andrew is thrilled that he has been given the opportunity by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association to co-create and produce the highly successful event Eat, Drink SF (Formerly called SFChefs) – one of the country’s leading food, wine and spirits festivals.
Christophe Tassan was born in Avignon, France. His career as a sommelier began in the early 1980s, working in his family's restaurant, “l’Auberge de France” (which became “Les Domaines”).
After taking his baccalaureat, Christophe attended the hotel management school in Avignon, then qualified as a sommelier at the Château de Suze la Rousse University of Wine. In 1987, he was awarded the title of “Best Young Sommelier” in the Provence region, and was ranked second for the whole of France in 1988. He was “Best Sommelier” for the South-East of France in 1992, recognised as “Maitre Sommelier” by the Union de la Somellerie Française in 2000, and granted the supreme title of “MOF Sommelier” (Meilleur Ouvrier de France) or “best craftsman in his craft” in 2004. Mr. Tassan is one of only 16 M.O.F Sommeliers in the world (the test to qualify is offered just every 4 years), and the only one working outside of France.
In early 2008, Tassan made the move to Alain Ducasse Enterprises and Mix at Mandalay Bay. Tassan set a goal of improving the wine list, which already numbered 1,000 selections. Given the economic climate, he tried to offer more affordable wines without compromising the level of quality or the impact that a fine wine could bring to the table.
Tassan left Mix in 2013 with Michelin-starred chef Jason Abrusto to helm the Wine Program at The Battery, a new generation private club in San Francisco with a 3,000 bottle wine cellar.“I see myself as a link between the winemaker and the diner,” he says. “As such, it has been exciting to introduce people to the high-end, emotionally rewarding wine experience at a price point that is more in line with what people are now comfortable spending."
Known as the inventor of modern Vietnamese cuisine in America, Charles Phan is executive chef and owner of the Slanted Door family of restaurants. Born in Da Lat, Vietnam, Charles Phan and his family moved to San Francisco in 1977. Being of Chinese descent, the Phans settled in Chinatown. Charles went to Mission High followed, by University of California, Berkeley where, with his parent’s prodding, he studied architecture.
Nonetheless, Charles always had a passion for food. Throughout high school, Charles bussed tables at The Coachman (an English pub owned by the Scott's Seafood proprietors), Mumm’s and Cafe Royale. As he became intrigued with cooking, Charles took notice of some of the more avant-garde Bay Area restaurants of the time. He credits Chez Panisse and Zuni Café for heavily influencing his food philosophy.
After college, Phan took over the family garment business and then decided to follow his passion and open The Slanted Door in 1995. Tapping his design background, Charles’ vision for the original restaurant was to create a stylish ambiance for traditional Vietnamese cooking. He wanted an ingredient-driven menu that changed often and relied heavily on California eating savvy. Phan knew there was nothing in San Francisco that combined all of these elements within the Vietnamese category. He commented at the time that, “Many of my staff thought I was crazy. I refused to cut any corners, use any bottled sauces or the typical Vietnamese crutch, MSG.”
Phan proved through the phenomenal success with the original Slanted Door Restaurant that combining the Bay Area’s sensibility for fresh ingredients with Vietnamese time-honored cooking techniques is a perfect marriage. More than fifteen years later, he continues to prove that showcasing farm-fresh, locally sourced products and preparing everything from scratch has put The Slanted Door on the cutting edge of Vietnamese cuisine.
In 2004, Phan won the James Beard Foundation Award for "Best Chef in California" in 2004 and this year he won the James Beard Foundation Award for "Outstanding Restaurant of the Year".
His Restaurant Empire includes: Slanted Door, The Coachman, Out the Door, Hard Water, Academy Cafe, The Moss Room, and South at SF Jazz.
Laurence Jossel, a former Chronicle Rising Star Chef who opened Chez Nous with great success in 2000, following stints at La Folie, the Ritz-Carlton with Gary Danko, and Kokkari. His partners in nopa are Allyson Jossel and Jeff Hanak. This trio, who met while all were working for Chow Restaurants, combines years of food and wine experience with outstanding restaurants in the Bay Area.