Sean Elsbernd receives first ever
Kathleen Harrington Leadership Award
District 7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, second from left, with Kathleen
Harrington's son and husband, Patrick and Michael; as Mayor Newsom
By Pat Murphy
September 29, 2005
Supervisor Sean Elsbernd last night received the first Kathleen
Harrington Leadership Award, awarded by the Golden Gate Restaurant
"Supervisor Elsbernd has been a good friend to San Francisco's
restaurants. He understands the importance of the City's restaurant
and hospitality industries to its economy and he has consistently
supported these industries through his leadership in the community
and on the Board," said Kevin Westlye, GGRA executive director.
GGRA executive director Kevin Westlye opens the event.
The 7:00 p.m. celebration was held at the Ferry Building, with
Westlye introducing Mayor Gavin Newsom who presented the award
"I can only believe that Kathleen would be extremely pleased
that he has been chosen to receive this award in her honor, Westlye
added in introducing Newsom."
Some 300 guests supped on dishes prepared by 23 celebrity chefs
as Newsom noted Elsbernd accomplishments.
"She cared deeply about the city. She cared deeply about
the values of the city, about the principles of the city, and
she had a remarkable capacity to see beyond ideology," Newsom
said of Kathleen Harrington.
"She could see beyond exclusion, and see a city where everybody's
working together, and living together across their differences.
"She was a fighter, she was tenacious, and she had a great
sense of humor on top of all that.
"So tonight I think it's a fitting tribute that tonight
we recognize someone that she would have supported for this award,
someone she believed in, someone who shares so much of the same
qualities as Kathleen, recognizes the importance of the private
sector, recognizes the importance of the business community, recognizes
you can't have economic growth without entrepreneurs who are willing
to take risks, to go out and create the jobs that make San Francisco
such a special place.
"There is someone who recognizes that, who has been demonstrating
so it's my pleasure to recognize Sean Elsbernd with
the first ever Kathleen Harrington Civic Leadership Award in the
City and County of San Francisco presented on behalf of the Golden
Gate Restaurant Association."
Elsbernd recalled his special affinity with Harrington.
"Thank you all very much for coming out tonight, and thank
you to the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.
"When Kevin told me six weeks ago that I was going to be
presented with the award, and told me that I was going to be named
after someone who was so important to me not just politically,
but someone who I welcomed as a friend.
"She was a wonderful friend. It's my hope that this award,
not just this first year, but as it continues year on and year
on, that every winner of this award follows in Kathleen's footsteps,
and follows her in her commitment to what I like to call 'passionate
"No one was more passionate about the simple, common sense
things that government more often than not wasn't able to deliver.
"Kathleen epitomized passionate common sense, and it's my
hope that other recipients of this award follow in those footsteps,
and I know having this award, and I will proudly display this
in my office, will inspire to follow that example.
"And lastly, not just that common sense, but the trait of
Kathleen's that I think all of us appreciate, whether we knew
her in the business context or whether we knew her as friends,
was Kathleen's remarkable loyalty to those issues she cared about,
but more importantly to her friends, and to her family.
"I think we should all recognize Michael and Patrick (father
and son respectively of Kathleen Harrington) who have come tonight.
Kathleen has a great legacy in this city, all her great work that
she did with the restaurant association.
"But let's not forget that Kathleen's greatest legacy is
right here. It's her family, and their blood will live on for
Chefs included Lionel Walter from Aqua, served his lemon verbena
panna cotta; Emily Lucchetti from Farallon, who dished up fig
tarts; Peter Osborn from Momo's, who created his crab cakes and
oysters rockefeller; Dan Scherotter from Palio d'Asti, who prepared
his olive-cured salmon; and, Ty Mahler from Roy's Restaurant,
who served crispy
tarot chips with scallop ceviche.
"Not many cities in the United States, let alone the world,
can boast the consistently high level of culinary accomplishment
that this region can," said James Ormsby, executive chef
at Jack Falstaff restaurant and an Oakland native who has been
producing award-winning food at some of the best and most innovative
restaurants around the Bay Area for 15 years.
"It really speaks to the importance that residents of this
region place on superior food and superior dining." Charles
Phan, executive chef at Vietnamese restaurant Slanted Door, also
credited the valuable work that GGRA performs for its more than
800 members to promote the food and restaurant industries and
ensure that they continue to flourish.
"The San Francisco restaurant industry faces many serious
challenges to its ability to survive and thrive," Phan said.
"The GGRA gives us a strong, unified voice in making sure
that policy makers and decision makers are well aware of the vital
importance to this region's economy and cultural backbone of maintaining
a vibrant restaurant industry."
"No one was perhaps as familiar with those challenges as
Kathleen Harrington, a former GGRA Board President who passed
away in January. That is why the GGRA created the Kathleen Harrington
Civic Leadership Award, which it delivered for the first time
at this year's Toast of the Town," Westlye explained.