When young chefs have made a splash cooking in someone else's restaurant, having their own place can look so tempting. Especially when friends with money are urging them to take the plunge.
Melissa Perello is not so sure, but she's taking some time off to think it over.
At 30, Perello has already won a devoted following at Fifth Floor, the Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning restaurant in San Francisco, and before that at Charles Nob Hill. I think that she is one of the most talented chefs of her generation. This week she revealed that she is leaving Fifth Floor at the end of the year.
She says she wants to stay in San Francisco, and is mulling over the possibility of opening her own restaurant next year. She says she has the backing, but first she wants to "do nothing" for a while. Maybe travel to Europe to cook in a few restaurants, "if I can work it out," she says.
"I have another friend who is hounding me to do a cookbook," she sighs. "I need time to think so I can make the right decision."
She will take the restaurant through the New Year's Eve dinner, then wave goodbye. She is only the third chef since the restaurant opened in 1999 with George Morrone at the helm. Laurent Gras cooked there from 2001 to 2005, before returning to New York. The Kimpton Group, which owns the restaurant as well as the Hotel Palomar, where it is located, is searching for her replacement.