Chef Donald Link
Herbsaint and Cochon
Inspired by his Grandfather, Donald Link began cooking at a very young age. He was working in the kitchen at age 15 washing dishes and soon began cooking. After years of experience working in Louisiana restaurants, Donald moved to San Francisco in 1993. After working one year at the wildly popular Cha Cha Cha, Link attended the California Culinary Academy. During this time Donald cooked at many San Francisco restaurants, including the eccentric Flying Saucer, the newly opened Scala’s Bistro, Cole Valley’s Zazie, and at the Elite Café.
In 1995, Chef Link pursued his externship at Susan Spicer’s Bayona in New Orleans and continued on to become sous chef. In 1997, he returned to San Francisco to work with Loretta Keller at Bizou and to open Jardinière with Traci Des Jardin. On the West coast he again refined his style with a more acute appreciation of raw ingredients and a more delicate approach to technique with an emphasis on lightening sauces. This led to an Executive Chef opportunity at the Elite Café in San Francisco’s Fillmore District where he received rave reviews-- being hailed as “the premiere chef doing Creole food in the Bay area;” appearing on local cooking shows and participating in many charity events around Northern California.
Chef Link returned to New Orleans in 2000 to open Herbsaint Restaurant in the Warehouse District--where his non-compromising eye for quality ingredients and local produce underscore his stylish dishes – rich with flavor, while remaining light. Out of these basic principles, innovative yet simple preparations have led to some of the most original and favored dishes in the city at Herbsaint-- whose menu is peppered with house-made staples such as pastas and cured meats from its’ small kitchen. Chef Link learned about acute attention to detail of preparation from his childhood and expanded these ideas with a tireless energy for sourcing and producing ingredients. These ideas and a lot of sweat have converged at Herbsaint to what he can now consider a personal style of cooking. Also reflected on the menu at Herbsaint is the bounty of near and far with rabbits and suckling pigs from nearby southern Mississippi, locally caught wild shrimp and regular shipments of fresh seafood from the West and East coasts.
In the spring of 2006, following six months of delays due to Hurricane Katrina, Chef Link opened Cochon. Opening Cochon has been a lifelong dream for Chef Link, who grew up in Louisiana’s Cajun Country beside his grandparents in their home. Keeping true to these roots, Link will keep Cochon an authentic Cajun and Southern style restaurant featuring the foods and cooking techniques he grew up preparing and eating. This commitment is evident in the dishes on the restaurant’s menu such as Spoon Bread with Okra and Tomatoes; Smoked Duck Breast with Marinated Green Beans andentrées from the wood burning oven like Rabbit and Dumplings; Louisiana Cochon du Lait with Turnips and Cracklings; and his signature Catfish Sauce Piquant. In addition to the genuine Louisiana menu at Cochon, Chef Link and co-owner Chef Stephen Stryjewski will oversee an in-house “Boucherie,” including house-made Boudin, Andouille, and Smoked Bacon.
This year (2007) the world-renowned culinary organization The James Beard Foundation named Chef Link the: Best Chef: South (Link’s second nomination for Best Chef: South) and Cochon was nominated as Best New Restaurant: Cochon-- co/owned by Stephen Stryjewski. The James Beard Foundation award and nomination culminates a string of awards and accolades Chef Link has received since opening Herbsaint Restaurant in 2000 including but not limited to being listed as one of the “top ten” restaurants in New Orleans by the Times-Picayune; featured in the “America's Top 50 Restaurants” Gourmet Magazine in 2006; numerous accolades from the New York Times; and bestowed the honor by New Orleans Magazine for “Best Chef of 2002.”
Chef Donald Link