Rising Stars MICHELIN Guide Awards

Meet Harrison Cheney, California's Finest Young Chef According to Michelin Guide

Alessandra Meldolesi
copertina harrison cheney

Harrison Cheney from Sons & Daughters restaurant in San Francisco is the rising star of American cuisine. The Michelin Guide has just honored his New Nordic-influenced and seasonally-focused style with the Young Chef Award for California.

"As a child, I knew I wanted to become a chef. Many kids want to be football players or something as such, and I went through that phase too. But around the age of 8, I started expressing to my mother the desire to become a chef. We had many recipe books at home, she cooked a lot, and we watched many cooking shows together. So, I never looked back. Right after school, I took a job as a dishwasher. Then, I attended culinary school while working. It was my number one choice."

Harrison Cheney Camille Cohen The Standard
@Camille Cohen, The Standard

"When I was around 17, I worked at an Icelandic restaurant in London and fell in love with the fusion of acidity, brightness, and lightness in the cuisine. Later on, I got acquainted with the Nordic culinary movement, and it fascinated me. I worked at a hotel with a small garden where we harvested ingredients just before service, from potatoes to wild herbs. Something that truly left a mark on me. When I arrived in Stockholm, I felt like I was cooking the way I was meant to. Personally, I think the New Nordic movement's approach to food is fabulous, as it involves extracting and showcasing the purity of ingredients, and incorporating techniques and preservation methods used for centuries. It's a truly sustainable way of cooking that aligns with my food philosophy."

sons and daughters restaurant

"The first step towards sustainability is education. It's something I really wanted my team to learn from each other. We continuously ask ourselves what we can do to become more sustainable. For the menu, it's about considering not just what ends up on the plate but also everything else. It's very easy to think about having the perfect piece by cutting here and there. Instead, I wonder how I can use everything and incorporate it into the dish.

Harrison Cheney

We visit the farmer's market twice a week and go foraging once. Much of the produce, especially the finishing touches, comes from our own sources. We work to eliminate single-use plastic and collaborate with incredible people who make aprons and ceramics locally. Then there's seasonality, which dictates what we serve. It starts with knowing what to look for and going to the farmer's market. By building relationships with farmers, they can let us know when the products are at their best, making it easy to create delicious recipes. We never use ingredients that aren't ready."

Harrison Cheney caviale d Aquitania e latticello Chelsea davis
Aquitaine's caviar, buttermilk - @Chelsea Davis

"What motivates me in the kitchen is my team, seeing everyone giving their best. Knowing that they are there for me, and I am there for them. My sous chef told me once, 'Chef, we are all here because we believe in you.' Having a team you believe in, and who believes in you, is incredibly powerful. We don't fear each other, and we take care of one another. We have the opportunity to always do better. If we have an off day, we remind ourselves that we can learn from it and improve the next day. That's what truly drives me. To young cooks, my advice is first to work for chefs who genuinely care about their craft and the food they create. You need to choose a mentor you want to work for. By sacrificing hours and hours, you need to believe in what you're doing. Then, learn from every place you work at. I've taken good and bad things from every place I've worked. We have the fantastic opportunity to become creative individuals. When you shape your career as a chef, your canvas is your journey, and that's what makes you unique. Today, it's very easy for young people to rush and want everything immediately. I'm still young myself, but I've been cooking for 14 years, and I can say it’s worth it in the end."

Interview from guide.michelin.com 

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