Our chef's are hands-on and hearts-in.
Tommy Vargas is an international chef with humble roots. Originally from San Francisco, California, Vargas was raised in a large Mexican-American family with an appetite for fresh, seasonal ingredients and large parties. When he wasn’t in his family’s kitchen, he was learning to make sopes in his grandparent’s restaurant, the Mexico City Grill, in the heart of the Mission District.
Early Influences: Fresh, Flavorful, Fun
Vargas was greatly influenced by the complex flavors of his family’s regional cuisine. But, he fascinated by international flavors, too, and has travelled extensively through the culinary regions of Mexico, France, Italy, Greece, and throughout California. Some of his greatest teachers have been local ingredients and delicacies: the open-air markets in Mexico and Europe, the crepes in the streets of Paris, the risotto in Florence, the tapas is Seville, and the savory bouillabaisse of Provence, among others.
Vargas carries that youthful curiosity about fresh flavor and authentic dining into his approach to food today. He believes food brings people together; good food—made with care, love, and passion—makes for an incredibly delicious and rich shared experience.
A Well-Traveled Palette
Some of his most memorable and formative international cooking experiences include shrimp, fresh-caught in the Sea of Cortez, and cooked in a cast-iron skillet right on the beach; simple, local fresh eggs poached in a premier Cru Pinot Noir after harvesting grapes in France; and his current passion, piping fresh sourdough bread made with just flour, water, salt, yeast, care, and patience.
The Culinary Ladder: Local Chef to Master Teacher
Vargas grew up as the local baker (chocolate chip cookies, lemon meringue, and pancakes, especially). He went on to get a job in a small café specializing in European food and worked his way up the culinary ladder through various catering companies and bakeries. Vargas has taught at a vocational cooking school on Treasure Island and for the Draeger’s Culinary Program, where he specialized in regional Mexican cooking. Through teaching, he gained a deep appreciation for giving back to the community by helping others to fulfill their culinary dreams.
A Customer-Centric Vision
Vargas is proud to join Ladle & Leaf and fully supports the company’s commitment to making delicious, healthy dishes with fresh, season, local, and organic ingredients. For Vargas, customers are guests. International markets offer unlimited flavor-spiration. And quality ingredients are everything. WHENEVER POSSIBLE. WE SUPPORT LOCAL FARMS, DAIRIES AND BAKERIES WHILE LOOKING TO GLOBAL CUISINES FOR FLAVOR INSPIRATION. WE ALSO AIM TO BE SUSTAINABLE IN EVERYTHING WE DO.
I’d say Ladle & Leaf and I are a perfect pairing, Vargas says.