As their careers progress, chefs often retreat from the front lines to supervisory roles, handing over the cooking to the underlings.
Thankfully, Israel “Izz” Rivera, chef at The Shop Breakfast + Lunch, is not there yet.
One of the city’s up-and-coming culinary talents, Rivera performs largely solo at his restaurant on the western edge of Nob Hill. It’s a good thing, because The Shop’s kitchen, wedged inelegantly behind the counter, has barely enough space for one person.
Rivera opened The Shop in 2014, after serving as a sous chef at Artichoke Café. Like the chef, the space is unassuming. Local artwork lines the walls, and music commingles with the strong aromas of food. The only sign that this might be a cut above the ordinary is the placard on the counter promoting chef Rivera’s coming appearance on the Food Network show “Beat Bobby Flay.”
The talent that caught the eye of Food Network is evident in dishes such as duck hash ($12), pieces of duck confit nesting in a base of diced potatoes and mild red chile sauce. The confit is prepared over several days by curing duck legs in salt and then slow-cooking them in duck fat, resulting in meat that is surpassingly rich and tender. One piece and you’re hooked, and you end up searching the abundant pile of potatoes for more. Thin slices of Brussels sprouts are a surprise addition that bring a bit of crunch to the tasty mass of eggs, cheese and potatoes.
Such details elevate the familiar dishes on the all-day breakfast menu. Chilaquiles ($12.50), a generous serving of tortilla chips piled over black beans and pulled pork and an exemplary avocado, gets tang and heat from pickled onions and jalapenos, along with a carpet of queso fresco. The red chile sauce and the yolk from the eggs soften the chips until they are but a whisper of their former selves. It’s a very successful preparation.