The Last Word: Andrea G. Cope


Partner, Burr, Pilger & Mayer LLP
San Francisco, California

COOKING HAS BEEN A PASSION, since I was about five years old. I can vividly remember Julia Child in one of her first PBS broadcasts. I was glued to the television watching this woman taking raw ingredients and making fabulous-sounding dishes. Even at five, I liked the process.

IN COLLEGE, I WAS AN ANIMAL SCIENCE MAJOR; I was going to be a veterinarian. But I took some accounting classes and got an A and decided I really liked it. I graduated with a business degree with an accounting specialty and then worked for two firms in California.

I WAS THE ASSISTANT CONTROLLER OF THE HOUSTON SYMPHONY for about six months, until I got homesick and came back to California. Then I worked as a business manager for a company in the entertainment industry, working with movie executives and rock stars. That was very interesting. There were some big names there—Chicago and Don Henley. I was the manager on their accounts; I did all their family office work and their loan-out corporations and royalty reconciliations. But I just couldn’t stop thinking about cooking.

SO I ATTENDED THE CALIFORNIA CULINARY ACADEMY in San Francisco and then worked for six months at the Ritz-Carlton at Laguna Niguel. But I came to the conclusion that because I started working in the kitchen at an older age, I might not meet some of my retirement goals. So I joined Burr, Pilger & Mayer in San Francisco, where I head up the restaurant industry group.

FOR THE FIRST TWO YEARS AT BPM, I had a catering business. That was fun, but it just got to be too much with public accounting and then going home and cooking until midnight and then getting up at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning and doing it again.

I STILL KEEP MY FINGERS IN THE CULINARY WORLD, mostly for friends and family. It’s a great way to show clients that I’m credible, because I’ve worked in the kitchen and in the front of the house. I understand the lingo. I’m also the resident what-to-serve and what-wine-to-match-up person here at the firm.

SO MANY CHEFS OUT THERE don’t have a solid understanding of how to run a business. We teach the staff the ins and outs of how a restaurant should be run. We help clients with menu pricing and the forecasts and projections for new restaurant opportunities. We can really make a difference and help these folks get out of the gate well prepared.

I LOVE COOKING ITALIAN FOOD; that’s probably my favorite cuisine. I make a killer Bolognese sauce that I give out to friends and family members. I like making pastries, too. I make a mean apple cobbler.

—As told to Paul Bonner


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