The Interview With Raj Mathai

The Interview With Raj Mathai

In-depth interviews that go beyond one or two soundbites

The Interview: Chef Gary Danko

Chef Gary Danko gives us a rare look into his kitchen and wine cellar

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Chef Gary Danko sits down with NBC Bay Area's Raj Mathai and gives us a rare look into his San Francisco kitchen and wine cellar.

    Maybe the only thing harder than getting a reservation at his prized restaurant is getting behind-the-scenes access to his kitchen, but NBC Bay Area's Raj Mathai recently did just that with one of the most private and celebrated chefs in Bay Area History, Gary Danko.

    A few things come with the territory, the cable cars, the beautiful bridge, and Gary Danko. "I'm a San Franciscan not by birth, but by choice, by love. It is my city," he told Raj.

    Danko has been a celebrity chef before the term even existed and his restaurant has been rated number one in Zagat's Bay Area restaurant guide for most of the last decade.

    "Does it register to you anymore?" Raj asked Danko.

    "For my ego, I try to remain humble. I like to stay in the kitchen. I like to chop-chop behind the scenes," he answered.

    And behind the scenes you do see the chaos, Danko style.

    "It's called organized chaos basically," Danko admitted. "When it comes in it means automatically fire that first course. Bob coordinates it, sends it out, draws a line in it. Hangs it over in a neutral zone here."

    "From an outsiders point of view, I have no idea of what you just said," Raj replied.

    To be clear, it's not just food being created in Danko's kitchen. It's art, and that's what Danko believes keep customers coming back. "There's a huge gap between restaurants that really want to take care of you. Anyone can open a restaurant, but how long can you keep it there?"

    Below the hustle bustle of the kitchen is one of the best wine cellars in Northern California. "Will you keep your personal wines here or at the house?" Raj asked Danko. "I have a ton of wine at the house," he answered with a laugh.

    While Danko is known for his high-end gourmet cuisine, Raj asked him about some less than gourmet cuisine.

    "Any guilty pleasures? Double Double?"

    "I do the double-double, no cheese, of course the french fries. That's the guilty pleasure."

    "Last meal?"

    "Most people would say simple food, but I eat that everyday," Danko said. "If I went out, it would be caviar, signature buckwheat blini. And great wine of course."