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High-Profile Bay-Area Chefs Move On

Meadowood's Joseph Humphrey to take the helm at a new resort, while Myth's Sean O'Brien to look for a new challenge close to home

Harvey Steiman
Posted: December 17, 2007

Two prominent San Francisco-area chefs have revealed that they are leaving their respective kitchens. By early 2008, Joseph Humphrey will be leaving the restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, Calif., only weeks after it received two stars in the newest Michelin Guide to San Francisco; and Sean O'Brien will be out when new owners take over Myth, a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner in San Francisco.

Humphrey will be the executive chef of Cavallo Point: The Lodge at Golden Gate, a new resort at Fort Baker in Sausalito, Calif., just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, scheduled to open in May 2008. Humphrey revitalized the restaurant at the Meadowood resort in Napa Valley, a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner, with his emphasis on local ingredients and wine-friendly cuisine.

"The big draw for me is to have my hand in more than just a fine-dining restaurant," Humphrey said of the move. "Don't get me wrong. I loved working at Meadowood, but this is an opportunity to take what I've learned and expand on it."

Humphrey came to Meadowood after a stint as interim chef at Auberge du Soleil, another high-end Napa resort. That followed 12 years in San Francisco and Las Vegas working with chefs such as Bradley Ogden, George Morrone, Julian Serrano and Michael Mina.

The high-end restaurant at Cavallo Point, Murray Circle, will have 100 seats and a view of San Francisco across the bay. Humphrey expects to serve more casual food at the adjacent bar with an outdoor terrace. "We also have a cooking school where I will do classes, some of them in collaboration with some really great chefs," Humphrey added.

Humphrey officially starts his new gig Jan. 1.

At Myth, O'Brien found himself in the unusual position of having the restaurant sold out from under him. K2K Development LLC, a real-estate development company, bought the Financial District restaurant and its sister café next door, then sold it to an as-yet-unnamed buyer. Although O'Brien intends to remain at Myth until February, he said that current owner Tom Duffy told him the new owners want their own people in place when they take over. Duffy was traveling in Costa Rica and unavailable for comment.

The new buyer, according to O'Brien, also wants to install its own corporate sommelier, which would mean that Myth sommelier Alex Fox will be leaving as well.

Neither O'Brien nor the restaurant's publicist could explain why a real-estate developer had to buy the restaurant before selling it, nor why the new corporate owner wanted to remain anonymous for now. An announcement is expected before Christmas, the current publicist said.

O'Brien, who lives in San Mateo, just south of San Francisco, hopes to stay in the Bay area. "My wife and I are happy here," he said. "I would like to have my own restaurant someday, but I don't think I can line up partners and a location before February. So I'll be looking for a job."

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