Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Crave BBQ Opens in Richmond

The barbecue brick-and-mortar restaurant from chef and recent 'Chopped' winner Rashad Armstead opened Thursday in the Shops at Hilltop.

by Katherine Hamilton
Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 3:43 PM


Rashad Armstead uses family recipes. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CRAVE BBQ
  • Photo courtesy of Crave BBQ
  • Rashad Armstead uses family recipes.

Barbecue lovers, take note: There's a new spot in Richmond to satisfy your barbecue cravings. Aptly named Crave BBQ, the nearly 5,000-square-foot restaurant opened last Thursday at 1207 Hilltop Mall Road.

Crave BBQ is the newest brick-and-mortar restaurant from chef Rashad Armstead. During the past few years, the Bay Area chef has made a name for himself starting with a catering company called Artistic Taste 7. In 2017, he started a Crave BBQ pop-up that took place at a former gas station in West Oakland. Crave BBQ was originally supposed to take up permanent residence at the historic California Hotel on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland, but the financial costs to build out the space just weren't feasible. Undeterred, Armstead opened Grammie's Down Home Chicken & Seafood in May at 3817 Market St. in North Oakland, and the small takeout spot has already soared in popularity. And just a couple of weeks ago, Armstead gained nationwide attention after winning an episode of Chopped.

After the restaurant's first lunch service on Thursday, Armstead said the community has already come out to support the new restaurant.

"We got a lot of people who showed up who work at the mall and in the neighborhood," Armstead said. "They've been loving it."

Armstead describes his barbecue as "Southern style" — it draws from his family's roots in Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas. He learned to barbecue from his father and great-uncle and uses a mixture of a spicy-sweet dry rub and a vinegar-based wet marinade on his meats. They're then slowly smoked over a wood fire: chicken for two to three hours, ribs for seven, and brisket for up to 17.

His side dishes are also based on family recipes. His potato salad is a variation on his great-grandmother Sarah Rawls' recipe. Rawls was a well-known Oakland restaurateur who also wrote four cookbooks and starred in her own cooking show; she's also the namesake of Grammie's Down Home Chicken & Seafood. According to Armstead, even Congresswoman Barbara Lee gave his potato salad — made with red potatoes, mustard, and sweet relish for a sweet-savory balance — a Texan stamp of approval. "She's like, 'Wow, this tastes just like I used to have back in Texas," Armstead said.

The opening day menu was short and sweet, limited to ribs, chicken, and hot links, plus baked beans and potato salad. Armstead plans to add brisket, collard greens, mac and cheese, and blue cornbread to the menu. For dessert, there'll be grilled peach cobbler, and to drink, there'll be berry lemonade and sweet tea. A beer and wine license is in the works. Armstead also likes to keep things interesting, so keep an eye out for more unusual items that'll be added to the menu in the future, like a hot link corn dog made with blue corn.

"I'm not afraid to take those same traditional flavors that we're used to, but just throw different things in there to kind of throw everybody off," he said.

But Crave BBQ is about more than just good food. At both of his restaurants, Armstead plans to employ young people so he can teach them the skills and work ethic required to work in a restaurant. At Crave, he hopes to partner with Making Waves Academy, a local charter school, and Beyond Emancipation, an Oakland organization that supports young people emancipating from foster care.

Armstead also wants to transform Crave BBQ into a go-to place for events in the area. Starting in September, the restaurant will regularly host blues and jazz bands, as well as comedy nights and open mics.

"We're gonna make it into something great, because that area needs it right now," Armstead said.

Crave BBQ, at 1207 Hilltop Mall Road, is open Tuesday through Sunday from noon to 7 p.m. To learn more, visit ICraveBBQ.com or follow crave_bbq on Instagram.

