Abel A. Lemus came to San Francisco from his native country, El Salvador, at a very young age. He started as a dishwasher at Il Fornaio Restaurant and rapidly moved up the ranks, becoming a line cook before the end of his first year. Abel spent the next five years developing his culinary skills as the Sous Chef at SoMA’s Paragon Restaurant before joining McCalls in 2008. After proving himself to be a culinary team leader at the de Young Café, Abel advanced to the McCalls Production Kitchen. Today he is one of our most dedicated and trusted Party Chefs, executing everything from small, high-profile dinners to elaborate sit-down dinners for 700 or more.
It takes a team to make your big ideas happen. Our chefs hail from around the globe and were trained in some of the world’s most elite hotels and restaurants. We’re dedicated to seasonal, sustainable, and organic practices, with just about everything made from scratch, and we never, ever run out of ideas … or hors d’oeuvres. We pride ourselves on diversity and have cultivated our culinary group to accommodate the taste of anything you can cook up.
We’re proud to call the following professionals part of the McCalls family:
Lucas Schoemaker — President and Executive Chef
Josip Martinovic — Chef de Cuisine
Brian Nauer — Executive Sous Chef and Director of Purchasing
Mario Molina — Production Chef
Kenny Yuk Lan Tsui — Chef de Asian
Tim Stewart — Kitchen Manager
Jose Marroquin — Party Chef
Victor Castro — Party Chef
Maricela Revuelta — Administrative Assistant to the Executive Chef
Abel Lemus — Party Sous Chef
Cynthia Felix — Chef Hors d’Oeuvres
Olga Santos— Chef Hors d’Oeuvres
Shirley Go — Asian Cuisine Sous Chef
Melinda Quirino — Executive Chef Café Asia
Jason Smith — Executive Chef de Young Museum
Jesus Palacios — Sous Chef Café Asia
Kyle McCulloch — Co-Chef Legion of Honor
Jay Christobal — Co-Chef Legion of Honor
Below are a few of our featured chefs.
Lucas is President and Executive Chef of McCalls. In his more than 20 years with the San Francisco–based catering company, Lucas has been recognized with numerous awards, including the title of “Master Chef of America.” His classical European culinary training began at the age of 12, and he later did apprenticeships at a series of two- and three-star restaurants in the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. Lucas moved to the United States to further pursue his culinary passions, working as a chef at Peacock Alley at the Waldorf Astoria in New York and as an owner/partner of Le Trianon Restaurant in San Francisco. Lucas joined McCalls in 1989.
Josip is the Chef de Cuisine at McCalls, responsible for menu development, tastings, and executions of high-profile sit-down dinners.
Josip came to the U.S. in 1999, but his story starts in his homeland of Croatia, where he completed his four-year studies at the culinary academy in 1989. In 1991, he moved to Germany, where he worked at the Four Seasons Hotel and eventually ran the kitchen at Julep’s New York Bar and Restaurant in Munich for six years.
In Europe, Josip worked with many top chefs, where learned to respect and master the techniques of different cuisines, including German, French, and Italian. His desire to expand his horizons took him to California, where he joined McCalls in 2000. He enjoys our diverse spectrum of events, which allow him to combine different cuisines from around the world with his classic French Mediterranean techniques. He also appreciates McCalls’ focus on fresh, local produce and meat.
Josip loves people, food, art, humor, and creativity, all expressed through his dishes. He emphasizes that a chef must “cook with love; otherwise, it does not work.” And, he adds: “If you are angry, do not go near the pot.” Words to live by.
Brian has 36 years of experience in the food-service industry. After six years as a Banquet Chef at the Hyatt Resort, Lake Tahoe, he joined McCalls in 1987. Brian is currently Executive Sous Chef and Director of Purchasing.
Mario grew up in El Salvador, in a town called Chalatenango. In 1984, Mario moved to San Francisco, beginning his culinary career at local fine-dining restaurant Schroeders Cafe. Here he developed his skills under classically trained European chefs and was exposed to continental cuisine, classical techniques, and a strict European discipline. Nearly a decade later, Mario began working at McCalls. After a short period, given his experience and dedication to his craft, Mario was promoted to Production Chef, where he oversees the catering kitchen’s food preparation.
As the Chef de Asian Cuisine, Kenny designs and develops our Asian-inspired menus and recipes. Born in Shanghai and raised in Hong Kong, Kenny first acquired his love of food from working as a cook in Asian-style restaurants in Hong Kong. At age 28, he moved to the United States and opened his first sushi restaurant in Los Angeles. After 12 years of successfully running his own business, he sold his restaurant and moved to San Francisco. Soon after, he began working in two of the Bay Area’s most beloved sushi restaurants: Ebisu and Ace Wasabi. Kenny joined the McCalls family in 2000.
