Meet the Chef

Executive Chef Steven Connolly

Steven Connolly, Executive Chef

Executive Chef Steven Connolly joined the team at the Blue Mermaid Restaurant in San Francisco adjacent to the Argonaut Hotel, in 2007. Born and raised in Manhattan, New York, Chef Steven's culinary career extends over 30 years. His passion for cooking was born in his mother's kitchen, when at a young age he knew he wanted to be a chef.

After apprenticing with many fine chefs in New York City, Chef Steven found himself Chef of Mezzaluna, one of Manhattan's newest and most upcoming restaurants. After a long and successful career with Mezzaluna he decided to move to San Francisco and open his own restaurant called, Venticello, which became a very successful Nob Hill restaurant and is still flourishing today, 19 years later. After deciding to start a family Chef Steven moved on to McCormick and Schmick's Seafood Restaurants where he was immediately made Executive Chef of Spanger's in Berkeley for 7 years. Soon after another opportunity opened up at the Palomino, an upscale Mediterranean restaurant in San Francisco.

Questions & Anwers

Q: What Special Award/Recognition are you most proud of?
A: First place award at the Schweppes Great Chowder Cook Off in Rhode Island

Q: Who is your culinary mentor?
A: Graham Kerr

Q: What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
A: A little goes a long way and adds depth of flavor to dishes with even just a pinchâsalt, of course.

Q: Who would you most like to cook for?
A: Assuming I could choose from living and passed, definitely Abraham Lincoln.

Q: What is your favorite cookbook?
A: The Silver Spoon


Chef Steven's Favorite Recipe:
Award Winning California Dungeness Crab and Corn Chowder

Awarded Three Times By The Schweppes Great Chowder Cook Off in the Creative Category
(Makes about 12 cups for a first course or 6-8 for a main course)


  • 4 ounces Applewood Smoked Bacon
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup corn
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1 Pasilla Chili, diced
  • 1 Jalapeño Pepper, split in half, seeds
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
  • ½ tsp. Chipotle powder
  • 4 sprigs thyme, stem removed, leaves
  • chopped
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 Quart Crab Stock
  • 2 lbs. Kennebec potatoes, ½" diced
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 lb. fresh Dungeness crab meat
  • 1 bunch cilantro, diced and chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil


  • Over low heat, add smoked bacon to a 4 to 6 quart heavy pot. Slowly render the fat and then increase the heat to medium to make the bacon crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Leave about half the bacon fat in the pan.
  • Add the butter, and saute the corn. After 4-6 minutes, remove the corn from the pan. Add the onions, saute until translucent. Be careful not to brown, about 4-6 minutes. Add pasilla and sautean additional 4-minutes, remove from the pan. Add celery, saute 2-3 minutes. Then add garlic and continue to saute for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the onion, corn, pasilla and bacon to the celery. Add Old Bay, Chipotle powder, split Jalapeno pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Just barely cover the vegetables with crab stock and then add the diced Kennebec potatoes. Increase the heat to high and boil the potatoes vigorously for about 4 minutes. The goal is to soften the outside of the potato to help thicken the chowder, while keeping the potato al dente.
  • Add the heavy cream and cream cheese. Stir for two minutes and then remove from the heat. If you need to thicken the chowder a little more smash a few of the potatoes against the side of the pot.
  • Adjust the seasoning with salt and fresh white pepper. Remove the Jalapeno pepper before serving.

Cilantro Pesto
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed, dried and chopped
  • Approximately ½ cup of olive oil-puree in a blender

To Serve
  • Place Chowder in a bowl, add 1 â 2 oz. of crab meat and garnish with cilantro pesto.