Photo courtesy Crave BBQ

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

KONO Food Alley Brings New Lunchtime Options to the Neighborhood

The food vendor lineup includes Tacos y Chelas, Javi's Cooking, and Curbside Kitchen.

by Katherine Hamilton
Tue, Aug 6, 2019 at 4:30 PM


George Dy is the producer of KONO Food Alley. - PHOTO BY TAMMY CHUNG @YMMATAMMY
  • Photo by Tammy Chung @ymmatammy
  • George Dy is the producer of KONO Food Alley.

This Monday, a wealth of new lunchtime options arived in the Koreatown-Northgate, or KONO, neighborhood with the KONO Food Alley. The KONO Food Alley is a collection of food stands and food trucks that appear at the outdoor space in front of 3188 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland every Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. from now until October 10.

Five vendors have been confirmed so far. One is Tacos y Chelas (TacosYChelas.oak), a taco stand headed by chef-owner Gerardo Avila, who has worked at Bay Area restaurants including Nido. Another is Javier Sandes of Javi's Cooking (@javiscooking). Sandes is best known for his Argentinian empanadas, which he also sells at his brick-and-mortar in West Oakland. There's also Curbside Kitchen (@curbside.kitchen), a Filipino-American fusion pop-up from Ray Lozano that serves Filipino burgers and tocino loaded fries. Beverages are provided by Dripdash (@dripdash), which serves Kyoto drip coffee, and LaVidaBoba (@la_vidaboba), a Latinx boba vendor.

The producer of the KONO Food Alley, George Dy, created this summer pop-up as a way to "bring culinary diversity to the KONO area," he said.

"I was pretty frustrated with how traditional dining environments were created," Dy said. Dy brings years of experience with commercial real estate, design, and property management. His last food venture was a commissary kitchen called Kitchen 1014, which allowed caterers to build their businesses within a fully licensed and permitted kitchen — enabling them to bypass many expensive and time-consuming requirements of starting a new business.

When selecting vendors, Dy looked for what he calls "chef-hustlers" — food businesses serving creative, delicious food that haven't yet amassed a large following on social media.

"I'm sure we all know food trucks in the area that are very popular," Dy said. "It's just kind of hard to get your name out sometimes when you're a new food vendor."

Dy hopes that with the launch of KONO Food Alley, guests will talk to the vendors and learn more about their stories and spread the word about their businesses via social media.

"I want [guests] to learn about the vendors and where they came from," Dy said. "Each of these vendors has a really cool background and cool story."

"And I want people to understand that it's not just the food that they're eating, but the people that they're supporting," he added.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Restore Oakland Opens in the Fruitvale District

The job training facility and community resource center brings together several nonprofits, including La Cocina and Restaurant Opportunities Center United.

by Katherine Hamilton
Wed, Jul 31, 2019 at 1:00 AM


Fekkak Mamdouh is the co-founder and CEO of ROC United. - PHOTO BY BROOKE ANDERSON
  • Photo by Brooke Anderson
  • Fekkak Mamdouh is the co-founder and CEO of ROC United.

Last Tuesday, approximately 200 community leaders, organizers, restaurant workers, and community members gathered to celebrate the opening of Restore Oakland, a long-awaited job training facility and community resource center in the Fruitvale district.

Restore Oakland is a first-of-its-kind, multi-story hub that houses several social justice-oriented nonprofits. It was created after hosting several community meetings to find out what resources were most wanted and needed in the neighborhood. It's now the permanent home of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, a nonprofit aimed at reducing incarceration rates and improving resources for communities of color. It's also home to Causa Justa/Just Cause, a grassroots organization that builds Brown-Black unity, combats unjust housing policies, and fights the criminalization of immigrants. Other partners include Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth and Community Works.

The space is also home to a number of resources for restaurant workers and food entrepreneurs. Restaurant Opportunities Center United, which purchased the building along with the Ella Baker Center, will offer a variety of resources. ROC, which was founded in New York City in 2001 by Fekkak Mamdouh and Saru Jayaraman, is aimed at improving working conditions and wages for people working in the restaurant industry — particularly for women and people of color. It's something that's especially needed in the Bay Area: A 2016 ROC study found that the Bay Area has the largest race wage gap in the country, with workers of color making an average of $6.12 less per hour than their white counterparts.

