Chef Brian Sepulveda for Mesa & Bar,
Chef Brian Sepulveda for Mesa & Bar, "Top Chefs Of San Francisco" Special Edition | Foto: Chef Brian Sepulveda for Mesa & Bar, "Top Chefs Of San Francisco" Special Edition

Brian Sepulveda, No Ordinary Chef

Por: Edward Rueda

16, May, 2022 en Business Concept

No Ordinary Chef

Geraldine Zialcita

Cooking is an alliance of Art, Science, and Math, yet the core ingredients that truly define food are, love, family, and joy—a celebration of life. If you are to ask the Executive Chef of the InterContinental Mark Hopkins in San Francisco, California what wets his palates, he will definitely tell you it’s more than just the food―it’s the whole nine yards—from concept, preparation, presentation, to execution.

As a child, Brian Sepulveda developed a fondness for contemporary Mexican cuisine which has been his favorite ever since. “My favorite childhood memory was watching my grandmother prepare meals for the family. Her fresh hand-made tortillas were deliciously out of this world. She was a significant part of my life and I’ve kept the toys and blanket she gave me,” he shares.

Brian wears multiple hats, from getting his hands dirty in the kitchen, overseeing the entire operations of Top of the Mark—the famed penthouse lounge of the hotel, presiding over the farm-to-table restaurant, Nob Hill Club, to handling the banquets and catering which includes producing the menus for holidays and events. “I am also in charge of training, developing, and managing a wide range of staff comprised of 51 cooks and stewards. I’m responsible for the safety and sanitation and keeping labor and food costs at par with what deems profitable,” he conveys.

To play a fundamental role for the historic hotel is one of Brian’s greatest blessings. The InterContinental Mark Hopkins is a prominent landmark nestled at the crest of Nob Hill which was launched in1926. The renowned hotel spells elegance, character, and charm and consists of 383 rooms with 33 suites, 7 of which have enclosed terraces, more than 19,000 square feet of event space, including 2 historic ballrooms, and offers the finest amenities combined with excellent service. Top of the Mark has been operating since 1939 and is widely known and appreciated for its 360-degree breathtaking panoramic views of the City skyline and the Bay which include the TransAmerica Building, Bay Bridge, and Sutro Tower.

Brian Sepulveda for Mesa & Bar, "Top Chefs Of San Francisco" Special Edition
Brian Sepulveda for Mesa & Bar, “Top Chefs Of San Francisco” Special Edition

Brian discovered his passion for cooking and food when he was in high school. Taking his sentiment to the next level, Brian pursued his degrees to hone his craft. He holds a BA in Hospitality Management from Northern Arizona University, an AAS in Culinary Arts from Santa Fe Community College, an Associate Degree in Business/Managerial Economics from Ashworth College, and Continuing Education credits from the American Management Association. Brian also attended the Culinary Arts program at the Art Institute of Phoenix. “Learning at the Art Institute of Phoenix was a great experience because of the teacher to student ratio. The instructors were able to provide more one-on-one teaching,” he relays.

His ample knowledge, skill, and experience have opened doors for Brian and paved the way to a prominent career. Before working at InterContinental Mark Hopkins, Brian was the Executive Chef of the Hilton, Oakland Airport, and Spin Global. Brian also worked for almost five years at two Marriott Hotels in San Francisco—training staff, developing menus, conceptualizing, and designing for one of the 8th largest Marriott brand hotels―Marriott Marquis San Francisco—4 outlets Bin55, View Lounge, M-Lounge, and Mission Street Pantry. The hotel consisted of 1,500 rooms and provided 40 million dollars in food and beverage revenue. Brian also worked at the Hilton of Buffalo Thunder Resort in Santa Fe, New Mexico, trained by renowned Chef Mark Miller where he supervised 30 employees, administered recruitment and retention of supervisors.

Brian proves to be the soul of Top of the Mark who provides the overall dining experience matched with opulence, sophistication, and beauty. The cozy ambiance harmonized with its 360-degree panoramic view of San Francisco welcomes you with open arms, adds flavor to your experience, and complements the mood. His signature style blends sumptuous culinary dishes with vibrant aesthetics that stimulate your senses with a powerful and everlasting statement.

