Top to Bottom is quick-fire interview series where we show off our cutest friends in the world of food.
Jon Fancey started bagging groceries at 14 at his hometown Ohio location of the now defunct grocery store Big Bear (nothing is coincidental). While attending college, he worked in several kitchens and specialty food stores. Later, an academic research job in New York City led him back to food. He spent the following years working in kitchens, catering events and manning high end cheese and charcuterie counters across the city. Today, Jon works for Bi-Rite Markets in San Francisco, curating cheese selections for the Bay Area institution. When he's not working or cooking dinner for his adorable other half, you can find him cuddling with his British Shorthair cat or drinking cheap beer in SOMA.
We got Mr. Fancey to answer some of our burning questions:
How did you get into cheese?
There are two requirements for working in cheese retail – knife skills & a desire to absorb (somewhat useless) knowledge. I spent years dicing vegetables in kitchens & studying marginally important historical topics – so deciding to pursue cheese in my late 20s was much easier than choosing between culinary or graduate school. Cheese is also one of the tastiest conservations of an agricultural product and most all of them have an amazing story – it’s really kept me engaged and is responsible for turning me into the food professional that I am today.
What would be your last meal?
I grew up with my very proper & conservative grandparents in Cleveland – I spent my early years wearing khakis & cardigans and eating my grandmother’s Midwestern comfort food. My last meal would definitely be one of her Sunday suppers – my favorite was pot roast with mashed potatoes & succotash. She’s the only person I’ve seen make a flawless angel food cake from scratch – I’d want that for my last dessert.
Favorite spots in San Francisco to eat at?
- Breakfast at Dottie’s on Street – one of us is ordering my favorite plate: Black Bean Cakes with Poached Eggs, Grilled Cornbread, and Home Fries.
- Late Morning Coffee at Sightglass – the best cup of iced coffee in town
- Light-ish Lunch at Mission Cheese on Valencia Street – a great cheese focused café owned by one of the best couples I know. We get an adventurous cheese board, an order of their house made pate & pickles. If it’s cold & foggy – an order of raclette, too.
- An after lunch chocolate chip cookie from Craftsmen & Wolves – probably the best cookie in town.
- Make a trek to Ocean Beach for the best Chinese food in the city at Old Mandarin – a small ‘Islamic Chinese’ restaurant totally off the radar operated by a really colorful family. Anything with lamb is amazing – the vegetable hand pies are one of my favorite bites in town, too. The place is BYOB, too – making it an even better deal.
- If we are really going for it and want dessert – a scoop of salted caramel or rincanelas ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery.
Favorite party or bar in SF?
I enjoy the Lonestar, Eagle, and Powerhouse in the South of Market neighborhood. My other half is a DJ & one of the original members of Honey Soundsystem – the San Francisco queer party that put a spotlight on the best house & techno music. It used to be every Sunday night – a weekly ritual that provided many memorable moments. It’s no longer every Sunday (thank goodness) – but Honey parties on holiday weekends are my favorite way to really let loose.