SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Conviviality is coupled with comfort food and crafted cocktails for this week’s feature at one of my favorite San Francisco neighborhood spots “Finn Town Tavern” . Chef Steve Dustin is at the helm as the Executive Chef of Finn Town, a “Tavern with a Twist” located in the ever-evolving Castro District. Steve was most recently the Culinary Director of Operations for San Francisco’s award winning Big Night Restaurant Group, which owns and operates Park Tavern, Marlowe, Petit Marlowe, The Cavalier, Marianne’s, and Leo’s Oyster Bar. Steve also served as the chef de cuisine at The Cavalier, a James Beard Foundation semifinalist for “Best New Restaurant in America,” where he delighted San Francisco Bay Area diners with his bright, ingredient-forward focus, and developed a loyal following for his beautiful Sunday roasts.
Spending his childhood growing up in rural Michigan, Steve developed a deep appreciation for our natural environment while fishing on lakes near his home and tending his favorite crops including strawberries, beets, and rhubarb. Drawn to the action and energy of the kitchens in his hometown’s restaurants, Steve’s first job was tackling the dish pit at a local tavern. His experience behind the scenes piqued his interest to explore culinary techniques and the multitude of cuisines found around the world.
In 2001, Steve entered the fine dining scene at Canoe in Atlanta. For three years, he created elegant food in a fast -paced environment before moving to New York City in 2004. While working in Tribeca as sous chef for Bouley, Steve began building his foundation of French cooking techniques inspired by Bouley’s creativity. At The Harrison, he was able to hone his skills further by crafting an urban rustic style of dining to complement the neighborhood’s desire to experience excellent cuisine in a welcoming environment.
In 2008 when Steve was presented with the opportunity to serve as executive chef for two of the Three Leaf restaurant group’s restaurants, Aji and Leaf, he was happy to have a change of pace from life in Lower Manhattan and relocate to Boulder, Colorado. Steve welcomed the opportunity to focus on new cuisines and was thrilled to have his first experience working in restaurants dedicated to sourcing local, market-driven products.
After two years of developing changing seasonal menus with locally produced ingredients, Steve took his new appreciation of sustainable dining back to New York in 2010. After working as chef de cuisine in Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, he returned to The Harrison as executive chef where he developed eight seasonally-driven menus before landing at Monument Lane in 2013. There, he combined his wealth of culinary experiences to offer fine dining in a neighborhood atmosphere by focusing on sustainable, local and organic products, winning the restaurant the Slow Food NYC Snail of Approval.
Today, as a member of Slow Foods and The Butcher Guild, Steve believes strongly in sustainable food. His passion is not only to provide natural and wholesome cuisine in his restaurants, but also to help educate the public on why we need to support sustainable, healthy food systems. We met at Finn Town Tavern recently for our Foodie Chap chat. This convivial spot has a little something for everyone; from private booths for intimate dinners to larger tables for plates to be shared to a seat at one of two bars where you can watch the chefs or bartenders put on a show.
Chef Dustin kindly shared his comforting “Not your mama’s Tuna Casserole” recipe. You’ll find it on the recently revamped Finn Town menu. My fave night at Finn Town is Thursday “Friendsgiving” night when herb roasted breast of turkey, confit leg stuffing, grandma’s cranberry sauce, pan drippin’ gravy are served family style. Yes – its like Thanksgiving every week and Finn Town Tavern owner Rick Hamer lords over proceedings like a proud papa or mama making sure everyone is satisfied and fully served.
For now enjoy Chef Dustin’s Tuna Casserole dish and the warm hearted conversation.
Finn Town Tuna Casserole
- 5 ounce Ahi Tuna Steak
- ½ cup English Peas, blanched (can be frozen or fresh)
- 1 cup Maitake Mushrooms (can use a different mushroom, if needed)
- 1 Shallot, thinly sliced
- ¾ cup Sour Cream
- ¼ cup White Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
- 2 cups Egg Noodles
- 10 Pea Greens Shoots
- 2 TBL Canola Oil
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Step 1 … this can be done 1 day before serving
- Boil 2qt of water.
- Add egg noodles and cook for 7 minutes.
- Remove egg noodles and cool.
- Add half of the canola oil in a medium size sauté pan and heat until almost smoking.
- Add Maitake Mushrooms to the sauté pan, season with salt, pepper and stir.
- Once the Mushrooms are about half way cooked, add the sliced shallots and continue to cook.
- Once the Mushrooms are fully cooked, remove from the heat and mix in the cooked English peas and sour cream.
- Add cooked egg noodles to mushroom, English peas and sour cream mixture and set aside for later.
- Heat the other half of the canola oil in another medium size sauté pan until smoking.
- Season the Tuna with salt and pepper. Once the canola oil in the sauté pan is very hot, place the tuna in the pan and sear on all sides (about 30 seconds to 1 minute for each side).
- Once the tuna has been seared, remove from the sauté pan and place on a cutting board.
- Reheat the sauté pan with the Mushrooms, English Peas, and Egg Noodles.
- Remove from sauté pan and place in an oven safe bowl.
- Add shredded cheddar cheese and melt in a hot oven for about 1 minute.
- While the cheese is melting, slice the tuna steak.
- Once the cheese is melted add the tuna steak to the stop of the casserole.
- Garnish with pea shoots and enjoy.