Food and the art of cooking have always been a component of Brian’s life―he is at his happiest when creating new recipes. Brian’s most prized and sentimental possessions are his knives and kitchen tools. “I’ve experienced and learned so much with my tools. My greatest influencers are Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsey who have achieved enormous success by utilizing business principles while incorporating their unique style and culinary talent,” he states.

Since fine dining is never complete without a bottle of wine to share in the presence of friends and family, Brian acknowledges the value of this beverage. “ My favorite wine is by Ben Marco Malbec. My wine knowledge is moderate and familiar with the fundamentals of pairing wine with food. There are seven simple rules to pairing food with the wine which is as follows:

Keep food and wine similar weight.

  1. Match flavor intensity with character.
  2. Think about the acidity.
  3. Gain awareness of mixing salt with tannins.
  4. Match bitter tannins with rich and heavy foods
  5. Serve wine as sweet as the food being served.
  6. Spicy food needs spicy wine,” he quips.

When asked what is an example of a springtime menu Brian would prepare for me, his eyes lit up, and offered the following selection:

Smoked Quail Soup with Ancho Chile Broth

Chioggia Beet Salad with Mixed Herbs Hazel Nuts, Poblano, and Feta

Grilled Lamb Chops with Mint Mole Verde and Bean Confit with Cilantro and Lime

Sea Salted Caramel Flan with Pine Nuts and Pan Dulce Crumble

Grilled Mayan Hangar Steak Achiote, Roasted Poblano Mashed Potatoes, Delicata Squash, Southwest Chimichurri by Chef Brian Sepulveda for Mesa & Bar, "Top Chefs Of San Francisco" Special Edition
Grilled Mayan Hangar Steak Achiote, Roasted Poblano Mashed Potatoes, Delicata Squash, Southwest Chimichurri by Chef Brian Sepulveda for Mesa & Bar, “Top Chefs Of San Francisco” Special Edition

“Since imports and international travel came to a standstill in 2020, the trend regarding food and wine pairings has enabled us to rely on wine and food choices that are locally available,” he informs.

To celebrate his accolades, Brian has surpassed employee satisfaction scores for three consecutive years and rated number one in sales for the West region of Marriott hotels in 2014 and 2015. During the height of the pandemic and aside from his responsibilities at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins, Brian provided leadership support for two and a half months to the InterContinental Cleveland, since they had no executive chef and only a minimal staff.

An inspiring career has bolstered Brian to excel in all his roles of overseeing a high-volume kitchen, purchasing/inventory, training staff, conceptualizing menus, cultivating productivity, and ensuring quality and control measures. Thirteen years of experience has sharpened Brian’s leadership skills and team-building efforts, shaped his engagement with the customers and guest relations, and provided a knack for rendering good revenue. This sums up to providing the best fine dining experience, hotel restaurant management, and catering you could ever ask for.

Brian Sepulveda for Mesa & Bar, "Top Chefs Of San Francisco" Special Edition
Brian Sepulveda for Mesa & Bar, “Top Chefs Of San Francisco” Special Edition

As the winner of the Carte Blanche which allows you to dine in any city in the world, Brian has chosen Copenhagen, Denmark known for being one of the finest food in the world. Brian has traveled around the globe which has exposed him to various cultures and a variety of food that has served as an inspiration in his art of cooking. “Peru is on my bucket list since it’s an amazing country with a rich history and culture,” he says. If Brian was given the opportunity to cook in anyone’s kitchen, his first choice would be, Gordon Ramsey. “It would be an honor and privilege to learn from one of the best in the industry.” He smiles.

As this outstanding gentleman forges ahead in his career, he is blessed to be surrounded by a wonderful family that loves and supports him. When he’s not working, Brian enjoys traveling, snowboarding, golfing, bow hunting, visiting amusement parks, and spending time with family and friends. To keep a work/life balance, Brian manages to find humor in any situation and savors his sweet indulgence―Chocolate.

Brian Sepulveda is no ordinary chef—he is an artist, chemist, analyst, and leader integrated all together to be the best version of himself. He has explored opportunities, spreading his wings high so he can maximize his potential to create, serve, and enjoy the art of food and share his love, passion, and spirit with everyone he meets.