In a culinary world where many chefs become household names, Chef Chris L'Hommedieu was not a television superstar, but his leadership in some of the nation's most famous restaurants earned him respect from the best in the business and a devoted group of followers who are all mourning his passing.
L'Hommedieu, 44, lost his battle with a rare form of appendix cancer on Wednesday.
He had achieved what many aspiring young chefs dream of doing. He worked at Aqua, Michael Mina, and Thomas Keller's Per Se before he was tapped by renowned chef Nancy Oakes of Boulevard to head her new restaurant Prospect.
"He had a big personality. He was really well-liked in the chef community. Lot of fun. Great attitude and very creative guy," Oakes told KTVU Thursday.
L'Hommedieu worked with the best in the business. His photo appeared in articles, such as a 2009 Haute Living piece on top San Francisco chefs, where he was profiled along with culinary superstars Thomas Keller, Gary Danko and Alice Waters.
"He was a rock star," said Joshua Thomas, the Prospect wine director who worked with L'Hommedieu during the chef's final months in the kitchen before leaving last year to receive treatment for cancer.
"Extremely driven, extremely talented...a huge presence in the kitchen. Myself when I heard he was coming to our kitchen I was overjoyed and excited," Thomas told KTVU.
"It's very devastating. I mean, it's definitely a loss for the culinary industry," said Francis Blum, a Prospect sous chef.
"He was very passionate about what he does. He took it very, very personally, He translated it so well through the kitchen, he brought everybody up and everybody wants to work for him everybody wants to be better," Blum said.
KTVU interviewed L'Hommedieu in 2007. He was the head of Michael Mina restaurant at the Westin St. Frances at the time when they won two coveted Michelin stars.
He told KTVU, "It was a goal for us to get any stars, let alone two. So knowing we have them, it's more of a motivator at this point."
Friends say Chef L'Hommedieu was a great motivator and mentor to an entire generation of younger chefs.
French Laundry owner and chef Thomas Keller tapped L'Hommedieu to work at Keller's New York restaurant Per Se.
A tweet from Chef Keller Thursday stated, "Chris was a quiet observer and fine teacher to the next gen of chefs. We thank him for his years of dedicated service."
Chef Oakes says she'll always remember his food and sense of humor.
"I loved his mushroom hollandaise," Oakes said, "But I think I'll remember him singing Hall and Oates songs. I think that's what I'll remember him for."
A tribute dinner and fundraiser is reportedly being organized for him in September.
A nearly million dollar home in San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood is getting some attention for all the wrong reasons. Neighbors say the vacant boarded up home on Mullen Avenue gets lots of uninvited visitors.
Ian Williams walks his dog, Zoe, by the house each day. "We've seen, maybe in the last month, an ongoing cat and mouse game between people getting into the property, and people coming and boarding it up, and it getting torn down again," Williams said, as he observed what looked like new boards up on the home's windows.
A neighbor said a developer bought the house with million dollars views of San Francisco for just under $1 million in April, but no one lives there.
"A year ago I think it was a pretty well-furnished place, but now it's a shell." A shell with graffiti, empty liquor bottles, and broken beer bottles littering the property and next-door park. "I guess it has potential to be a nuisance," Williams shrugged.
Soon after Williams and his dog walked down the hill, a squatter peeked his head out from behind the home's retaining wall.
When asked if he lived there, the man replied, "No." He had the same answer when asked if the homeowner gave him permission to be on the property, but acknowledged that didn't seem to matter to the people who gather there. "All the time," he told KTVU. "24/7 people come. ‘Why?’ Just to see the city, drink beer, and smoke weed," he explained. "That's it."
As if on cue, minutes later nine people were sitting on benches in the hilltop park next door, rolling joints and drinking beer.
Williams doesn't mind so much the drinking, it's the trash they leave behind that makes him angry. "It's disrespectful to neighbors. That's where we kind of get fed up."
Williams said picking an empty 1/2 pint of Smirnoff Vodka out of the brush, "I don't know what else to do… I think you need to inhabit, frankly."
Another neighbor who didn't want his identity used said he's been in contact with the homeowner, who has taken steps to board up the home.
Still, the neighbor told KTVU he recently installed security cameras to keep an eye on the unwanted visitors. Last week those cameras recorded several men trying to break into the vacant home's attic, until they noticed the new cameras staring back at them.
A drive-by shooting Thursday evening at a busy park in Oakland has sent a 17-year-old boy to a hospital.
The shooting happened shortly after 7 p.m. at Brookdale Park off High Street. Police say about 20 shots were fired.
The park was filled with people playing softball, soccer and basketball.
Police tell KTVU the teen was not the intended target.
One mother told KTVU she’s had enough with violence in the area. “I was already planning to leave, but this is even more reason why I’m going to leave. These kids should be able to play in the park freely. They shouldn’t be scared of being shot, in broad daylight, in a park.”
Police have not yet released details about the victim, other than saying he is male. Neighbors told KTVU he’s a teenager.
Police say someone from the park fired back at the car.
It’s not clear if that person was the victim or somewhere else.
Authorities in Northern California are offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a fourth suspect in connection with a bank robbery that spun into a police chase and deadly shootout.
The FBI said Thursday it will be contributing $20,000 to a reward fund that also includes $20,000 from the Bank of the West and $10,000 from Stockton Crime Stoppers.
Officials say they want to find the driver who dropped off three armed robbers outside the bank last Wednesday before driving away in a black Buick.
The car was found two days later.
Two of the robbers and one hostage were killed during the shootout. The third robber who police said used the hostage as a human shield faces murder and attempted murder charges.
A man taught accounting at San Francisco State University from 2006 up until last Friday. Now former College of Business Associate Professor Mark Landis is facing 15 counts of misdemeanor invasion of privacy for allegedly taping former and current students in the bathroom of his San Francisco apartment.
The investigation began last November. Prosecutors said Landis would frequently host students at his home and that at one gathering, a male student discovered a surveillance camera in the bathroom, disguised as a tissue box.
"The camera was pointed in a way that when people were using the facilities, it would be pointed directly at their genitals," said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. "Very egregious contact, very disturbing because of the relationship. You have someone that obviously has the trust of the students."
Gascon said it took time to try to identify the 15 people seen in the footage. "Simply because the technology's available, readily available, doesn't mean that you get to use it in a way that you're invading other people's privacy," said Gascon. "We're charging him so far with 15 counts of invasion of privacy, but we believe that there may be other victims out there."
Landis was booked Wednesday and released on a $100,000 bond. KTVU was unable to reach him at his home or his attorney Thursday.
Landis' SF State webpage was taken down Thursday afternoon after KTVU contacted SFSU spokeswoman Ellen Griffen about the charges.
Griffen said Landis resigned last Friday and that counseling is available for students who believe they may have been victimized as well.
The allegations surprised and angered SF State students. "It's just intense that a teacher would violate all those students' privacy and to build up a sort of trust with their students is, like, a big deal," said Caitlyn Celi.
"He should be punished to the fullest extent of the law for violating students, because he's in a position of power," said SFSU student Samantha Sandoval."
A University of San Francisco spokeswoman said Landis taught as an adjunct for under two years up until the allegations surfaced late last year.
He is set to be arraigned in San Francisco Superior Court on July 29th.