The ground floor will be home to ROC's COLORS Restaurant, a full-service restaurant that offers hands-on job training, hires from the community, and pays a livable wage. The restaurant, which has locations in New York and Detroit, is expected to open in the fall.

Meanwhile, ROC will continue to offer its Culinary and Hospitality Opportunities for Workers program, which provides free bartending and service classes for those who are just getting started in the restaurant industry or who are looking for a pathway into higher-paying front-of-house positions. "Even though I have been serving for over eight years, I definitely feel like because I'm a brown woman with an accent ... I run into a lot of ... 'where have you served; what experience do you have; do you know about wine,'" said Carolina Santos, an experienced cook, server, and food business owner who has completed CHOW's bartending and serving classes.

"It's like a bridge," she said. "It helps folks transition from the back of the house to the front, if that's what they are willing to do."

Food incubator La Cocina, based in San Francisco, has opened its first East Bay workspace at Restore Oakland. Geetika Agrawal, program director at La Cocina, said there's plenty of demand for La Cocina's services in the East Bay, particularly in the Fruitvale district.

"A lot of the lower working-class communities, and especially immigrant communities and Latin communities, were moving to the East Bay," Agrawal said. "There was room for doing more effective outreach and connecting in with other communities that maybe we don't have the same established relationship with." As of January, 42 percent of La Cocina's active businesses in incubation and 50 percent of all businesses La Cocina serves (including graduates) come from the East Bay.

Oakland's La Cocina will focus on community outreach. There'll be orientations offered in English and Spanish for those interested in starting their own food businesses. (The next orientation will be 6-8 p.m. Wed., Oct. 6.) It'll also serve as the space for La Cocina's drop-in market, allowing budding food entrepreneurs to offer samples of their products and pitch their business ideas to small business partners.

"The Bay Area is changing so much, and it feels really exciting to know there's an anchor building in the Fruitvale, really meant to serve the Fruitvale," said Agrawal.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Chef Nora Haron Is Back in Oakland as a Pop-Up

Her new Fuck-You-Up-Bakery (aka FYUB) debuts Saturday at Orbit Coffee and Doughnuts.

by Katherine Hamilton
Fri, Jul 19, 2019 at 4:00 AM

Ever since Drip Line closed last summer, my weekends have been spent mourning the absence of chef Nora Haron’s cooking in the East Bay. At the West Oakland cafe, Haron, who was born in Singapore and is of Indian and Indonesian descent, served up California-infused dishes inspired by her upbringing, such as Singapore chicken rice, coconut cream shrimp and grits, and koji fried chicken and waffles.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this sentiment, but for East Bay fans of Haron’s food, there’s good news: Haron is returning to Oakland in pop-up bakery form. The pop-up is entitled FYUB (Fuck-You-Up-Bakery) and will feature a range of mainly Southeast Asian-inspired baked goods, many with tongue-in-cheek or profanity-filled names.

This Saturday’s menu will include “Karen from Finances” Kaya Buns (baked buns stuffed with caramel kaya, a coconut butter), “No Bullshit” Banana Nut Bread (gluten-free and vegan), chicken curry turnovers (made using her grandfather’s curry recipe), chocolate mini loaves, moringa cloud cake, and “Conscienceless” pandan-coconut-butterscotch cookies with Maldon sea salt. Prices range from $3 to $9. “It’s something different — I guess it’s another side of me,” Haron said. “I’m kinda funny sometimes like that.”

The inaugural pop-up will take place at Orbit Coffee and Doughnuts (1225 Seventh St., Suite C) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, July 20. The newcomer West Oakland specialty coffee and doughnut shop, which has only been open for three months, will be serving “Drano Drip” coffee from Red Planet Roasters, along with a selection of teas. Free RSVPs on Eventbrite are suggested but not required.

