THE NE TIMEAS NINE: Thomas McNaughton

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THOMAS McNAUGHTON, founding partner + executive chef
What is your favorite dish on any of our menus right now? Grilled escarole with chanterelle mushrooms and bresaola at central kitchen.
What is your favorite memory/experience at Ne Timeas thus far? At three o’clock on flour + water’s opening day we still had guys cutting shelves in the middle of the kitchen. There were tools everywhere, shards of metal flying into food. None of the cooks could move around the kitchen. The tension was so high that I pulled all of them out to the street and we took turns screaming at the top of our lungs to get some of the anxiety out. Then I went straight to the bathroom and dry heaved. Never looked back since then.
What’s your go-to cocktail? Depends where I am. What’s the weather like? When it’s cold out I’m a Maker’s Manhattan kind of guy. Hot weather and it’s definitely a margarita with salt. By the pool? Make that a frozen margarita. If I’m at a really douchey bar, a wedding, or an airport, a classic gin and tonic will get me through. And I’ve been known to drink one or two Baby Turtles from the first Trick Dog menu.
Happiest food moment? Sitting on a stone wall outside of Avignon, France eating cured meats, cheeses, and marinated vegetables with crusty bread and a bottle of rose. Then I took a nap.
What did you want to be when you grew up? I’m still trying to figure that out.
What brought you to SF? Food.
Dream day off? It has certainly changed in the last nine months. I have to take the cheesy route and say it’s hanging out with [my daughter] Lucie.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had? The first job I had I was fourteen-years-old, getting paid under-the-table, manually loading clay pigeons into an arm at a shotgun range. The owner sometimes paid me in cigarettes. A kid lost a couple of fingers in the arm one time.
Hidden talent that has nothing to do with food. I can bust out a mean beat box.
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