Faces Behind the Food: Chef August Schuchman

We sat down with August to get the inside scoop on how his experience has been thus far. Here’s what he had to say:

Zesty is a collection of passionate individuals, many of whom are firmly entrenched in the Bay Area food and hospitality scene who strive to provide memorable food experiences and world class service to clients. Our restaurant partners are the cornerstone to our business, which is why we are so selective when choosing partners and curating the perfect menu.They provide our clients with flavorful dishes featuring cuisines from all over the world, and we in turn provide them with a steady flow of orders. We facilitate increased business to restaurants during their off-peak hours, and the partnership results in some pretty stellar success for both parties. Our restaurant partners love what they do and that becomes quite evident in the food they thoughtfully prepare for our clients.

Zesty catered lunches are much more than your average office lunch – your meals are prepared with love and healthful ingredients by chefs who truly care about what’s on your plate. In this series you’ll get a glimpse into the kitchens of some of Zesty’s most loved restaurants and meet the faces behind the food.

Today we’re in the kitchen of August Schuchman, the executive chef behind the dynamic restaurant duo Woodhouse Fish Company and West of Pecos. Both restaurants have been working with Zesty for just over a year and have been wildly successful!

We sat down with August to get the inside scoop on how his experience has been thus far. Here’s what he had to say:

Zesty: How did you get started in the restaurant industry?

Chef: I was surrounded my whole life by interesting food. Both of my parents experimented with food from multiple cultures (Indian, Chinese, Korean) and offal such as cow’s tongue and fish heads. I started learning about food young and it was always an interest, though my career goals were to follow science and biology. During school I worked as a personal chef and took care of the family’s children – it was during that time that I found cooking to be a career possibility. During summer break I toured the California Culinary Academy on Polk Street and fell in love, I have been cooking ever since then. I started culinary school over 16 years ago!

Zesty: What inspires you and the food you make?

Chef: I found myself very inspired to create [food] when I first went to a farmers market. The fairly mundane process of ordering from a sheet is what we do most of the time, but farmers markets are the place my imagination comes alive. I get very excited to pair the season’s best with classic techniques and see what the result is. Over time the combinations get more refined and I am inspired to try new combinations and techniques.

Zesty: What is your signature dish?

Chef: I don’t think I could narrow it down to one single dish, but I am most well known for fish cookery and oysters. Some dishes that I am proud of are the churros and enchiladas at West of Pecos, and the grilled squid and pastas at Woodhouse Fish Co.

Zesty: What do you like most about working with Zesty?

Chef: Working with Zesty is so much fun! Kelle [Culinary Partnership Manager] and Heather [Registered Dietitian] are so much fun to work with on crunching numbers, refining recipes, and developing new food together. I also really enjoy seeing all the drivers come in and out of the restaurant – our crew has developed a very friendly relationship with all of them and it wouldn’t be a normal day without all those thermal bags and black liners making their appearance at the restaurant. Of course this list wouldn’t be half complete without mentioning how great Zesty has been for our business. We get lots of customers in the restaurant who mention that they have eaten our food at their office lunch.

Zesty: How does working with Zesty allow you and your business to thrive in this crazy saturated market in SF?

Chef: Our restaurant is much busier in the morning hours thanks to Zesty. We haven’t served lunch since opening due to the makeup of our neighborhood, but Zesty changed all that and it happened so fast! Not only can I hire more people and give full schedules to our current staff, but it has made out restaurant sales more robust and has brought our name to a new set of potential diners.

Zesty: RDs work with restaurants to optimize the quality of the dishes we serve. Are there any dishes that you made healthier just for Zesty?

Chef: Working on the initial menu for Zesty I was focusing on combining healthy, fresh ingredients with existing West of Pecos recipes. I am really happy that I did because we not only created an offering that we feel is healthy and wholesome, but it helped us rethink our restaurant menu. Many of the techniques we use to bring a healthier offering to Zesty have permeated to the rest of our preparations in the restaurant. For example, we now steam the tortillas in our enchiladas instead of frying them, both for Zesty and in the restaurant.

Thank you so much for sharing August, we appreciate you more than you know!

You can find Woodhouse Fish Company at their two locations in Pacific Heights and Market St. and on social media at @woodhousefish. You can find West of Pecos in the heart of the Mission on Valencia street and on social media at @westofpecos.

Have you eaten at either of August’s restaurants or had them catered in your office?

Heather Pavlik

Senior Dietitian