Influential Northern California Chef Donna Scala Has Died

Donna Scala, talented Bay Area chef and restaurateur behind Bistro Don Giovanni and other restaurants, has died
Influential Northern California Chef Donna Scala Has Died
Twitter/Donna Scala

"Most chefs wear white coats. Some daring ones may switch to black, but Donna usually wore pink, purple, yellow or green."

Bay Area chef and restaurateur Donna Scala, who helped launch a number of important Northern California restaurants, died on Tuesday, March 25th after succumbing to a brain tumor at the age of 60.

Scala, who eschewed overly-crafted cuisine and sleek kitchen technology in favor of copper pots and her own vegetable garden, had been at the helm of Bistro Don Giovanni for twenty years.

In 1982, Scala opened Donarcy’s in Sausalito, selling specialty foods from France and Italy. In 1987, Scala and her husband Giovanni opened Piatti Ristorante in Yountville. After expanding Piatti to six locations, the pair sold their shares. In 1993, the pair opened Bistro Don Giovanni where Giovanni ran the front of the house, and Donna ran the kitchen, reportedly always wearing pearls. The Scalas also opened Scala’s Bistro in the Sir Francis Drake hotel on Union Square.

“Most people walk quietly through life and leave a small footprint,” wrote Michael Bauer, the restaurant critic for The SF Chronicle. “Donna Scala, who died yesterday at the age of 60 of a brain tumor, blazed through it on a turquoise Vespa. Most chefs wear white coats. Some daring ones may switch to black, but Donna usually wore pink, purple, yellow or green, often opened at the front to show a little cleavage.”

Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.

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