For the past 28 years, Annie Somerville has been the head chef at Greens Restaurant, a vegetarian eatery located in Fort Mason. Founded by the San Francisco Zen Center, Greens celebrated its 30th anniversary earlier this month.
What has been the key to Greens’ longevity? I think it’s that we’ve stayed the course and stayed true to our original beliefs. We don’t try to mask or disguise what the food is.
As a chef of a vegetarian restaurant, are you required to be a vegetarian? I’m not a strict vegetarian — occasionally I eat a little bit of chicken, but I really enjoy eating vegetarian dishes.
What are some of the challenges and benefits of cooking only vegetarian meals? The biggest challenge is creating menus that are abundant and really interesting. We can’t just throw on a piece of chicken or fish to the menu, so in that regard, we’re limited with what we can do.
What’s your favorite thing on the menu? Well, it always changes depending on what time of the year it is. I enjoy all of the leafy greens, like kale and chard; I absolutely love our tomatoes and wild mushrooms; and all the stone fruits are always very tasty.