2017 Most Eligible

By Erin Carlson

Twenty-six of the Bay Area’s best and brightest talk dating, who makes them swoon (Emma Watson, for the win) and how they decide you’re The One

Maybe you’re single and would rather not be. Maybe you’ve tried Match or OkCupid or Tinder with no luck and balk at the prospect of sitting through yet another blah date when you could have stayed home and watched Netflix. Maybe you think to yourself, There’s nobody dateable in San Francisco.

After a while, pretty soon you might start to believe it’s true. (Womp womp.) To which we say: Au contraire! Feast your eyes on the fabulous candidates in the Nob Hill Gazette’s 22nd Annual Eligibles List, including the five accomplished singles we photographed for the occasion. Behold: Mourad Lahlou, the Michelin-starred chef behind Aziza and Mourad; Veronica De La Cruz, the dynamic CBS San Francisco evening news anchor and host of CW’s Bay Area Nightbeat; Dr. Tiffany Lester and her winning smile; Ashley Adams, an effervescent sales executive whose dream guy is a cross between Jimmy Fallon and Tom Brady; and Jimmie Sandman, a former Stanford water polo star who could actually be Brady’s stand-in.

Easygoing yet busy-busy, Lahlou is always working. But while passionately committed to his namesake Montgomery Street restaurant, where the cuisine takes inspiration from his native country, Morocco, he would definitely make time for the right woman. So: Who is she?  “Funny and real,” he says. “It’s not about showing off or trying to impress, it’s just about being yourself and being able to do the things you do when nobody’s there.”

De La Cruz, who came to the Bay Area from NBC News in New York, names actor Gael Garcia Bernal as her celebrity crush, and finds herself drawn to men who project sophistication with an edge. The kind of man “who puts family first and likes to globetrot because I don’t know if my wanderlust will ever be satisfied. I’m also a huge fan of music. I started my career as a music journalist and have 4,000 records in my garage. If you love going to live shows and have a record player, I may have met my match.”

In her spare time, Lester—a doctor at Parsley Health, an innovative healthcare provider—listens to records on her vintage turntable and enjoys cooking delicious yet healthy meals. She looks for comedy and confidence in a significant other, and her dream date involves any activity “that allows us to create a unique memory but also shows me a part of his personality.”

Adams loves getting outdoors, watching the Golden State Warriors and spending quality time with friends and family. Her favorite charity is The First Tee of San Francisco, which gets youngsters interested in golf, and when it comes to love, she values an active lifestyle, a strong sense of self, and perhaps most important, a stellar sense of humor. “That’s the golden ticket right there,” she says. “You pair that with a tall, good-looking, athletic, family-oriented man, I mean, you can’t really get much more.” Though Patriots quarterback Brady fits the bill, “He has this crazy diet that I would never be able to follow,” she jokes, “but that’s why he’s married to Gisele.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Sandman, who works in business development at a startup, has eyes for Emma Watson. His passions, in no particular order: Yoga. Volleyball. Breaking things. Fixing things. Hiking. Bodysurfing. Running around with Rusty, his 8-month-old German Shepherd/Hound rescue. “He is my dog embodiment,” Sandman explains. “He was the most obnoxious one in the pen, and that’s why I chose him: Because he looked like he’d be a lot of fun—and a handful.”

Without further ado, we present more 2017 Eligibles on the next page. They’re all ambitious, fun-loving and involved with the community. So next time you’re intent on missing that party to catch up on The Crown, remember this lineup. You never know whom you’ll meet…

Lee Gregory

The Stanford grad joined McCalls Catering, where she’s executive vice president, after 10 years as a systems engineer at IBM. Her ideal mate… is a good conversationalist. Theme song: “Fly Me to the Moon.”

Moanalani Jeffrey

The magnetic-pixie photographer, who runs her own agency, charms everyone she meets. Favorite restaurant: Harris’ steakhouse. Best thing about SF: “It’s the Wild West of opportunity.”

Barry O’Brien

A managing director at SVB’s venture capital and private equity group, O’Brien—born in Dublin, Ireland—is known around town for his infectious joie de vivre. (To answer your question: Yes, he’s got an Irish accent.)

Colby Hallen

She’s the chic owner of Hunter Gatherer Curated Mercantile & Provisions in Napa Valley. Favorite charity: American Red Cross. Dream date: “Robert Redford (circa like 1973).”

Christian Gardner

The dashing Elevee Custom Clothing designer and model is 6 feet 2 inches tall. What else do you need to know?

Heather Valine

The worldly QuintilesIMS Health executive has lived in London and Dublin. Theme song: “I don’t know if this counts … but I have been ‘Dancer of Honor’ in two weddings and both brides selected ‘Baby Got Back’ for me to dance to!”

