Nothing, however, shone more brightly than
the food. Shoberg and fellow chefs — aforementioned Lowrey, Sebastian Miller and Jenna Pool
— created a feast combining the best of Northern
California’s harvest with the hearty sensibility
of winter in Michigan, where Shoberg grew up.
As guests arrived, they were offered a crostini
of beef tartare topped with a raw quail-egg yolk.
And when they sat down to dinner, it was to a salt-crusted standing rib roast, game hens stuffed
with root vegetables, sweet potato gnocchi, and a
risotto of butternut squash and pea shoots.
It’s typical of Shoberg — and now Molina —
to create an entirely original meal from what’s
been picked that day. “You won’t ever eat the
same meal at Molina,” says Robertson, owner
of Shoreline Coffee Shop. A typical dish at
Molina, for example, might be Manila clams
with English and snap peas, cream, bacon and
chili oil. The flavors fairly pop off the taste buds.
If Shoberg’s cuisine is a refreshing depar-
ture from that of other restaurants, it may be
because he took an unconventional route to
the head chef spot. He started his career as a
photographer and mountain bike racer and, to
support himself, started working in restaurants
at 13, washing dishes and waiting tables. While
traveling around the country for races, he also
learned to cook healthy meals for himself. But
the travels themselves were also an education.
“I went to every corner of the U. S. to race,” says
Shoberg, “and was exposed to a lot of different
cultures and growing seasons and foods.”
He only moved into professional cook-
ing after an iconic Chicago chef, Michael
Lachowicz, recognized his gifts and asked
him to work in the kitchen instead of in the
waiter’s job for which he’d applied. From there,
it was a pretty meteoric rise, from Scalo in
Albuquerque, where he tutored under chef
Jonathan Perno, eventually to the Bay Area,
where he became executive chef at Piatti Mill
Opener: Todd Shoberg toasts to his new venture. Opposite:
West Elm decorations, including candles and holders, warm
the room. This page, clockwise from top left: Cooking the
greens; meal preparation made easy with a handy master
prep list; roasted game hens stuffed with root vegetables.