Heena Patel is the chef and co-owner of
A regional Gujarati restaurant in San Francisco’s
Dogpatch district. Roughly translated to mean “shameless,” Besharam features Heena’s bold
interpretation of the flavors and dishes that were prevalent throughout her childhood in India,
playfully reimagined within a California context.
Born in Mumbai, India to parents
from Gujarat, a lush region with a strong culinary lineage grounded in vegetarian cuisine, the
kitchen was Heena’s home. While she absorbed techniques and the rich symphony of spices and
flavors in her mother and aunt’s cabinets, her love for food was truly uncovered on the streets
of Mumbai, where she devoured everything from pav bhajji to idli sambhar. When Heena relocated
to London and, subsequently, California, to begin her married life with her husband (and now
Besharam co-owner), Paresh Patel, she carried her passion for cooking with her.
and Paresh raised their children in the Bay Area, Heena dreamed of a day when she would open a
restaurant. At home, she continued to experiment in the kitchen, reimagining the traditional
Gujarati dishes from her childhood with California ingredients, including a family favorite blue
cheese naan. In 2014, Heena parlayed her ambitions into a residency with Bay Area culinary
incubator La Cocina, initially with plans to start a mobile food business. Following a
transformative dinner at State Bird Provisions, Heena honed in on her vision for what would
eventually be unearthed at Besharam -- a fine dining experience ungoverned by provenance and
reflective of her distinct journey and point of view.
During stints at State Bird Provisions and
Jardiniere, Heena continued to push the boundaries of the traditional Indian recipes from her
childhood, absorbing new techniques and ingredients to express her cross-cultural identity. She
began garnering attention among locals with her mobile business, Rasoi, at San Francisco’s
iconic Ferry Building, but still dreamt of the day when she would run her own restaurant. In
2018, an opportunity presented itself to partner with Minnesota Street Project, a contemporary
art gallery space with a small restaurant space tucked within. Heena transformed the interior to
reflect her vivid vision for Besharam, a shameless leap of self-expression where she could
finally bring life to her aspirations.
Since the restaurant’s opening, Heena has
received local and national attention for her fearless style including accolades from Eater San
Francisco as the Restaurant of the Year in 2019. At Besharam, Heena offers an experience that is
unmistakably hers, while paying homage to her heritage and every chapter that has informed the
journey to this moment.
Tucked inside Minnesota Street Project, a
contemporary art gallery space within San Francisco’s historic Dogpatch district, Besharam is an
Indian restaurant showcasing regional Gujarati cuisine from chef/owner Heena Patel.
Besharam, Heena’s culinary voice is on display with a plant-based menu that showcases her
personal journey as a chef, rooted in the traditional dishes and techniques she absorbed from
her mother and aunt during her upbringing and localized through seasonal California ingredients
that reflect Heena’s adulthood in the Bay Area. The menu is a marriage of these experiences,
continuously evolving with new inspirations while showcasing Heena’s nuanced approach.
are invited to join Heena on a tour through Gujarat, a lush region with a strong culinary
lineage grounded in vegetarian cuisine.
This heritage is showcased at Besharam through
menu sections named for the major cities within: Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, and Rajkot. The
wine list and beverage program are thoughtfully composed to complement the menu with cocktails
drawing inspiration from the kitchen spice cabinet.
Mirroring the creative spirit of the
Minnesota Street Project, Besharam features custom artwork from HateCopy pop artist Maria Qamar,
who depicts the life and times of first generation Desi diaspora in her pieces.