Tim started his culinary career in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, apprenticing and cooking at private clubs. He later moved to the Los Angeles area, where he spent the next 23 years working for Steve Matthews in the Hennesey Restaurant group, Robert Bell in the Chez Melange group, and Scot Roeb Catering and Raymond Hoffmeister at the Century Plaza hotel. During that time, he worked as a chef, sous chef, saucier, restaurant manager, kitchen manager, and safety manager. In 2007, he moved to San Francisco and began working for McCalls. His presence has allowed us to maintain and expand our legendary “McCalls service.” His job title: “I answer the call!”
McCalls’ Party Chef Jose Marroquin developed a strong bond with food at a young age. Born and raised in El Salvador, he grew up helping to harvest the family farm and learned to cook by watching his mother and grandmother. At age 18, Jose decided to follow his passion for food and he moved to San Francisco. After nearly 20 years immersed in the Bay Area’s diverse food environment, Jose’s culinary skills span Asian, American, European, and Latin American cuisines.
Victor moved to San Francisco in 1995 from El Salvador, to pursue his culinary career. He found just the spot at the Kokkari Estiatorio restaurant. After spending several years there, Victor joined the McCalls culinary team. Victor thrived in the McCalls kitchen around the creative chefs, who in turn supported his growth. Continually learning new techniques and styles, Victor moved his way through the kitchen and was promoted to Party Chef, where he is responsible for executing catering events.
Melinda has been at the helm of Café Asia as Executive Chef since the café first opened in 2003. She is an accomplished Chef with an extensive background in Asian-inspired cuisine. As one of the key Chefs at the Hotel Nikko Restaurant, she was responsible for all Asian food creations. Prior to Hotel Nikko, she served as Sous Chef and Chef in Charge at Cafe American and Chez Moi.
Melinda regularly shops for fresh produce at the farmers’ market at the United Nations Plaza, a few steps from the museum. “As a chef, I like to use seasonal produce,” she says. “It’s good for customers to have fresh food! I like to support the farmers as well.” Fall, for example, produces beautiful root vegetables, kabocha, and crispy apples.
Melinda’s inventiveness follows her customers’ desires as well as the changing seasons. “Everyone likes warm food in the cold weather, like coconut soup. I make it with kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass that I find at the market. There’s also a wild salmon burger people love. I serve it with sweet potato fries and lemongrass aioli.”
The Asian Art Museum’s exhibitions often inspire the café’s menu choices. For the Maharaja exhibition, she recalls, “I made chutney with kumquat, figs, and fresh pineapple. Also, we had Kashmiri kari korma—a leg of lamb braised in red pepper masala sauce, served with roasted cauliflower over basmati rice.” Asian food is so diverse, Melinda notes, that “it can be made fresh and new every day.”
Jason is Executive Chef at the de Young Museum’s café. He embarked on his culinary career 15 years ago in his home state of Connecticut, where his passion for all things culinary developed. He remembers taking walks to nearby farms to pick up tomatoes, corn, potatoes, and summer and winter squash. Later, while living in The Bronx, NY, Jason’s first mentor, Chef Riad Aamar, introduced him to Arthur Avenue. Traveling there to pick up provisions for the week, he said, was “the first time I made the connection between the people and the land.” This connection has shaped the way Jason cooks in San Francisco, his home for the last 11 years. He lets the seasons dictate the menus. “We Chefs are fortunate to live in such a food-centric city,” he said. “With Clement Street, Japan Town, and the many farmers’ markets around the city, flavor is never hard to find!”
Anna, it was more spectacular than we imagined. I can't thank you enough for your encouragement and support through the process, for all your creativity in guiding us through the decisions, and for overseeing that McCalls did everything they promised and then some. It was the most beautiful wedding and reception everyone had ever been to they said. Please tell the chef he cooked for 200 the way he cooked for our tasting and presented it as beautifully and everyone noticed and commented on it. The table service was perfect. No one waited a minute for their food, and everyone commented on that too. Peter ran a tight ship and it showed. You and McCalls were indeed the very best!
“It is always such a pleasure to work with McCalls. I worked with McCalls most recently as the event director for Carnivale at Grace Cathedral. The meal was impeccable, and we received many compliments from our guests, saying that they'd never had better food at a fundraiser. The quality of the food was indeed fantastic, and it was only one-upped by the quality of the staff. They are highly professional, attentive, organized, and flexible. Working with McCalls was a dream; on the night of the event, I was able to just sit back and enjoy my dinner while their team made everything happen perfectly. Load in and load out were thoroughly organized and efficient. Only a few hours after the event concluded, our space was back to normal. It was truly amazing to watch them work! I'll be forever loyal to McCalls as my caterer of choice.”
—Abby McKee, Director, Cultural Events of Grace Cathedral