Future pop-up dates will take place approximately every other week, with locations likely alternating between Oakland and San Francisco. For future FYUB pop-up locations, dates, and hours, follow FYUB on Facebook @theFYUB or on Instagram @the_fyub.

Meanwhile, Haron is also back in the kitchen serving up some of the savory dishes she was known for at Drip Line — but for now, you’ll have to cross the Bay in order to get a taste. In May, she became executive chef at Local Kitchen in SoMa (330 First St., #1, San Francisco) where she’s serving favorites from the Drip Line menu like Singapore chicken rice, gado gado salad, and her shiitake-beef blended burger.

Soon, though, Haron plans to open another restaurant in Oakland. Haron told the Express that her new restaurant will be named Bijan, which translates to sesame. The menu will be a scaled-down version of the Southeast Asian-inspired fare she’s serving right now at Local Kitchen, along with baked goods.

“I love Oakland, and I live in West Oakland. This opportunity [in] San Francisco came first, which is why I left,” Haron said. “But I’m back.”

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

At The Damel, A Chef Tells the Story of His Life in Senegal, Argentina, and Brazil

The new Uptown Oakland restaurant serves Afro-Brazilian cuisine.

by Katherine Hamilton
Wed, Jul 17, 2019 at 1:00 AM

Chef Oumar Diouf has led a pretty interesting life. And at The Damel, his new Uptown Oakland restaurant that opened in June, he wants to tell his story through Afro-Brazilian cuisine.

Diouf was born in Senegal. He got his start cooking at age 13, when his father passed away. His mother had seven children, and watching her struggle to work and take care of household duties on her own, Diouf asked her to teach him to cook.

He helped his mother out in the kitchen until he went to college. After college, he headed to Argentina to pursue a career in soccer. When an injury sidelined his career, Diouf decided to attend culinary school. He went on to own restaurants in Argentina — his first was selling pizza and empanadas — then moved to Brazil, where he worked in hotels and catering businesses. As a caterer in Brazil, he served thousands of people at the World Cup and the Olympics.

During his time in Brazil, Diouf was struck by the similarities between Brazilian cuisine and the food he ate growing up. "In Bahia, which is the north of Brazil ... about 80 percent of their food was actually brought by slaves 500 years ago," Diouf said. "So those cooking style techniques, even the name[s are] very close from Africa — especially West Africa."

Those similarities, along with an Anthony Bourdain episode about the Bahia region, inspired Diouf to pursue an Afro-Brazilian style of cooking. In 2016, Diouf moved to the Bay Area, and soon after started a catering company called Afro-Brazilian Cuisine, or ABC. In addition to Afro-Brazilian Cuisine, he now runs The Damel, a casual, counter-service, permanent pop-up located inside 25th Street Taproom (2507 Broadway).

At The Damel, the menu reflects Diouf's lived experience in Senegal, Argentina, and Brazil. A section of the menu is devoted to baked Argentinian empanadas, most of which follow traditional recipes. But some empanadas, like the beef, chicken, and lamb, get a West African treatment by spicing them with ginger and garlic. Others, like the palmito (heart of palm) are inspired by Brazilian flavors and ingredients. The empanada-like fataya, meanwhile, is actually Senegalese — it's fried and stuffed with tuna and shrimp.

Diouf also draws from a range of influences when it comes to the appetizers. Coxinhas, or cone-shape deep-fried chicken croquettes, are a must-have in Brazil. Acarajé, or black-eyed pea fritters, are commonly found both in West Africa and Brazil. Sandwiches and salads are also on the menu, along with dibi, a Senegalese dish of grilled meat served with mustard and grilled onions. Diouf also plans to serve two daily specials, one from Senegal and one from Brazil, featuring dishes like ceebu jen (Senegalese jollof rice with fish) and feijoada (Brazilian meat and bean stew).

Above all, Diouf's goal is to demonstrate the influence of African cuisine — not just in Brazil, but all over the world.

