Thomas McNaughton, Chef and Partner
Thomas has a long career in the culinary industry; he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and gained valuable experience working for premier bay area restaurants La Folie, Gary Danko and Quince in addition to stints at Michelin-rated restaurants in France, Germany and Italy. The deepest connection for Thomas comes from the hands of farmers, artisanal producers and small productions within the neighborhood.
Just prior to beginning work on the opening of flour + water, Tom spent a good deal of time in a Bologna pasta factory honing his chops with all the hand rolled varieties under the watchful eyes of “committed artisans”.
David White, Managing Partner
David White, hailing from Co. Laoise, Ireland has been banging around restaurants since he was 19. He began as a dishwasher at the Hilton hotel in Cannes while on a summer break from university. After he graduated he started waiting tables as a way to travel. “I’m not sure I if I ended up in this business by accident or destiny,” says White, “almost 20 years later it is in my blood, it’s that simple”
After landing in San Francisco in 1997 he worked in a variety of capacities in a host of well respected restaurants including Postrio, Plouf, Scalas, Eos, Momo’s Chez Papa, and Quince. These experiences culminated in Nua Restaurant and Wine Bar, which he co-designed, built and ran.
Food and wine are inseparable for David and something he views as intertwined cultures that grew up hand in hand. “I love the unending surprise that wine offers; it’s a never-ending journey. The more you learn, the more you realise you do not yet know. I love encountering a new wine for the first time”
Influences and interests are many, and range from photography and far-flung travel to snowboarding, sailing and his nationality: “What it is to be truly Irish is not something that is easy to explain to someone who is not.”
If a committed Irishman in San Francisco opening a restaurant that features artisanal pasta, pizza and cured meats seems odd at first glance, know this: the potato and the tomato are both part of the Nightshade family.
David Steele, Managing Partner
David Steele merges the heart of a food entrepreneur with the brain of a born businessman. Eight years of restaurant experience—working both the back and front of the house—segued into 18 more working in finance, most recently as a Managing Director of a wealth management firm.
This combination of skills, inclinations and a Masters Degree in English Literature is mirrored in an aesthetic that prizes the modern and industrial as well as the somewhat under the radar school of “Steampunk.”
Being a New Jersey native, Steele knows pizza, but is emphatic about one thing, “flour + water is not a pizzeria,” he says. “It’s a restaurant that prizes the basics and prepares Italian food with conviction, authenticity and passion and then serves it at great value to our customers. It’s all about simplicity.”
An avid cyclist and student of yoga, David wouldn’t be without his Converse All Stars, an iPod play list heavy on Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, Pavement, and Radiohead, along with (you guessed it), a steady supply of pizza, pasta and good wine (heavy on the Brunellos and Rhones).
Sean Quigley, Interior Design & Construction
Sean Quigley grew up in a small Northern California town where he worked as a cabinet-maker and carpenter and in 1989 relocated to the Bay Area to attend college. Graduating Magna cum Laud in 1992, he opened his design-build company and retail store, Paxton Gate, that same year. Originally the two divisions operated out of a former carriage house — barely 500 square feet — in an alley near Market and Gough Streets. In 1999, after outgrowing the tiny space, both businesses were relocated to their current and more spacious Valencia Street digs. Most recently he expanded his portfolio by adding a children’s store, Paxton Gate’s Curiosities for Kids, just one block away from the main store and is in the process of launching an eCommerce venue featuring the wares that can be found at his stores.
Quigley has lived and worked in the Mission for close to 20 years. During that time he spent 14 years tending bar at various local establishments including Dr. Bombay’s (now Double Dutch), Casa Nova and Kilowatt. Bartending proved to be a great moonlighting gig while he built the businesses and he was finally able to leave it behind in 2003.
Paxton Gate Design is an extension of the impossible-to-describe retail store and defies easy categorization. It has been described as everything from “a Smith and Hawken on LSD” to “a constant source of inspiration.” Primarily creating outdoor spaces, they have on occasion ventured indoors, designing and building furniture, retail spaces, interiors, and now restaurants. In his interiors, Quigley is known for an accessible aesthetic often based in the natural sciences, that mixes time periods, materials and genres. His self-taught approach to design is simple, direct and unpretentious. “I don’t use tricks or established methods to make things work,” he says, “I just try to make things look good.”