Alisha Ardiana’s Story

Hello there and Happy September to you! 2011 is just FLYING by, right? Wish I could lasso it to slow down so I could enjoy the warmer days a bit longer!

I CANNOT tell you how excited I am to share with you our September story. Want to know why? WEST COAST BABY! I have a confession: I have a secret love for the west coast. Yep. I know that I will live out my days on the east coast but I secretly daydream of living along the Pacific. It has a different vibe, a different philosophy that I definitely tune into. But I digress…

I have been looking for someone from the west coast to raise their hand and agree to be featured since the beginning of Married to a Chef. With my crush of the west coast, I want to infuse that flavor on this site, giving us a taste of what it’s like on the other side of the country. I threw it out there and Alisha gladly stepped forward; and I am SO glad she did. Her partner, Sharon, is the owner of two successful restaurants, Gialina and Ragazza in San Francisco.  With Alisha by Sharons side, they work together to make both restaurants the relaxing and most delicious spot for San Franciscians to enjoy their Italian influenced dishes! From first glance, the laid back atmosphere and authentic flavors they’ve created are what definitely make my heart pitter patter so. You can just tell that they aren’t doing this because it’s what they DO, but more that this is who they ARE at their core. That, as you already know, is what makes being in this industry so wonderful!  

A little about Alisha in her own words:

I was raised on the East Coast (Born in Boston, but moved constantly!) & have a Biology degree from Notre Dame. If I could do it all over again, I would have done hotel/restaurant management.  But at this stage in the game, I settle with being a researcher by day and a foodie by night. I met my partner, Sharon Ardiana, because I was a regular at her first restaurant, Gialina. She opened her second restaurant, Ragazza, about a year ago, and it’s been both exhilarating and exhausting. I’m hugely proud of her, because she’s not only an amazing and talented chef, but she’s also a really heartfelt and passionate restaurant owner, who cares deeply for her staff.  I feel extremely lucky to be part of this restaurant family.

How Alisha handles researcher by day and supporting the restaurants by night, I’ll never know. Passion, Endurance, perhaps a little bit of loving obsession I would say is the recipe for success in this relationship. I am hopeful that one day soon I’ll make it out to the West coast, meet Alisha and Sharon in person and enjoy the fruits of their labor!

Without further adieu, let’s hear it for Alisha!

Q: What were your first impressions when you first realized that by being with your restaurant man/woman, that you have become a part of the restaurant world?

When we first started dating, she mentioned she’d be working a charity event 2 months later.  I tried to get a friend to buy tickets with me, but it was more than either of us could afford.  By the time the dinner happened, Sharon and I were pretty serious, and she invited me to help her work the event.  It was WAY more fun to be behind the scenes, and we made a great team.  She made amazing food, and I enthusiastically passed it out to everyone. 

Q: When did you know that you had what it took, within the parameters of his/her career, to find success in your relationship?

 After she opened her second restaurant, Ragazza.  I had the opportunity to participate in the entire process- from the first day she toured the prospective space, through all the construction, to the smallest design details.

I’m a great event planner, but this felt like we were planning a wedding, a graduation and a reunion- all at once.  It was super intense, and I’m proud of the contributions I made. 

Q: What is the BEST part of being married to someone in the restaurant industry?

That we are BOTH equally obsessed with the San Francisco food scene.  We are endlessly fascinated by restaurant openings, closings, newest reviews or trends. And a good meal is always our way to mark any significant event- both good and bad.

Q: How do you handle the holidays knowing he/she is going to be busy at work?

Sharon spent many years working through the holidays before I met her.  Now that she owns her own restaurants, she tries to close for the major ones, so her staff can spend the holidays with their families.  Otherwise, I always worked jobs that requires weekend and holiday shifts, so I’ve never been too troubled by celebrating a holiday earlier/later.  It’s the sentiment that counts, not the calendar date.

Q: How has achieving acclaim and success, within the restaurant industry, changed your relationship?

I’ve realized that anytime we go out in public, she could be recognized.  I pay more attention to my appearance, my voice level, and my topics of conversation. :)

Follow Ragazza on Twitter @RagazzaSF and Gialina @GialinaSF