"A lot of dance has African background, a lot of fashion has African background, but food, too, has an African background," Diouf said. "And that's what I want to stand for — to try to take back what's from us and have people that want to find more about their ancestors ... eating the same food their ancestors brought from Africa to here."

The Damel is currently open for dinner and is experimenting with lunch hours. Late-night empanadas are also available on Fridays and Saturdays until 2 a.m., and weekend brunch is coming soon. To learn more, visit TheDamel.com.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Free Range Flower Winery Celebrates Its First Anniversary

The Oakland winery is holding three celebratory events this week at alaMar, Revival Bar & Kitchen, and Wine & Design.

by Katherine Hamilton
Tue, Jul 9, 2019 at 2:56 PM


Say cheers to first anniversary for Free Range Flower Winery. - PHOTO BY LOUISA SPIER
  • Photo by Louisa Spier
  • Say cheers to first anniversary for Free Range Flower Winery.

This week, Free Range Flower Winery in Oakland is celebrating its first anniversary in business with events at alaMar, Revival, and Wine & Design. It's one of the few flower wineries in the country — and the only in California, according to Free Range Flower Winery's owner and winemaker Aaliyah Nitoto, who founded the business along with former Express contributor Sam Prestianni.

For the uninitiated, flower wine is made entirely from flowers rather than grapes. Though many people today have never tried flower wine, it's actually part of a longstanding tradition of garden wines that were made in many parts of the world — often by women. According to Nitoto, flower wines were actually the earliest wines made in the United States. In the past hundred years or so, flower wines have become virtually unknown, and Nitoto is part of the movement to bring them back.

Free Range Flower Winery currently offers three types of flower wines. "L" Lavender Wine, which was the first wine Free Range Flower Winery produced, is a dry, lightly effervescent wine made of lavender flowers, with notes of licorice and juniper. There's also a Sunset International Wine Competition Silver Award-winning wine called RoseHybiscus, made of a blend of rose petals and hibiscus flowers for a flavor that's earthy, rounded, fruity, and herbal. For the anniversary, Flower Winery will also be offering tastes of the newest "R" Rose Petal wine, which Nitoto describes as having a "spicy flavor that's more on the smoky side." A marigold wine is also in the works and is expected to be released in time for the holiday season.

Nitoto said that after a year in business, the community has received her flower wines even better than she expected. At the very first pop-up, she sold out of lavender wine. Ever since then, the small-batch winery has "just been trying to play catch up with the momentum," she said. Part of the appeal, Nitoto said, is that flower wines are such a unique experience for many customers.

"When I serve it to people, I preface it by saying, what I want you to do is take any expectation that you have about wine out of your mind and just let the experience tell you what it is. Let the wine tell you what it is. When they drink it, they're like, 'Oh my god, you're right, this is like nothing I've ever had before."

To celebrate the winery's anniversary, three events will take place in Oakland and Berkeley. The first is a dinner on Thursday, July 11, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at alaMar in Oakland (100 Grand Ave., Suite No. 111). Chef Nelson German has created a special menu of dishes like charred heirloom carrots and braised oxtails, which are designed to pair with each of the three wines. There's also a dinner on Friday, July 12, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Revival Bar & Kitchen in Berkeley (2102 Shattuck Ave.) featuring dishes from Chef Amy Murray like trout roe deviled eggs and beet and burrata salad. Lastly, there'll be a tasting event on Sunday, July 14, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Wine & Design in Oakland (204 Broadway) where guests can taste flights of wine accompanied by cheese and charcuterie plates from Piece & Love Meals, and even paint their own wine glasses for an extra fee. Reservations are recommended; to reserve, visit FreeRangeFlowerWinery.com.

Photo by Louisa Spier

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Matcha, Shaved Ice, and Taro Balls, Oh My!

