Joanne Weir is a bona-fide celebrity chef, having recently completed 39 episodes for her PBS cooking series, “Joanne Weir’s Cooking Confidence”, where she turns her home kitchen into the classroom as she works side-by-side with a real-world student for a hands-on cooking lesson. This series currently airs nationwide and it marks Joanne’s seventh season on PBS.
Prior to launching her publishing, television and teaching career, from 1985 to 1990, Joanne worked at Chez Panisse, one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the United States. Joanne’s first book, From Tapas to Meze (Crown, 1994) was selected by Julia Child as one of her 12 personal favorites out of 1000 cookbooks published that year. Her talents were then showcased in the PBS series “Weir Cooking in the Wine Country”, shot on location in the Napa Valley. The companion book, “Weir’s More Cooking in the Wine Country” (Simon & Schuster, 2001) went on to garner a James Beard Award nomination and an IACP Cookbook Award nomination.
Joanne’s adopted hometown of San Francisco was the culinary setting for “Weir Cooking in the City”, her 26-part PBS series and companion book (Simon & Schuster, 2004) for which she received a James Beard Award for Best Cookbook. A completely revised version of From Tapas to Meze (Ten Speed Press, 2004) won the 2004 Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Mediterranean Cookbook. Joanne’s cookbook, Wine Country Cooking (Ten Speed Press, 2008) is the companion book to the most recent season of “Joanne Weir’s Cooking Class”. Joanne’s most recent book is an exciting all-in-one reference guide, TEQUILA: A Guide to Types, Flights, Cocktails and Bites (Ten Speed Press, 2009). This book will be a significant resource for Copita. You can purchase your own copy and Joanne will be glad to sign it for you when you visit Copita. For more information regarding Joanne, please visit: http://www.joanneweir.com/index.php
Larry always dreamed of having a Mexican restaurant in Sausalito since he moved there 40 years ago.
Larry co-founded Spectrum Foods, where he served as Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer. Under Larry's direction, Spectrum created 14 restaurants in Northern and Southern California, including Chianti, MacArthur Park, Harry's Bar and American Grill, Prego and Guaymas. In 1984, Saga Corporation acquired Spectrum Foods, and from that time until he joined Il Fornaio in 1987, Larry served as President of the Saga Restaurant Group, which included Stuart Anderson's Black Angus, Velvet Turtle, Spoons, Hotel Food Services and the newly-acquired Spectrum Foods Restaurants.
Larry joined Il Fornaio (America) Corporation as Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer in January 1987. Larry resigned as president in 1995, Chief Executive Officer in 1998, and as Chairman of the Board in July, 2001, when Il Fornaio was acquired in a leveraged buy-out. Under Larry's leadership, Il Fornaio grew to 25 restaurants serving premium quality, authentic regional Italian cuisine. In 1998, Larry became one of a select group of restaurant industry leaders to receive the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association's Foodservice Operator of the year and Gold Plate Award.
Larry has provided the overall management for the design, construction, opening, and successful operation of Poggio restaurant at 777 Bridgeway in Sausalito. Poggio has been a consistent three star restaurant and named a Top 100 Bay Area restaurant the last four years.
Chef Gonzalo Rivera brings a rich culinary background and spirit with him, ranging from his grandmother’s kitchen to working with Michael Mina as he grew his empire and where he learned Mexican cooking. Born and raised in Gridley, California, he grew up with his parents and grandmother, all from Southern Mexico.
Beginning at the age of four, he traveled north through California, up through Oregon and Washington to harvest for the seasons’ ingredients. Later, Rivera moved to San Francisco to attend culinary school and take on an externship with Michael Mina. From 2003 – 2009, Rivera held the position of Executive Chef for Mina Group, working at Mina restaurants that range from Michael Mina Restaurant at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco for three years to then Nemi Restaurant in Mexico City for two years, which was named “Top 23 restaurants in Mexico” from Travel + Leisure. Prior to that, Rivera was Sous Chef at Michael Mina Las Vegas, Bellagio Casino and Hotel, as well as Sous Chef at Aqua Restaurant and Pisces Restaurant in San Francisco.
