Daniel Patterson is an American chef, restaurateur and food writer, considered a leading proponent of California cuisine.
A self-taught chef, Patterson was born in Lynn, Massachusetts. His mother was a French and history teacher, and his father was a lawyer. He says his family's frequent travels to France influenced his views on food. He began working as a restaurant dishwasher at age 14, and attended Duke University before dropping out. In 1989 he moved to Sonoma, California with then-girlfriend (and later wife) Elizabeth Ramsey. With Ramsey, Patterson opened Babette's, a French-inspired restaurant, in Sonoma in 1994 at age 25. The restaurant subsequently closed in 1999 when his lease expired. Wine Spector described it as a "top" restaurant in the town. Patterson and Ramsey opened Elizabeth Daniel in 2000, and closed it on New Years Day, 2004 due to slow business despite a strong reputation. He was opening chef at Frisson, a short-lived restaurant that incorporated elements of aromatherapy and molecular gastronomy.
Coi, which he opened in 2006, earned two Michelin stars, and was one of several restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area to earn four stars from the San Francisco Chronicle. Patterson describes its concept as combining haute cuisine, an emphasis on local vegetables, a modern aesthetic and a personal approach to cooking, with "a casual, neighborhood feeling." The approach was uncommon at the time, but later became a hallmark of Northern California restaurants. His cooking at Coi involves foraging for wild ingredients, using aromas and essential oils (including asking patrons to rub grapefruit oil on their hands before a dish, or placing inedible fragrant flowers on a dish) and making his own ingredients (for example, butter churned in-house).
He opened an informal rotisserie, Il Cane Rosso ("the red dog" in Italian), in the San Francisco Ferry Building with co-owner Lauren Kiino. He opened restaurants Plum in Uptown Oakland in 2010 and Haven in Oakland's Jack London Square in 2012. Both have similar menus and experience to Coi with a choice of a la carte or tasting menus.
Patterson lives in Oakland, California, and is married to litigation attorney Alexandra Foote.
Patterson also writes about food. He is an occasional contributor to New York Times Magazine, Food & Wine Magazine and San Francisco Magazine. In 2004 he wrote "The Magic of Essential Oils in Food and Fragrance" together with co-author Mandy Aftel, a noted perfume maker.
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