Amausaan Uji Matcha in Berkeley and Meet Fresh in Oakland offer two new ways to get your frozen dessert on.

by Katherine Hamilton
Tue, Jul 2, 2019 at 3:06 PM

The pudding and Q mochi shaved ice at Meet Fresh — yummy­. - PHOTO BY KATHERINE HAMILTON
  • Photo by Katherine Hamilton
  • The pudding and Q mochi shaved ice at Meet Fresh — yummy­.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I've never needed an excuse to eat dessert. But here are two, in case you needed them: Two new dessert shops have opened in the East Bay in recent weeks, and both offer desserts that are rarely found elsewhere in the East Bay.

Meet Fresh (362 8th St., Unit C, Oakland), a Taiwan-based dessert chain, recently opened its first Oakland location in Chinatown after months of anticipation. There's a massive selection of desserts on offer, ranging from shaved ice, taro balls served hot or cold, grass jelly served hot or cold, tofu pudding, red bean soup, purple rice desserts, and small bites like mochi and mung bean cakes. You'll also find a full menu of drinks, ranging from wintermelon tea to milk tea to herbal tea and "fluffy" tea.

One hot afternoon, I went for the pudding and Q mochi shaved ice, which is listed as one of Meet Fresh's five most popular desserts. What I received was an impressively tall shaved ice — too big even for two ambitious eaters to finish — with a scoop of ice cream precariously balanced on top. The shaved ice comes drizzled with brown sugar syrup and condensed milk, giving it a refreshing creamy, caramelized flavor. Toppings surround the mountain of ice, including entire rounds of egg pudding and almond pudding, jelly noodles, white and black logs of mochi, and mini purple and orange taro balls. True to its name, the toppings — especially the jelly noodles and mochi — have that satisfying "Q" texture, meaning they're springy and chewy like boba. Flakes of coconut on top, meanwhile, add a hint of crispy texture and toasty flavor. At nearly $10, it's not a cheap treat, but the portion size and taste justify the price if you bring along a couple of friends to help you finish it.

Meanwhile, over in downtown Berkeley, Amausaan Uji Matcha (1950 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley), a Chinese chain, specializes in all things matcha — think crepe cakes, hot and cold drinks, matcha ice, parfaits, and soft-serve ice cream. Guests are greeted at the door by a statue of a rabbit wearing a red kimono and holding a matcha parfait. It's primarily a table service spot, and you'll find adorable rabbit-themed decor throughout the restaurant.

I tried the uji matcha soft serve, which comes in your choice of a regular cone or an Instagram-worthy black cone. The black cone earns more style points than flavor points. My server informed me it was colored with charcoal, though the charcoal wasn't intended to add any flavor. Still, the cone was crisp and slightly sweet, with a hint of vanilla flavor. It's a good complement to the matcha soft serve, which was packed with grassy, slightly bitter, toasty matcha flavor. The soft serve definitely leans toward light and refreshing rather than rich and heavy, making it perfect for a summer treat.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Coworking and Cal-Italian Cuisine Come Together

The Lede, a new casual eatery inside Old Oakland’s Studiotobe coworking space, is expected to open this summer.

by Katherine Hamilton
Tue, Jun 25, 2019 at 4:10 PM

There’s a comfy patio at The Lede. - PHOTO BY MIKE MAGES
  • Photo by Mike Mages
  • There’s a comfy patio at The Lede.

Ever wished you could work remotely while snacking on some quality tinned fish, chowing on a duck leg, or drinking a negroni? Meet The Lede, a new Cal-Italian, casual restaurant that's expected to open inside Old Oakland's Studiotobe this August.

The restaurant is a partnership between Cal Peternell, who was a chef at Chez Panisse for 22 years until leaving his post in 2017 (he's also the author of the 2019 James Beard Award-nominated cookbook Almonds, Anchovies, and Pancetta) and Kit Taylor of Emeryville's Prizefighter, who will lead the restaurant's bar program. The cuisine is described as Cal-Italian — "like California-Italian ... but it's also [Cal's] name," said Taylor.

