From San Francisco:
Fashion and the Pursuit of One's Passion
Susan Dyer Reynolds
26-year-old Basque native may be San Francisco's youngest restaurateur,
but he's had a lifetime of experience. Mattin Noblia started cooking
at the age of 5, and, after an apprenticeship with chef Dominique
Jolie and other learning opportunities, opened his first restaurant,
Basque, in 2004 at the ripe old age of 23. At Iluna Basque,
located in North Beach, Noblia serves up traditional Basque cuisine
and features local resources such as crabs, prawns, mussels, tuna
and other seafood. Menu items include tapas offerings such as
duck rillette empanada and marinated lamb brochettes with rosemary,
and "petite entrées" such as rib-eye steak on
a bed of roasted garlic and Basque chicken and chorizo sauté.
Noblia recently sat down with The Food Paper’s Susan Reynolds
for a little heart to heart.
Food Paper: Who or what was your biggest cooking influence?
Mattin Noblia: My father. I grew up cooking with him from
the time I was five years old. My family opened a restaurant when
I was seven. The only time my brother wasn’t around was
when we were cooking. Now he’s an architect.
Why did you become a chef?
MN: I’ve wanted to be a chef since I was five. It’s
the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. At fourteen I went
to culinary school, then worked around France
with some big chefs for about four years. I wanted to travel,
to see the world. My mom grew up with Gerald [Hirigoyen] and he
said, “Come to San Francisco—I am opening a new restaurant
So I came to San Francisco and cooked for Gerald there.
Proudest cooking or restaurant moment?
MN: I am very proud of having my own restaurant. My friends
said they wouldn’t have a business for a million dollars—they
thought I was too young for all the responsibility, but I don’t
think about age. The landlord said that I seemed mature, and he
gave me a chance. We opened on February 23, 2004. I was 23.
TFP: Favorite ingredient?
MN: I love asparagus—white, green—I love
Least favorite ingredient?
MN: There is nothing I don't like. Actually, tofu.
If you weren't a chef, what would you be?
MN: A model [smiles], or a fashion designer.
701 Union St.
San Francisco, CA 94133
Dyer Reynolds is the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Northside