Emily Hansen is a private chef operating her business out of San Francisco. Her mission is to bring the restaurant into people’s homes. She provides her clients with small, often intimate dinner parties in their homes or at other venues with invited guests for special occasions.
Hansen is a lifetime member of the Sveadal community. Her father, Dave, is memorialized in Sveadal’s annual Horseshoe Contest every 4th of July. Having grown up on the peninsula, she now resides in San Francisco, where she is active as part of its flourishing culinary scene. She attributes her passion for food to her Swedish-American grandmother, Christine (“Fifi”) Ferrari, who with her grandfather, Ernie, was a longtime cabin owner in Sveadal. In her earliest memories she was in the kitchen with her grandmother, loving and learning how daily and special dishes were prepared. Whenever homework was due, the kitchen beckoned much more appealingly.
She was in her element as she learned that cooking was not a chore but an art allowing her to express herself. When Hansen finished high school, she had her heart set on attending a culinary academy in New York City, but her family and friends did not think cooking an appropriate career goal and she instead studied psychology at the University of San Francisco.
Upon graduation, however, she bought a one-way ticket to New York and took up residence there. She enrolled in a nine-month program at the French Culinary Institute, from which she graduated at the top of her class. Her grandfather Ernie could take pride in the end, especially since she developed a real passion for the Italian cuisine of his heritage.
Following this training, Hansen's first job was at Eleven Madison Park, one of the top restaurants in New York, with refined culinary tastes. Having polished her skills there she moved onto Del Posto, a fine-dining Italian restaurant, where she honed her skills in the cuisines of Italy’s many regions.
When it was discovered that Ernie was in bad health and dying, she returned to the Bay Area and took a position at the Gary Danko restaurant, one of the very best in San Francisco. During its 11 years of existence, the owner had not entrusted the reputation of the restaurant to a female chef, but Hansen rose to become the meat cook.
Following that experience and her own rapidly growing reputation, she worked as the sous chef at a small restaurant, Baker and Banker. This allowed her to expand her expertise as she moved into management, a particularly valuable experience for her next job with celebrity chef Tyler Florence, at his Wayfare Tavern in the city. When he opened his second restaurant, El Paseo in Mill Valley, he asked her to help design the restaurant and she remained there as chef d’cuisine.
With that new skill under her toque and enjoying the new challenge, Hansen decided to start a consulting business on opening new restaurants. She might have been thinking of the local scene, but her first challenge in this field was to design, to train the staff, and to open a new restaurant, The American Steakhouse, in Ulan Bator, Mongolia! With a profound language barrier and cuisine difference, her one and a half months there were particularly challenging. Yet with demonstrations, samplings and lots of gestures, she was able to communicate with the new trainees and teach them the culinary culture of the United States.
After that challenge, Hansen decided to fulfill her passion by starting her own business headquartered in San Francisco. She would become a private chef, preparing fine dining experiences for small, intimate parties in her clients' homes on special occasions or even on regular assignments.
Always ready for a challenge, Hansen entered the culinary competition, Chopped, on The Food Network, where she distinguished herself by winning second place. She has cooked for celebrities themselves. One of her clients even flew her to their home in Baltimore, MD when they hosted a special dinner, and she cooks three nights a week for one of her regular clients.

Food heals
The 120 guests at Sveadal’s 90th anniversary banquet can certainly attest her presentations are a feast for the eyes as well as to be savored by the palate. And not only does she serve masterpieces of cuisine but her sauces and dressings are delicious — and the content of a cookbook she dreams about writing.
Hansen knows she is truly blest and fortunate, for her culinary art is all passion, so it never is work but always fun. Now she is scheduled to offer a course for QuickBooks on how to turn one’s passion into a career.
Another enthusiasm of her passion was shown at Sveadal’s banquet, for she loves to introduce young people to the joys of cooking and the art of presentation. There she trained several of the young servers in how to arrange and serve various dishes. And a few lucky adults, by assisting her, were able to peer over her shoulder to garner secrets which will enhance their own skills in the kitchen.
She is grateful to live here in the Bay Area, in touch with most of her family and relishing all the get-togethers. She is a loyal fan of both the San Francisco Giants and of the San Francisco 49ers, and now that her younger half-brother, Bradley Northnagel, another Sveadal rising star, is a highly ranked collegiate football player on the University of California, Berkeley’s football team, she is looking forward to watch him play an exhibition game in Australia.
Ironically Hansen's degree in psychology is being put to good use, for she is very interested in teaching cooking to kids to nurture their talents for remunerative and gratifying culinary careers. She believes cooking can be calming therapy for troubled kids as they discover their own passions and talents. She has donated to an Episcopalian community effort to help the homeless use cooking as not merely a means of therapy but also as a means to gaining rewarding employment. She hopes to teach at a culinary academy and enjoys being involved in corporate team-bonding exercises, involving training teams of colleagues. Although she is not a doctor, she is proud to save people’s lives.

By Ted Olsson