Most recently, Rivera was Executive Chef at Capella, a luxury resort in Ixtapa, Mexico that garnered #1 boutique hotel in the Pacific with a food score of 97.2 by Conde Nast Traveler. At Capella, Gonzalo made a return to Mexican flavors and was able to develop a menu close to his cultural heritage. During his time in Mexico, Rivera met his wife who is from Morelia Michoacán, Mexico and they spent over five years there before moving back to the Bay Area.
In 2012, Brian was offered the chance to come over the Golden Gate Bridge to sunny Sausalito and put his love of Mexican food and beverage to work. Brian is thrilled to work every day with the most exciting team in the Bay Area, and the best tortillas, produce and 100% blue agave tequilas on the planet! In his free time Brian still loves seeking out new chiles, and enjoying his own brand of bird watching (Ravens and Orioles that is)!
Growing up in Baltimore, Brian scarcely imagined that he would one day be the General Manager of a Mexican restaurant in Sausalito. The youngest of four boys, Brian is of Armenian, German, Scottish and Irish descent. In other words: American. His parents always encouraged intellectual curiosity in all subjects. Their tales of trips to Mexico while living in Tucson and of the limitless bounty of California piqued his interest in what, at the time, were distant and exotic lands.
Fast-forward to college and Brian was working in restaurants while studying for an English degree in chilly Boston. At some point he realized that he was far more inspired by food, wine and spirits, than by discussions of the death of the novel in the post-modern era.
After a cross-country trek in his ’94 Honda Civic hatchback, Brian arrived in San Francisco in 2003. While working as a server under Staffan Terje, chef/owner of Perbacco and barbacco trattoria, he learned how the ideals of Italian food could be iterated in the idiom of local wine and produce. Then it was on to the iconic Fleur-de-Lys, San Francisco’s temple of French cuisine, where Chantal and Hubert Keller, Maurice Rouas and Marcus Garcia provided a graduate course in hospitality for Brian.
In 2007, Brian finally made the leap of faith into management when his friends, Jon and Rebecca Rader, offered him the chance to become the Dining Room Manager and Wine Director of Frascati, Russian Hill’s venerable neighborhood institution. Brian was the steward of an award winning wine program, which focused on small-production, family-owned wineries from California and around the world. In his free time, he literally devoured the beautiful Mexican cuisine and culture of his beloved Mission District, stocking his tiny apartment with all sorts of dried chiles and huitlacoche, often, to his patient wife’s dismay.
Alberto is excited to join Copita’s management team and is thrilled to feel that his life has come full circle, once again enjoying simple homespun Mexican cooking pulled from the fields.
A native of Jalisco, Mexico, Alberto grew up in the land of mariachi and tequila. He was raised in his abuelas’ cocina (grandma’s kitchen), where they lived on homegrown produce, milk from their own cows, and homemade tortillas with chile de molcajete (chile made with mortar and pestle). Alberto’s childhood was defined by the abuelas’ cooking, one used wood to cook, while the other used gas, and they both used the freshest produce, literally, pulling it from the garden.
When he was 16 years old, Alberto left Mexico to come to the USA and finish his studies. After arriving in Redwood City, CA, he began bussing tables at Florentine Restaurant. He fell intensely in love with the industry and after a year and a half Alberto accepted a managing position at Florentine. That was followed by the role as assistant general manager at Armadillo Willy’s and then as a server at California Café, in Palo Alto. After his first week at California Café the manager learned Alberto’s story and offered him a full time position as a server, private events captain and bartender, and from there he was promoted to supervisor.
Eventually Alberto left California Café to work at Scala’s Bistro at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco as a server and private events director. When the General Manager departed to join Copita, Alberto was invited to follow. After his first visit, Alberto was transported back to his childhood—remembering his abuelas and enjoying good tequila, homemade tortillas and chile de molcajete.
Amy has been a successful restaurateur on two continents and in some of the most competitive restaurant cities here in the United States, including Chicago, San Francisco and currently in Sausalito as Managing Partner of Poggio.
Amy has broad experience leading high-volume restaurants for the Kimpton Group (at Mossant Bistro, Atwood Café, both in Chicago) and at Grand Café in San Francisco. For the past five years at Poggio, Amy has directed all front-of-the-house operations for this highly regarded restaurant. Amy will oversee the front-of-the-house and day-to-day operations of Copita.