Photo: Scott Youkilis with his son
I have been in San Francisco long enough to know a good restaurant when I see one. And I am not talking about the neon-lit signs or a luxurious ambiance. After all, rarely do you saunter into an eatery just to enjoy the atmosphere. Truth be told, the food in most of San Francisco averagely-priced restaurants leaves a lot to be admired. Sometimes, either the food served is too little (ahem!) or just plain without any appetizing touches whatsoever. But what happens when a celebrated chef with a long, winding history in the restaurant business decides just to pack up and open a brewery on the other side of the town? Well, I had to find out.
You see, for those who don’t know Chef Scott Youkilis, he is one of the few inspirational business and restaurateur figures I’ve come across in the past few years. Scott, unlike other chefs today, wasn’t born in a gifted culinary family. And neither did he fly overseas to Italy or France to learn at the feet of self-proclaimed European chef gurus how to whip a mouth-watering Crostata or Gnocchi. Chef Scott has nurtured and raised his brand through sheer hard work, ambition, and passion.
I first came across his restaurant known as Maverick on 17th street during my campus heydays. At that time, I thought that the chef in charge of the eatery was in a stiff competition with another one two blocks away, the Hog & Rocks. Reason? The food in Maverick was just as awesome and finger-licking good as that prepared in Hog & Rocks. In fact, the menus were almost similar, if anything. But little did I know that both restaurants were the products of the genius that the budding Chef Scott Youkilis would later become.
However, as fate would have it, Youkilis fell out with one of his colleague Chef Ryan Ostler after a volley of a few disagreements. The rift between the two grew so wide that Scott Youkilis had to leave Mavericks for good. On retrospect, 2014 might have been a tumultuous year for Scott, but I surely relished each and every helping of barbecue trappings I bought from that place. Not to mention the signature meatloaf sandwiches that always had me hankering for more weekend-after-weekend.
Before the rift between Ryan and Scott had worsened, Chef Youkilis was still steering the ship at Hog & Rocks across the street, although his absence at Mavericks was almost palpable. In fact, it didn’t take long for me to notice that the food texture was a little off, although they still kept the menu. All of a sudden, the meatloaf was ‘awkwardly messy’ and the pulled-pork sandwiches no longer had the oriental aftertaste that I was already used to.
After asking around, I came to realize later that the Chef had been missing from the Maverick’s main scene for a couple of weeks, and he wasn’t planning on coming ‘home’ anytime soon. I understand that the October fire last year at Mavericks was the proverbial last straw that broke the donkey’s back. Either way, there is no doubt that it will take some time before someone fills his shoes (or is it apron?) as expertly as he did at Mavericks.