MEET THE NEXT WAVE OF CULINARY RISK-TAKERS

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Sarah and Evan Rich

Rich Table, San Francisco

Sarah and Evan Rich Evan Rich might be the only pasta-preoccupied chef in America who doesn't aspire to make agnolotti that tastes like it was made by someone's Piedmontese nonna.

"I try to be the least amount Italian possible," he says with a slightly mischievous smile.

He and his wife, Sarah, moved to San Francisco from New York six years ago. Following stints at Quince and Coi, they opened Rich Table, their self-titled debut in Hayes Valley about a year ago.

The walls of their dining room are lined with weathered wood planks and softly lit by industrial sconces. The place feels familiar, neighborly--and not particularly revolutionary.

Still, there is Evan's near-heretical anti-authenticity: "If someone tells me a pasta I've made is a version of something traditional, I change it right away. I don't want to do things specific to a particular region. I want to make things that are particular to us."

The couple met working at Bouley (she was his boss). Now they share kitchen duties, each contributing to a personal culinary style that's thoughtful and technique-driven without being overly fussy. That means "richilini" (a pasta shape they made up) with chanterelles and very un-Italian dill.

And it means a menu that feels Californian without overstating its case. "If I have to make a point of telling the diner that my restaurant is seasonal and market-driven then I'm not doing my job as a chef," Evan says. "We want this to be a reflection of the two of us, our style and the kind of place we would want to go to on any given night," Sarah says. "I think when you're eating in our restaurant, you really are eating our food--something we would cook for ourselves."

"You're eating at the Rich's table," Evan adds with that grin again. "Hence the name of the restaurant."

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