Santa Cruz is jam-packed with excellent eateries from tasty and quick $2 bites to multi-course, unforgettable meals. But some restaurants stand out above others thanks to the chefs who whip up their culinary creations for us lucky patrons. It’s tough to narrow it down, but here are five chefs who really shine!
Beverlie Terra, Chaminade
Beverlie Terra brings her family background and her love of using fresh, local ingredients to the exquisite dishes she prepares at . Her grandparents owned restaurants in the Bay Area; her family made all their own pastas; and as a young girl in Santa Clara, she did much of the cooking for her single working mother, often collecting field greens from a nearby orchard. Today she continues that tradition by working with local farms and wineries to incorporate seasonal items into her meals at Linwood’s Restaurant at Chaminade.
Adam Becerra, Coldwater Bar & Grill
Coldwater Bar & Grill owner Suzi Reed calls Adam Becerra “a master in the kitchen” who is full of passion for his cooking. And it shows in the comforting, inventive creations that come out of his kitchen. You’ll recognize many old favorites on the menu, but when you taste Becerra’s versions, you’ll be enjoying a new experience. Everything is cooked to perfection, from the seared ahi, shrimp or grilled skirt steak to the ultimate gourmet grilled sandwich on sourdough with brie, caramelized onion and jalapeño jelly.
Ryan Isaak, Laili
When Laili opened its doors in October of 2010, the restaurant was an immediate success, thanks in large part to the talents of chef Ryan Isaak. Taking the traditional recipes handed to him by owner Afghan-American Wafi Amin, Isaak made them his own by adding his own accents and expertise to the food that stretches along the famed Silk Road. Don’t pass up the dumplings, which are lighter and tastier than you’ll find in any Chinese restaurant. Each dish is infused with an incredible array of flavors to be savored with each and every bite.
Telos Delosil, Gabriella Café
philosophy of creating menus with foods from local suppliers is the impetus behind owner and chef Telos Delosil’s excellent cuisine. Farm to table dining is what it’s all about in Delosil’s kitchen, and his talents have been recognized. In lofty company with two-star Michelin restaurant in Los Gatos and the now-closed Theo’s in Soquel, Sunset Magazine chose Gabriella as one of three to visit when touring the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Damani Thomas, Oswald Restaurant
Damani Thomas brings elegant comfort food with a German twist to the fashionable, hip and popular Oswald in downtown Santa Cruz. As a native of Oakland, Thomas found his way to Santa Cruz over 15 years ago to become chef at Oswald. After a hiatus and a reopening of the restaurant, Thomas is now co-owner and Executive Chef cooking up delicious unique entrées such as roasted pork tenderloin with cabbage, spatzle and tea-poached prunes or mushroom bread pudding with sautéed nettles and meyer lemon, as well as comfort bar food. You’ll probably find him most Wednesdays at the Santa Cruz Farmers Market shopping for the freshest ingredients for his menus.