Executive Chef and Owner
San Francisco, CA
As executive chef and owner of Quince and Cotogna restaurants, Michael Tusk is known for his refined and modern approach to both Italian and French regional cuisine.
A native of New Jersey, Michael developed a profound curiosity about food at a very young age. While studying Art History at Tulane University, he took his first cooking job and was immediately drawn to the industry. Michael subsequently enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, where he became formally dedicated to the culinary arts.
Upon graduating, Michael departed for Europe to gain experience in Michelin-starred restaurants throughout France and Italy. He was particularly inspired by his experience in Italy’s Barbaresco region, which cultivated a deep interest in Northern Italian regional cooking.
When Michael returned to the United States in 1988, he settled in the Bay Area and started working at the legendary Stars restaurant. He left a year later for a position at Chez Panisse, where he stayed for four years. Michael credits much of his culinary philosophy to the time he spent under the influential tutelage of Alice Waters and then-chef Paul Bertolli.
Leaving Chez Panisse in 1994, Michael returned to France to gain more experience before signing on to work with Bertolli at Oliveto in Oakland. During his six-year tenure at this popular Italian restaurant, the duo often traveled to Italy for menu inspiration and to hunt for new ingredients.
Determined to open a restaurant of his own, Michael left Oliveto in 2000 and spent the next few years scouting potential locations. In 2003, he and his wife Lindsay discovered a quaint corner in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights and opened Quince. The intimate, 60-seat restaurant quickly became known as one of the city’s top fine-dining destinations, and Michael gained notoriety for his relationship with local purveyors.
The Tusks relocated the restaurant in 2009 to a historic 1907 brick and timber building in San Francisco’s Jackson Square neighborhood, which gave them the opportunity to open a second restaurant, Cotogna, adjacent to Quince. In its new home, Quince has been awarded a one Michelin-star rating and four stars from the San Francisco Chronicle, and Cotogna has become a popular destination for rustic California-Italian cuisine.
In 2011, Tusk was honored with the James Beard Award for “Best Chef Pacific.”