Comfort Me With Cioppino

A San Francisco classic with a trans-Pacific spin from Allbirds Founders Tim Brown & Joey Zwillinger

Tim Brown grew up by the Pacific in Wellington, New Zealand, and Joey Zwillinger on the other side of the same ocean in San Francisco. Though many have tried to trace the exact origins of cioppino, none have really pinpointed it—though all roads point to San Francisco, where the local Italian immigrant fisherman adapted a Genoan seafood stew to whatever came in from the day’s catch. Both Joey and Tim appreciate not only the stew’s hearty aromas but its humble Bay Area roots and its celebration of the bounty of the Pacific.

While they were sharing the recipe with us, we had the chance to ask Tim and Joey a few questions about this most comforting dish.

When was the first time you both enjoyed this dish together?

Joey: I believe it was Christmas Eve 2016, with Tim and Lindsay away from families, and my wife Liz and I having off-and-on relationships with Santa stemming from a poor batch of cookies in the early 2000s, we enjoyed a good ol’ cioppino together with some (just drinkable) homemade wine.

Any equivalent to this stew back home in New Zealand, Tim?

Tim: I don’t know that there’s a seafood stew that immediately comes to mind, but fish and chips is the unofficial dish of New Zealand. It’s the ultimate comfort food when I go back home, and has similarly humble roots to cioppino: fishermen being resourceful, and making something delicious out of what’s left at the end of the day.

If shopping for this dish in San Francisco, where should we go to collect the ingredients?

Joey: Sun Fat Seafood in the mission is awesome, and if you’re looking for a deal on Dungeness Crab, Ranch 99 in Emeryville is a gem.

Joey, when was the first time you tasted cioppino? And, since you grew up there, we may as well ask: Who makes the best one in the Bay Area?

Joey: I can’t really recall my first, as I had them growing up all the time. My dad would stop at seafood places on Clement Street in the Richmond on his way home from work and pick up a smorgasbord from the sea to ‘chip into’ the pot. The Tadich Grill is pretty good, but my wife Liz takes home the blue ribbon for best cioppino in the Bay Area by a landslide.

This recipe is featured in “Holiday Comfort: A Cookbook” by Allbirds + Whalebone. Tim and Joey and the whole Allbirds crew teamed with Whalebone to collect some of the most comforting dishes from friends and fans. In addition to this San Francisco treat, the book features contributions from Oprah, Matthew McConaughey, Vaughan from Montauk Brew Co.’s dad, Jack Johnson, the seventh-best barista in Montauk, and David Chang, among many others. The cookbook is available at The World’s Most Comfortable Pop-Up and from

Tim and Joey’s Pacific Ocean Cioppino


Some olive oil (not much)
1 chopped white onion
2 shallots
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 to 4 diced tomatoes depending on desire for chunkiness
1 cup of white wine
4 cups of fish stock
1 bay leaf
A lot of seafood …. some variety … here are some of our favorites:

4–6 Dungeness crab legs
1 lb mussels
1 lb clams
1 lb wild-caught (if you can find it) shrimp
1/2 pound of sustainably caught or farmed steelhead trout
1/2 pound wild-caught salmon
Whatever else you find that is harvested sustainably (Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch is a good resource to help find sustainable choices)

Large pinch of salt
(optional) a handful of red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Sourdough baguette


Sauté the garlic, onion and shallots in the oil in a large dutch oven. After the onion has browned, add all the wine, fish stock and tomato items and stir. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add in the clams, mussels, and other shellfish items, and let cook for 5 minutes. Add in the fish, shrimp and remaining seafood items, as well as the bay leaf. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and if you like a kick, add the red pepper flakes. 

Make sure to discard any shellfish (mussels, clams) that do not open. Serve in large bowls with slices of toasted baguette to sop up the sauce, and enjoy!

Tim and Joey, photo Peter Prato.

About Tim and Joey: Having seen his fair share of sneakers as a professional athlete, Tim Brown understood the need for a simpler and more comfortable shoe. Being from New Zealand, wool immediately came to mind as the perfect material, and Tim began an extensive development process. After teaming up with San Francisco-based engineer and renewables expert, Joey Zwillinger, Allbirds was born with the goal of making things in a better way.