The menu will feature bar snacks like tinned fish and fried snacks, a few pastas, a seasonal vegetable, and a duck leg. As for drinks, expect a couple Italian classic cocktails like a negroni and a spritz, a short and sweet menu of five signature cocktails, and an Italian-heavy wine list, all of which are designed to complement the food menu. The menu is intended to be flexible, ideal for those looking for anything from a light snack to a cocktail to a full meal. It's a big departure from Peternell's fine dining past, but Peternell said he's looking forward to the change.

"I had a great time there [at Chez Panisse] and I learned a lot and made lots of great contacts and lots of great friends," he said. "I was sorry that more of my friends couldn't really afford to eat there. ... So I felt like if I were to ever open another restaurant, it would be something more casual, more affordable, and more accessible. And fun. And delicious."

For those unfamiliar with Studiotobe, it's a coworking space focused on podcasting, storytelling, and journalism opened in April 2018 in the former Pacific Coast Brewing space (906 Washington St.). Joaquin Alvarado, Ken Ikeda, and Kristen Belden founded the coworking space, which currently has about 50 members. Podcasts like Snap Judgment and Peternell's cooking-centric podcast Cooking By Ear are produced there. It's a fitting space for journalism given that the Oakland Tribune once called this block home.

In a nod to the space's journalistic past and present, The Lede is named after the journalism term "lede," meaning the introduction or main point of a story. Taylor and Peternell hope The Lede will help introduce the public to Studiotobe through its food and drinks. But the name also acknowledges the ties between food and storytelling and a hope for how the two businesses will work together. During lunch and dinner service, Studiotobe members and the public alike will be able to grab a bite to eat side-by-side, offering members of the public the opportunity to talk with journalists, storytellers, and podcasters.

"I've always been attracted to the way that food and drink can engender storytelling and storymaking," Peternell said. "What we want to do is serve people delicious food and drinks that allow them to connect around the table and tell their stories — and maybe make new stories."

Friday, June 14, 2019

Flint’s BBQ Is Coming Back to the Town

The historic, long-shuttered beloved Oakland BBQ joint is returning this summer as a pop-up.

by Katherine Hamilton
Fri, Jun 14, 2019 at 3:33 PM

Granddaughter Crystal Martin is leading the revival. - PHOTOS BY CRYSTAL MARTIN
  • Photos by Crystal Martin
  • Granddaughter Crystal Martin is leading the revival.

Ask any longtime Bay Area resident about Flint’s, and they’ll tell you a story. Maybe they used to wait in line for Flint’s after parties or concerts at the Coliseum. Maybe they even drove from as far away as San Francisco, San Jose, or Sacramento to get their Flint’s.

Flint’s BBQ opened in 1968. At its peak, Flint’s had a total of three locations in Oakland, with lines that often wrapped around the block. The last Flint’s BBQ closed in 2010. But for those who thought they’d never experience the taste of Flint’s legendary barbecue sauce again, there’s good news: Flint’s is coming back to Oakland this August as a pop-up.

“There’s history, and then there’s Flintstory,” said Steve Dorsey, spokesperson for Flint’s BBQ. “And that’s the impetus to bring it back.”

The person leading the Flint’s revival is Crystal Martin, the granddaughter of one of the original owners, Willie Flintroy, and the step-granddaughter of the last living original owner, Margaret Flintroy. With the blessing of Margaret Flintroy, Martin is bringing back the original recipes for loyal Flint’s fans to enjoy.

Some might simply see it as a return of some of Oakland’s most legendary barbecue. But Dorsey suggests the return of Flint’s signifies something bigger. It’s a throwback to the time of Tower of Power, the Black Panthers, and the Festival at the Lake, before Oakland’s most recent wave of gentrification.

“So much negative over the years has been written about Oakland,” Dorsey said. “But it doesn’t talk about the people who make up Oakland. Here’s a positive light for Oakland that Oakland lit. ...It started in Oakland, but it was the Oakland love, it was the Oakland loyalty that lit the fire. ...It’s the work ethic, it’s the pride. And that’s what this is all about. We want to bring something that is Oakland back.”

