Kathi Riley Smith

Kathi Riley Smith is a chef and restaurant consultant who starred in prestigious Bay Area kitchens during the farm-to-fork movement’s formative years. Riley Smith serves as the Oak Cafe coordinator within American River College’s Culinary Arts Department, imparting her vast knowledge California and Mediterranean Cuisine to the next generation.

Riley Smith was executive chef at the legendary Zuni Café from 1983-1987, during which time Zuni was awarded four stars by the San Francisco Chronicle. Before that, she worked at Chez Panisse Café for Alice Waters, and at Campton Place, with Bradley Ogden.

Riley Smith’s first Bay Area job was at the Union Hotel in Benicia. There, she worked under the brilliant Judy Rodgers, who would become a great friend and who would follow Riley Smith’s tenure at Zuni.

Upon Rodgers’ passing in 2014, Zuni Cafe owner Gilbert Pilgram, on Alice Waters recommendation, invited Riley Smith back to the Zuni Cafe kitchen as a guest chef. For five months, Riley Smith wrote menus and worked with the kitchen staff to help maintain Judy’s vision for the restaurant.