SOMA resident Joseph Manzare is a native of the Bronx, NY, and started working in restaurants in his early teens. By 17, he was telling people he was getting ready to open his own place, and got a college degree in business. After that, he cooked at the five-star, five-diamond Hilton in Woodcliff in New Jersey. Then he moved to Los Angeles to apprentice with Jean-Francois Mettigner at L’Orangerie. Manzare spent all his spare time working at Spago, and came to the attention of Wolfgang Puck, who brought him on full-time. After two years at Spago, he traveled to Italy and spent ten months working at San Domenico in Imola. Returning to the States, he again joined with Wolfgang Puck to be opening Sous Chef at Postrio in San Francisco, where he met his wife Mary Klingbeil, who was working as a waitress. Manzare explained, “I was kind of a loner chef that Wolfgang sent up to help get Postrio started. Mary and I met there 23 years ago.”
Soon, he was offered the position of Executive Chef at 44 at the Royalton in New York, where he was nominated “Rising Star Chef of American Cuisine” for the James Beard Awards. He was Chef at Granita in Malibu when he decided the time had come to launch his own restaurant. In 1997, Manzare and his wife and partner, Mary opened Globe in San Francisco, serving up American-Italian food. The couple then opened Globe Venice Beach in 2000. He and Klingbeil opened the Italian spots Zuppa and the (now shuttered) Joey & Eddie’s. Pescheria was their seafood spot that had a brief run in Noe Valley. Hecho, is their latest venture, a Tokyo style sushi and robata with a tequila bar and mariachi bands.
What sort of food experiences have your three sons had growing up around your restaurants?
Max (age 10) likes sushi, just like me. That’s probably because we’ve been going out together since he was a kid. I started taking him to Nobu’s original restaurant in L.A. when he was 2 yrs old. It was the start of our boys night out tradition. He has been to every restaurant in NYC, L.A. and all over the world. He comes into Hecho. Friday is still our boys night out. First, we’ll have sushi and then he’ll help me do skewers at the robata station. He’s done a lot of events, benefits, and comes to L.A. We do 1000s of the robatas, and it adds up to a lot of yakitori little skewers.
Mary was more protective when Wiley was born five years ago. We didn't take him out as much, so he’s still a little amazed and looking around when we go out to eat these days. August is 1 1/2 and with three boys, you can imagine what it’s like trying to get out.
Hecho is where you spend most of your time these days. What’s new there?
We have chef Sachio Kojima, who is the main guy. Sachio has a kind of infamy among chefs and the Japanese community. When he owned Kabuto A&S, on any given night, you’d probably be eating with five other chefs. He gets up at 6:30 and starts texting me and is usually there at Hecho ‘til 11 or so each night. I try to get him to take a day off, but he won’t. That means that if he doesn’t take a day off, I don’t either (laughs). We talked about me giving him some ownership of the restaurant, and for now we're taking it step-by-step.