In keeping with its Oakland roots, the first pop-up will take place in West Oakland at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 1023 Peralta Street, on Sunday, August 4, from noon to 5 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance on Eventbrite for $33. The ticket includes a dinner plate with ribs, chicken, mac and cheese, baked beans, string beans, potato salad, bread, and a drink. In true Flint’s tradition, diners can also select from mild, medium, and “hella” hot sauce. Margaret Flintroy will be present at the pop-up to talk about Flint’s, and there’ll also be a DJ for all to enjoy.

The August pop-up in Oakland is the first of what Martin hopes will be a series of pop-ups around the entire Bay Area. As a lifelong Oakland resident, Martin also wants to do something about the homelessness crisis in Oakland, and will host several giveaways for unhoused people. Eventually, she plans to open a food truck, and someday, open another Flint’s BBQ brick and mortar. Dorsey says Flint’s will be back better than ever.

“Let’s just roll up our sleeves and really make this something even more special than it was,” he said. “Not sitting on your past laurels, but really believing in setting a new standard.”

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

La Cocina Releases a Cookbook

'We Are La Cocina' Features the recipes of some of the East Bay's best-loved food entrepreneurs.

by Katherine Hamilton
Tue, Jun 11, 2019 at 3:44 PM

Eric Wolfinger, Caleb Zigas, and Leticia Landa collaborated on the new cookbook. - PHOTO BY ERIC WOLFINGER
  • Photo by Eric Wolfinger
  • Eric Wolfinger, Caleb Zigas, and Leticia Landa collaborated on the new cookbook.

It's no secret that some of the Bay Area's most beloved chefs are graduates of La Cocina, the San Francisco incubator that helps low-income women, immigrants, and people of color start their own food businesses. Last week, La Cocina released its first cookbook entitled We Are La Cocina, which features over 75 recipes and stories from over 40 of its successful entrepreneurs — including many in the East Bay.

If you've ever wondered how to make the kuy teav Phnom Penh from Nite Yun's restaurant Nyum Bai or the mac and cheese and rosemary fried chicken from Fernay McPherson's restaurant Minnie Bell's Soul Movement, look no further. Other East Bay food entrepreneurs featured in the cookbook include Reem Assil of Reem's with her recipes for muhammara, fattoush, and sfeeha; Dionne Knox of Zella's Soulful Kitchen with a recipe for cream biscuits and strawberry-hibiscus jam; Dilsa Lugo of Los Cilantros with recipes for sopes and esquites; Tina Stevens of A Girl Named Pinky with her carrot cake recipe; and Hang Truong of Noodle Girl with recipes for pho bo and ca kho to (braised fish).

Those who miss the mixiotes from Alma Rodrigues of Mixiote (back in its days as a pop-up at UC Berkeley and at Plum Bar) will also find her recipe here, and those who can't wait for Lamees Dahbour's new kiosk at the Emeryville Public Market will encounter her recipe for maqluba (an upside-down rice dish that she prepares with vegetables). Readers will also come across stories from Tiffany Esquivel and Sylvee Chitica of Hella Vegan Eats and Antoinette Sanchez of Endless Summer Sweets.

The cookbook is authored by Caleb Zigas, executive director of La Cocina, and Leticia Landa, La Cocina's deputy director. The book also features over 200 photos by award-winning photographer Eric Wolfinger and a foreword by Isabel Allende.

We Are La Cocina is published by San Francisco publisher Chronicle Books and retails for $29.95. All of the authors' proceeds from sales of the book go to support La Cocina. The national book tour is making three more San Francisco stops this summer: June 17 at Commonwealth Club, June 26 at the CUESA Ferry Building, and July 18 at 18 Reasons. To learn more, visit LaCocinaSF.org or ChronicleBooks.com.

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