Executive Chef and Owner
San Francisco, CA
A self-taught super chef, David Barzelay knows good food. With the runaway success of the underground rendition of his Michelin-starred restaurant Lazy Bear, one would be surprised to learn that his culinary path wasn’t always set in stone. And with a background in law and a penchant for hosting entertaining dinner parties, Barzelay brings a unique set of skills to the restaurant.
Barzelay grew up in Tampa, FL and pursued his academic career at Vanderbilt University. After college, he enrolled in Georgetown Law, but quickly developed an interest in cooking and spent class time sneakily poring over cookbooks and food blogs. Shortly after moving to San Francisco for a job as an associate attorney, the 2009 financial crisis hit and Barzelay was left with a long severance package and a driving passion to start anew. He took advantage of the opportunity and plunged into the culinary world full force, staging at a handful of San Francisco’s best restaurants while experimenting with recipe concoctions at home.
After a year of hosting multi-course dinner parties with his wife in their own home under the moniker Lazy Bear (dinners during which excess dirty dishes had to be placed in the bedroom to be washed once guests left, and for which goats were left on ice in the bathtub while waiting to be butchered), Barzelay took a leap of faith and moved the dinners to an empty warehouse. As interest grew and word of mouth spread, Barzelay began to accommodate more and more guests, and was soon serving upwards of 40 people per night, several nights each week.
Recognizing the success of the five-year-old underground operation, Barzelay decided to open a permanent space to give guests an enhanced experience while still maintaining the open, communal aspects of the pop-up.“I started Lazy Bear as a huge food geek because I loved food, and every format decision we’ve made along the way has been about appealing to people who love food and want to celebrate it,” Barzelay says. The permanent location allows for more control over everything from beverages to comfort and ambience, and Barzelay is thrilled to finally have a space that is truly Lazy Bear, complete with rustic materials and quirky vintage decorations.
When not hosting his ten dinner parties a week, Barzelay can be found sourcing ingredients at various local markets, or spending time with his wife Jeanette and baby son Arthur.