Within a minute of meeting chef Todd Shoberg of Piatti in Mill Valley, one gets the feeling that “carpe diem” could have been sewn onto his baby blanket. The former pro mountain biker, current photographer (check out his stuff on Flickr; it’s good) and newly imported professional chef has an infectious good nature and is no couch potato. In less than a year at Piatti, he’s already led the charge toward making the restaurant green certified. Born in the small port town of Grand Haven on Lake Michigan, Shoberg considers Marin his home.
Where do you live now and why? Mill Valley. I like the redwoods, the proximity to Mount Tamalpais and the ocean, and the quiet quality of life people seem to adhere to.
Is your cooking influenced by your upbringing? Not at all!
How did you land at Piatti? Luckily, Chris Fernandez, Piatti’s culinary director, who is a great teacher, chef and friend and a Marin resident, has a belief in my ability to cook. He opened Poggio as chef/partner and has worked as chef at many other Bay Area greats, including Cypress Club, Oliveto and Stars. He hired me last year.
What changes have you made to the menu? Piatti’s philosophy is “Italian-inspired cuisine.” In Italy, the people go to the markets and pick up what is fresh from local farms to make dinner. Beautiful and simple! So basically what I have done is scaled down the dinner menu to include all the greats that have brought people back for years, and I’ve added a nightly changing “market menu.” My sous chef Sebastian Miller and I loosely write up the menu at the farmers’ market and then refine it for dinner service.
How often are you at the farmers’ market? Sebastian and I are there three times a week; we especially love the Marin Civic Center market on Thursdays. We get coffee and Belgian waffles with Nutella, we buy a hefty load of the most beautiful produce, and then we get a quick Frisbee toss in near the ponds—a great way to start a 12-hour workday.
Where do you suggest friends from out of town ride? I lead them up Railroad Grade, or Camp Tamarancho in Fairfax, or the Headlands. Tennessee Cove is one of my most treasured spots in the Bay Area. If you stay out there until sunset, you will encounter the Owl. I’m sure some of you know about this “owl.” Sitting in the trees, always, at sunset—amazing.
Do you have a website for your photos? I promise after this becomes public that if you find me at Piatti, and are interested, I will show you my self-published book of photographs. I shoot from time to time, in a traditional medium format using a Mamiya 645 camera, shooting chrome (slide or transparency) film.
Are you married or in a relationship? Follow me on Facebook! Kidding aside, as some of the wait staff at the restaurant say, “single and ready to mingle!”
If you weren’t working, where would you go out for pasta? Well, I know this is a Marin magazine, but … I would go to A16, Delfina or even Picco in Larkspur; Jared is doing some nice food over there.
What is your favorite drink, and where do you like to drink it? I have some favorites: beer and Underberg at Mill Valley Beerworks; Four Roses Bourbon Manhattan at Nopa or the Alembic in S.F.; and Fernet at home in front of a hot fireplace!