2018’s Food Influencer: Gabriela Cámara

Story by Riley McDermid; photo by Derek Yarra

Celebrated chef Cámara says that incorporating nature and art into food is part of her DNA.

“I grew up outside of Mexico City in Tepoztlán, a small, beautiful mountain town. As a child I would frequently go fishing with my father and grandfather, and since then I had a fascination with fresh fish; however, it wasn’t until I was studying Art History in college, after various trips to Zihuatanejo with friends, where we realized that we wanted amazing fresh fish to be available in Mexico City,” she says. “That’s when the decision of opening a restaurant happened.”

After that revelation, Cámara went on to open Contramar in 1998, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. After that came SF’s beloved Cala, which Cámara says has benefited from the city’s vast well of talent and inspiration.

“The values of this city’s residents who are open-minded and incredibly community-oriented, its access to nature, and of course the impeccable quality of the ingredients —  from the oceans and the farms — that are at all the amazing farmer’s markets in the area,” she says, adding that’s one of the reasons she supports food-based community center 18 Reasons, founded by Sam Mogannam and Anne Walker.

Still, challenges remain, even for the city’s top chefs. “For my San Francisco community, it has been said before, but I think the major issue is how to attract and retain a talented workforce to a city that is becoming increasingly expensive,” Cámara says.

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