Chef Nancy Oakes is a pioneer of haute American cuisine. Her unparalleled standard of excellence and accessible yet groundbreaking dishes have kept diners returning for decades. Chef Oakes grew up in Northern California and began her restaurant career in San Francisco as a hostess, first at the popular Carnelian Room, and later at Alexis Restaurant on Nob Hill. Her passion for understanding all of the moving parts of owning and operating a restaurant began with those front of the house positions. Her first experience in the kitchen was on the San Francisco waterfront at The Barnacle, which served American classics and San Francisco favorites. Following The Barnacle, she commanded the kitchen at Pat O’Shea’s for the next decade, creating comforting food and garnering many loyal customers. Chef Oakes then opened the much acclaimed L’Avenue in 1988. L’Avenue proved to be the beginning of her much deserved public recognition and success for the years to come.
In 1993, Chef Oakes opened Boulevard Restaurant with Pat Kuleto. This celebrated establishment has earned Chef Oakes numerous local, national and international accolades, nominations and awards; including Zagat’s San Francisco Bay Area’s Most Popular Restaurant, the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef in California 2001 and Outstanding Restaurant in the United States 2012, as well as the Filiale des Etats-Unis in France.
Chef Oakes co-wrote Boulevard: The Cookbook with Pam Mazzola in 2005, which was nominated for awards from both the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. In 2010, Chef Oakes opened Prospect Restaurant with Pam Mazzola and Kathy King in San Francisco’s flourishing South of Market/Embarcadero neighborhood. Located at the base of the Infinity Towers, it is a warm and modern urban environment, with high service standards and exceptional cuisine. Chef Oakes’s energy and sense of community are reflected in the time and talent she has devoted to cooking for charitable organizations. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors for Meals on Wheels of San Francisco, she has been Gala Chef Chair for the organization’s annual fundraiser for 13 years. She enjoys continuous involvement with numerous other philanthropies, including Share Our Strength, The San Francisco Food Bank, The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, Make-a-Wish Foundation, Auction Napa Valley, Alex’s Lemonade, and Maitri Compassionate Care.