Urbanite

Haley Guild Moore

Message In A Bottle

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“Champagne and French fries, yes please!” Haley declares when delving into her favorite food and wine pairing. “Old white burgundy paired with white truffles, also amazing,” she continues. Haley Guild Moore can take you in any direction. She has affection for things that are at once playful, decadent, grand and often rare. It is her deep understanding of taste that makes one listen up when it is her turn to talk. Her accolades are endless and her achievements are many. Mrs. Moore landed her first wine directing role at the tender age of 24. From this position at Bacar in San Francisco she launched into a career that has not slowed for even a breath. In 2009, as a lead sommelier for the renowned restaurant, Spruce, The Wine Spectator recognized her wine list of 2,800 selections with it’s ‘Best Award of Excellence.’ Currently the wine and spirits director for Stock & Bones, Haley now oversees five restaurants, all varied in concept and unique in their needs.  For Moore, this is more opportunity than challenge. “Each restaurant is a chance to showcase something different.  Wine selections become puzzle pieces. You move around the puzzle pieces and complete each picture.” Haley does not settle for the trendy, crowd-pleasing wines that are readily available to a top tier wine buyer. She searches for grapes of distinction, for wine that is unique and true to itself. Wine can always be an accompaniment to food but when the bottle becomes a portal into the culture of the people who produced it, then Haley Moore will take notice.

Mrs. Moore tempers her love for the grape with an equal affection for the actual experience of it all — when the good stuff is all balled together. “Mind blowing moments,” she declares. “All of the ‘ahha!’ moments.”  These are the direct result of staff, food, and wine swirling around in perfect harmony. Haley recalls New York’s Jean George and dinners at Septime of Paris, places versed in the art of perfection. These snapshots of the ideal serve as standard when training her staff back home. Every year she takes part in multiple festivals and symposiums — L.A. Food and Wine as well as Pebble Beach to name a few. These events give exposure to the best of the best. She encourages wine travel and education and insists that these are a gateway to go beyond the surface of simply selling wine. A bottle of wine can be truly unique. There are so many ranges of style, and expressions of ideas that lie just within the confines of glass and cork… and who better to let them out than Haley Guild Moore.

Abigail Ziaja

The Fire Starter

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Walk with Abigail for just a few paces and see if you can keep up.  Her world is dizzying and demand for attention is high. She’ll put out a fire and start a new one all in the same fell swoop. This is what she does, but also what is expected when running one of the busiest, top notch restaurants in a city known for it’s culinary highs. A New York transplant and well seasoned in the hospitality game, Abigail began her affair with San Francisco and The Salt House three short years ago. In this breadth of time she has mastered both a city and the house she has chosen to call her home. Abigail brings with her a wealth of experience from around the world. Chat for just a few minutes and you may find yourself waxing poetic about the coastline of Naples or listening to a declaration as to what hour is best to wander the streets of Paris. “There’s a time of day, around five o’clock, that everyone goes and buys a baguette and then they eat a little, walk a little, and meander on to wherever they’re going. They’re is something beautiful about simplicity, when an experience is true to exactly what it is, and it’s all reflected.” She then quips, “Or, maybe it’s just because I love bread so much, who knows!”

When asked about what draws her to the industry, she responds: “The tactile experience is addicting.” Every night, the Salt House cannonball’s along in a beautiful state of controlled chaos. It is, as if all of the exposed brick and massive steal beams are needed to hold the place down. “Life is happening all around you, wonderful things, tragic things all in real time.” Mrs. Ziaja says. “There is something about gathering over food and wine that is inherently human,” she continues, eyes flashing with genuine adoration for just such an experience. She loves to make a connection, to feel the intense satisfaction of touching every table. For this mild addiction, she places blame squarely at the feet of storied restauranteur Danny Meyer. Abigail often uses Meyer’s book, an industry standard, Setting The Table as a blueprint for service.  She smiles wide when recounting Danny’s theory of finding “nuggets” (little shards of a guest’s experience) which can be spun into gold and given back to them in an unforgettable way. At this, Abigail Ziaja is a natural. In actuality, for her, no book is needed.

Andrea Valenzuela

The Natural

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The restaurant business is brimming with people who love to talk themselves up. They are their own heroes and they would crown themselves king or queen if they could.  No one is to blame; it is a perk of a highly social and energized industry. After all, I have been one of those people for years.  Some, however, are just not that way.   Andrea Valenzuela is cut from a different cloth. Highly successful and ever humble, this girl has always been short on talk and long on action. We meet at Serpentine, a local haunt for the Dog Patch crowd. Andrea has lived in this up-and-coming, industrial swath for almost two years.  Her roommate and best friend tends bar across the street.  She feels right at home. Oysters arrive just as I sit down; we are cozied up to the bar. Today is her day off, and high on her list of priorities are food and drink. “Oysters, tons of horseradish, and beer! Such a good way to go!” She declares with a little grin.

“I love everything about it, never sitting still. The mix of it all. The fact that it becomes a lifestyle,” Ms. Valenzuela declares. This woman has not left a single industry stone unturned. She has even waded through crowds of rowdy Giant’s fans, serving food and drink to the loudest bid. Andrea perfected craft cocktails while behind the stick at the highly respected Town Hall. She has been a server, a manager, and now, simply put, she is the top dog. After joining the highly successful restaurant team of Anna Weinberg and James Nicholas, her ascension was quick. After spending brief stints at Cavalier and North Beach’s Park Tavern, Andrea was tapped to reopen and run Marlowe. Marlowe requires a special touch. A SOMA neighborhood bistro that opened in 2010, this restaurant has a devoted following and has been critically acclaimed.  Keeping up with it would challenge the most seasoned of staff, and Andrea would not have it any other way. “This wouldn’t be fun if it all went right, all of the time. Finding ways to work it all out, that’s what I love.” Andrea shakes her head a bit and smiles. “I don’t know any other industry. This is me. This is what I do.” And believe me, what she does, she does very, very well.

Text by Gabriel Cothes
Photography by Terrence McCarthy

THE OBSESSION ISSUE

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