Jerry Nemorin

Sitting at the cutting edge of financial technology, Jerry’s business, LendStreet, helps clients rebuild their credit. Favorite place to travel: “Haiti. Cape Town, South Africa is a close second.” Dream date: Halle Berry.

Jim Kreissman

He’s the senior West Coast litigator at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in Palo Alto, but most crucially, counts The Princess Bride as one of his go-to movies. Favorite restaurant: Kokkari. His ideal mate… is honest, intelligent and positive.

Sophie Azouaou

She’s the glamorous interior designer and founder of SophiSticate Interiors. Favorite place to travel: “Paris, without a doubt.” Her ideal mate: “Someone who makes me laugh, has a compassionate heart and appreciates the little things.”

Ken Howery

The Founders Fund partner and PayPal co-founder is, like the rest of us, totally captivated by SF’s natural beauty. Favorite charity: “Kiva. They’ve raised almost $1 billion in microloans to help small entrepreneurs in developing countries.”

Eileen Carey

The brainy, hilarious founder and CEO at Glassbreakers, the enterprise software company focused on employee diversity and inclusion, spends her off-hours writing and volunteering. Favorite place to travel: Havana. Dream date: Trevor Noah.  Theme song: “C.R.E.A.M.” by Wu-Tang Clan.

Alex Witherill

The gregarious financial advisor and movie producer sits on the board of directors at the San Francisco Film Society. Favorite restaurant: Tosca. His ideal mate… has wit, humor, style and stamina. Dream date: Melanie Laurent.

Jon Quick

A principal at VantagePoint Capital Partners. Favorite TV show: Game of Thrones. Dream date: Emma Watson. Theme song: “I Want It That Way.”

Daisy Barringer

The freelance writer resides in Ashbury Heights with her 150-pound Saint Bernard, Monkey. Dream date: “Is this the proper forum to discuss my attraction to The Beast in Beauty and the Beast (but only when he’s The Beast)? Probably not, so I’ll go with Joe Biden. Or Dax Shepard.”

Michael Uytengsu

The multi-hyphenate businessman (Tusk Estates, Somersault Snacks, HK Anderson Pretzels) loves to vacation in the Mediterranean. Favorite restaurant: Bellota. His ideal mate… has curiosity, compassion and positive energy.

Samara Zelniker

The Parsley Health coach and wellness expert founded Mindfulness Matters, which provides holistic health coaching and mentoring services. Favorite charity: Africa Yoga Project. Dream date: Josh Duhamel. Theme song: “Kings of Summer” by Ayokay.

Jack Dorsey

OMG. The Twitter boss, Seacliff resident and yoga lover isn’t married. Intrigued? Tweet @jack! #Eligible #NHG #namaste

Klay Thompson

While Steph Curry plays model husband and father, his back-court teammate is still playing the field.

Sarah Kunst

The stunning founder and CEO launched Proday, the workout app that lets you exercise with professional athletes and fitness personalities.  Favorite charity: “Venture for America where I’m on the investor board.” Dream date: Channing Tatum.

Meg Ray

She’s the elegant baker of Miette, the world-renowned pastry shop, and chaired the San Francisco Ballet’s Opening Night Gala in January. Whoever wins this woman’s heart will get all the cupcakes. (We’re jealous!)

Mark Rhoades

The genial, stylish publicist is a fixture on the social circuit. Dream date: “Chris Pratt or Sacha Baron Cohen. I like intelligent and funny men.”

Mourad Lahlou

One of SF’s hottest chefs, the self-taught Lahlou once defeated Cat Cora on Food Network’s Iron Chef America. He’s got a twinkle in his eye, and his arms are covered with tattoos, including the word “strength.” Favorite TV show: Game of Thrones, when he gets time to watch it.

Tiffany Lester

The internal medicine physician has specialized training in functional medicine, acupuncture and nutrition. Her motto: “Health is always in fashion.” Favorite restaurant: As Quoted. Favorite TV show: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Theme song: “Not Afraid” by Eminem.

Jimmie Sandman

Favorite restaurant: “Monsieur Benjamin.Their bone marrow…yowsa.” Favorite TV shows: Stranger Things and Narcos. His ideal mate… has “athleticism, creativity, depth, breadth of experience, and some vein of spirituality.”

Veronica De La Cruz

The Channel 5 anchor founded The Eric De La Cruz Hope for Hearts Foundation to honor her beloved younger brother, Eric, who died in 2009 awaiting a life-saving heart transplant. On February 25, she’ll host a benefit for pediatric heart patient Jasmine Winnings. (See Social Calendar for further details.)

Ashley Adams

Favorite restaurant: Kokkari. Favorite TV show: “Does watching the Warriors count?” Theme song: “‘Life is a Highway’ by Rascal Flatts. … It says that the road may be tough but you just keep riding on the highway and don’t give up.”

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