| December 21, 2021 | Lifestyle
While working through every position in the kitchen at restaurants throughout San Francisco, Chef Abel Padilla spent his free time cooking at home, refining his own style with aspirations of one day leading his own kitchen. Over the past 16 years, Chef Padilla has been able to bring his unique culinary perspective to life as the head chef at San Francisco’s famed Hog Oyster Island Co.
For Padilla, celebrating the diversity of the Bay Area alongside connecting with the people who farm and produce the food he serves is his greatest influence. “I try to create a natural flow with my cuisine that starts with the producer. It’s important to me that the way [the ingredients] are farmed continues with the way I prepare the dish. From there it is important that this flow continues to the way the servers present the food. This harmony continues into the cocktail and wine menu that pairs with the food.”
The Bay Area-grown ingredients used in the restaurant’s decadent oyster and seafood dishes are effortlessly harmonized with the signature flavors of Highland Park Scotch whisky. “The terroir of a coastal Scotch and the merroir of an oyster is sympatico. This is a thing that has been proven.” states Padilla. Pairing the contemporary restaurant's oyster dishes with Highland Park’s aromatic peat smoke may seem unexpected, but the combination provides a sensory delight. The Scotch’s malty, salty and smoky notes echo and balance the brininess of oysters while simultaneously cutting through their rich creaminess. The fruity qualities of West Coast oysters pair well with the American sherry seasoned oak barrels used to mature the whisky.
A nod to just how well these two pair together, Chef Padilla claims, “In fact, skip the mignonette and just drizzle a little 18 year old on your oyster and call it a day!”
“A Wild Harmony” is brought to life through a joint venture between Highland Park, an award-winning single malt Scotch whisky that hails from Scotland’s Orkney Islands, and acclaimed restauranteurs in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Inspired by Highland Park, these gourmands created elevated and surprising culinary pairings to amplify the distinct flavor of the whisky. The chefs use the finest and freshest local ingredients to craft cuisine in their signature styles, which are then paired with the whisky’s rich combination of smoky and sweet flavors to achieve a harmonious crescendo. Highland Park shares the chefs’ admiration for unique yet flavorful combinations that result in exquisite pairings for connoisseurs of good taste. To learn more about Highland Park and where to buy your own bottle, visit HERE.
Photography by: Christophe Testi