We believe that an event is more than the sum of its parts; it is a holistic experience informed by total attention to detail and strict standards of excellence. That’s why we have eschewed the traditional catering model for events in our premier spaces, choosing instead to bring in major culinary talent to develop a food and beverage program that matches the quality of our venues.
Chef Larry Finn, Culinary Director, leads the innovative culinary team at Merchants Exchange Productions that encompasses the Julia Morgan Ballroom, the Merchants Exchange Club and Credo Restaurant. He brings a wealth of expertise from both the New York City and San Francisco culinary scenes.
Most recently, Larry was the executive chef of The Sir Francis Drake Hotel and Scala’s Bistro in San Francisco. At Scala’s, he led the kitchen staff, revamped the menu and focused on sourcing ingredients from local farmers and purveyors. In addition, he oversaw the banquet and in-room dining at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel.
Prior to Scala’s Bistro, Larry was the chef de cuisine at Morimoto New York City. Working with Masaharu Morimoto, he oversaw a kitchen staff of 36, created daily specials, and organized various events including Iron Chef battles, charity events and cooking classes.
In 1991, Larry started out his career at Union Square Café as the kitchen manager. As a young chef, he got his first taste of seasonal farmer’s markets and created close working relationships with local farmers and artisans purveyors. During this time he met Chef Gray Kunz and realized he wanted to work for this culinary genius that was known for his creations that encompassed great flavor complexity and layers. For the time being, Gray became Larry’s mentor and friend.
In 1995, Gray contacted Chef Todd Humphries at Campton Place, a former protégé, and recommended Larry. Although he had never worked or lived outside of the New York area, Larry jumped at the chance to go to San Francisco. He spent four years at Campton Place, the last two years as sous chef. Larry loved San Francisco and the ability to work with numerous local farmers and purveyors. He only left San Francisco to return to the East Coast, to work for his mentor on a new project in the works, Café Gray.
Upon returning to New York City, Larry worked closely with Gray Kunz to open Café Gray in the Time Warner Center. Larry, as executive chef, received a prestigious two star review from the New York Times and a Michelin star.
After four years at Café Gray, Larry returned to the Union Square Hospitality Group, parent of Union Square Café where he started his culinary career. He was the executive chef for all Union Square Hospitality Group Citi Field food outlets. In addition, he spent a short time working as the chef de cuisine at the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City.
Larry grew up in Central New Jersey, where he started cooking for his family at the tender age of ten. As a teenager he worked at a local country club as a busser and eventually in the club’s kitchen. One of the cooks in that kitchen came from Johnson & Wales University. On a trip back to the school he took Larry with him. Larry realized this was exactly the education he wanted, an education that allowed him to further his culinary passion but also learn the management and finance side of the restaurant business. Larry earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Food Service Management from Johnson & Wales.
Larry and his wife, Therese, reside in San Francisco with their two children. He loves to spend time in his own kitchen with his family.