Bianca Jimenez Rivera
Bianca grew up in a restaurant family. She was drawn from the East Coast to the
Bay Area after graduating from Syracuse and, after a stint in corporate America,
gave in to the inevitability of getting back to her roots in food and bev. She spent
some time working with a San Francisco wine importer before getting back into the
restaurant world. Most recently she helped open Charlie Palmer’s Burritt Room near
Union Square and assists in running the wine program there.
When did your love affair with wine begin?
I began dabbling in wine at Ame Restaurant. The management team there was always
so encouraging and humble. They eventually invited me to assist with the wine program. I got into
blind tasting and really started focusing on wine.
Favorite places to eat/drink/play?
Drink: Cocktails - The Elixir, Wine - Hotel Biron
Play: 49 Geary, 4 floors of art galleries.
What is one quirky thing no one knows about you?
I love late night bike rides through the streets of San Francisco.
If you were throwing a dinner party, who would you invite?
I prefer small intimate gatherings, I would only invite two people. First, Ferran Adrià
he’s a genius, innovator and wild mad scientist. The second guest of honor would
be Aubert de Villaine, winemaker for Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. His humble approach
to wine making is fascinating: “What is taken out of the soil is given back, there
are no chemical fertilizers, treatments or many of the modern wine-making gadgets
available to the contemporary vigneron. An example is the reintroduction, a few
years ago, of horses to replace the use of heavy machinery in the vineyard. The
gentle action of the horses' hooves, Mr. de Villaine says, ‘does not compact the
soil as much.’”. It is always a privilege when I am able sample the wine.
Who do you adore as a style icon?
I hate to be cliché, but Sarah Jessica Parker. She is not afraid to take risks or make mistakes when it comes to fashion.
What do you love most about your job?
I love the fact that I meet new people every day. Working in a restaurant there
is never a dull moment, whether it’s a interacting with a guest, jumping behind
the bar, or simply re-organizing the wine cellar.
Favorite city to visit?
New York City! I am always on a culinary adventure when I visit. There are so many
new restaurants to try and so much innovation in the kitchen.
What is your current style obsession?
Charles and Ray Eames - architects, designers, filmmakers. Their designs are timeless, minimal, and innovative.
Who is your palate icon?
I don’t think it is a person, rather a style. San Francisco has so much to offer.
The seasonality of restaurant menus and the freshness they are able to offer their
guests is what captures me. The cuisine here is simple, fresh, and humble.
Who is your favorite musician/band?
Right now, I’m listening to Bon Iver.
Who has influenced you most?
My family. I grew up in a restaurant, in a hospitality driven family. My grandfather
owned a restaurant, my father owned a restaurant, my mother was always hosting intimate
dinners with friends, and my brother went to culinary school; being in the restaurant
business runs in my blood.
Any closing words of wisdom?
Taste! If you're really interested in wine you learn the most when you take your time
and taste and analyze for yourself. Books can only tell you so much, it’s not until
you experience a wine that you understand that it is something beyond grape juice.