Kitchen Confidential: Behind the Scenes of RN74 with Chef Jason Berthold

“We’re committed to using Liberty Farm ducks, which have tremendous flavor and texture.”

Nestled in the heart of San Francisco’s charming SOMA neighborhood, RN74 has fast become a Bay Area favorite for natives and visitors alike. It’s arguable as to whether the fanfare keeps gaining because of the delectable American and regional French cuisine or the extensive wine list, which highlights the Burgundy region of France (RN74 is, after all, short for “Route Nationale 74; the highway running through said region). Regardless, this urban wine bar and restaurant showcases a perfect balance between the plate and glass and has a team of industry veterans behind the menu and wine list that guaranteed such a feat; famed restaurateur Michael Mina, wine director Rajat Parr and executive chef Jason Berthold came together as partners in this venture and each has shined in his respective area of expertise. Haute Living caught up with Berthold to get the exclusive dish on this celebrated locale.

How did you begin your career in the culinary field?
I started in a vocational program in high school, and ended up getting hired by a local country club around that time when I was 17. I then went to culinary school in suburban Detroit and after, headed off to New York City.

What restaurants did you work at prior to RN74?
Atlas, Anissa, and Chanterelle in NYC, and a few years at both French Laundry and Per Se.

What appetizer, entrée and dessert is your restaurant best known for?
Our Maitake Mushroom Tempura is the most popular starter/share item. It is one of only two dishes that remains on the menu from opening day.

Our duck preparations are typically pretty popular as well. We’re committed to using Liberty Farm ducks, which have tremendous flavor and texture. We change the duck dishes a little less frequently than some of the other [dishes] because people usually come back specifically for them.

The beignets are the most popular dessert. Our pastry chef Nick Flores has a great recipe and frequently changes the accompaniments.

When you’re not at your own restaurants, where can we find you dining?
I’m from the Midwest so I often crave Mexican food, burgers, pizza, and pasta. Slow Club, Flour+Water, and Beretta are a few of my favorites.

What’s your favorite drink?
Beer. I love wine, but I drink beer more frequently.

What’s your favorite pastime?
Watching baseball and brewing beer.