Local Mission Eatery's Jake and Shauna Des Voignes: The SFoodie Interview, Part 2
Jake and Shauna Des Voignes grew up in California and took similar paths to careers in fine dining, before meeting during stints at Fifth Floor. Yesterday, we traced the chefs' bios, including Local Mission Eatery, which opened last March. The restaurant, which serves sandwiches by day and twice-weekly prix-fixe meals by night, also houses a cookbook lending library, offers kitchen classes, and sports a pastry shop in back, Shauna's Knead Patisserie (she sets up a morning breakfast cart in Local's doorway).
Chris MacArthur/SF Weekly Jake Des Voignes.
Local Mission recently scored a beer and wine license. That'll mean more dinners, says owner Yaron Milgrom, though specific plans are still brewing. The restaurant is currently closed for summer break. It reopens Tuesday, July 13.
SFoodie: Local Mission Eatery is sort of a unique place: sandwiches during the day, sit-down dinners at night, cooking classes, a cookbook lending library ― you guys are at the forefront of this shift in the way people in San Francisco interact with food. Does it feel that way to you?
Jake: Well, there are a lot of people in San Francisco that don't see it happening. I guess I'd say that it's happening all over, it's not unique to us. It's happening in Paris with young chefs who are suddenly interested in casual food. You could see it happening in the gastropubs in the '90s in the U.K.
Shauna: I think a lot of people are interested in going back to basics.
How does it feel to go from this fine-dining background to suddenly be spending your day essentially making sandwiches?
John Birdsall Local Mission's jumbo asparagus open-face sandwich with slow-poached egg and Meyer lemon mousseline.
Jake: We do both come from fine-dining backgrounds, but on our own, whenever we had the time, we'd prefer to go to casual ethnic places. I think the idea is to bring really good food to people, food that has integrity, pastured meats, fish sustainably caught, and to do that at an approachable price point. I think we both wanted to share that with people outside of a fine-dining format.
I also feel that diners are shifting. Fine dining used to be a bigger thing, but I think it was more about the show and the ceremony. And now, people don't have as much leisure as they used to have, but they still want to go out.
Chris MacArthur/SF Weekly Shauna Des Voignes.
Shauna: People are smart about their food now. It used to be that fine dining was the only place you could get super high-quality food. That's really changed.
But do you ever think, My god, I've turned into a sandwich maker?
Jake: Well, we're still doing the food we were trained to do at dinner. But, I guess at first I was concerned about it, losing my chef identity, going very casual. But trying to get a sandwich that's really good is hard, outside of the usual suspects.
Shauna: It's challenging to take all the information you know and put it into a different format.
But, even though you guys are doing casual food here, it's casual by fine-dining standards. Do you ever feel out of place here on 24th Street?
Shauna: Being out there on the street [with the Knead Patisserie morning pastry cart] you notice what people are saying. And it's true, in panaderias and other places around here, you can get something that's twice the size of what I'm making for a dollar. But there's also a lot of people in the neighborhood looking for more. I think we're offering balance to the neighborhood.
Jake: Hispanic ladies in the neighborhood will come to the cart and get really excited, because it's new. They'll want to know how to make something they see.
Shauna: Shauna: I get a lot of questions about recipes
Jake: Some people are put off, I'd say some of the older people, and then you even have younger people who think we don't fit the gritty cheaper Mission they want it to be. Up and down the street here, you see mostly tacos. Which is good, but bad for anyone looking for more. During the buildout we were here every day, we ate on 24th Street every day, and all you can get are tacos and burritos. Pupusas, taquerias ― there's not much variety, it can get monotonous very fast. I'd say there's also a new demographic in the neighborhood. You see a lot of strollers.
Shauna: A lot. Anytime those people wanted something different they had to go way out of the neighborhood to find it.
Jake: And we're keeping stuff in the neighborhood. I get some rolls from the panaderia right over here, and from Panorama, not far from here. We're trying as much as possible to buy from the immediate neighborhood.
Shauna: Jaime ― [La Victoria owner] Jaime Maldonado was one of the first people to walk into the bakery. He was really excited, and he understands the neighborhood. He sees the changes happening, he wants to keep moving with it.