Nissue #3: Gayle Pirie, Chef and Owner at Foreign Cinema.
Gayle Pirie and her husband-partner John Clark have been at the helm of the restaurant Foreign Cinema for over 20 years. She earned it the old-fashioned way as she rose through the San Francisco culinary ranks, working for both the late Judy Rodgers at Zuni Café and then Alice Waters at a little place called Chez Panisse. I’ve known Gayle for almost two decades (full disclosure: I’m an investor in Foreign Cinema) and have seen her and John run it like an extended family, even and especially over this past year. If you want to know more about the colorful and essential history of Foreign Cinema, I’d highly recommend their latest cooking book, or just book a table under the stars and be a part of it.
Nish: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Gayle: A sequence of these 3 occurrences in action simultaneously: Both my kids completely engaged with something they love doing, dinner and dishes done, and settling in with a delicious movie with John (with a Manhattan on the rocks in hand).
Nish: What was your worst job ever?
Gayle: I had an SF Warehouse job packing clothing into boxes for 8 hours a day. I knew I had to do something different in life.
Nish: What was your first job ever?
Gayle: Answering the phones at the Catholic school rectory at St. Vincent de Paul Church.
Nish: What was your best job ever?
Gayle: Creating the brunch program at FC, seeing it rise from an empty courtyard, giving away Bloody Marys for months, and then seeing the present results from those early days beam bright today. It’s very gratifying work, and I’m grateful for this team, and this place.
Nish: What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Gayle: Self Doubt.
Nish: What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Gayle: Duplicity and Dishonesty.
Nish: What’s some advice you’d give to yourself at 23?
Gayle: To believe in, and love yourself. Stop thinking, “You are fat” and stop worrying about the petty injustices that don’t matter; please be more present in the moment. Learn TM.
Nish: What is your greatest extravagance?
Gayle: Upgrading hotel rooms.
Nish: You have dinner reservations for 4 at Noma, excluding family and close friends, who are the three people (alive, dead, or imaginary) you’d invite?
Gayle: The filmmaker David Lynch, Mel Brooks, and Steve Martin.
Nish: What is the theme song of your professional life?
Nish: What is your motto?
Gayle: What acts of kindness can I do today for others?
Nish: What is something you’re really excited about right now?
Gayle: Seeing the group Dead Can Dance live, getting my vaccine, and losing the masks.