Every few months I stumble on a photo of the wacky owners of the Kitchen on Fire cooking school in Berkeley, mugging with ludicrously oversized knives or sticking weird objects in their mouths. Positioning themselves as bad-boy outsiders of the culinary community, they’re about as edgy as a mash-up of Guy Fieri and Penn and Teller. The taglines write themselves: They’re crazy….about cooking!
While People’s Grocery in West Oakland fights to attain economic sustainability, the food justice nonprofit made a different type of sustainable leap last week: solar panels were installed on the roof to provide 100% of their electricity.
If you recall, I’ve spent the last few months unsuccessfully courting Double D BBQ. The elusive dive with the storied reputation was always closed when I stopped by; they never responded to multiple voicemails and emails; and owner/chef Duane Orr wouldn’t react to my obvious attempts to smoke him (barbecue pun) out of seclusion. I was dying to try the legendary brisket and links, but my dignity was suffering.
After Elizabeth August gave up mobile food in disgust (check out her impassioned response to the 21Web closure) in early December, her Guerrilla Grub cart went on Craigslist. Don't worry everybody: it's staying in the East Bay.
It’s that magical time of year when cheapskates and dapper diners become as one. From January 20-29, many of Oakland’s ritzier dining destinations will offer three-course lunch menus for $20 or three-course dinners for $30 or $40. The participant list is heavy on tourist-driven and hotel restaurants, but I’d bypass the Marriott in favor of sure bets like Camino, Hibiscus, and Picán. A full list of restaurants can be found here.
This weekend’s Fancy Food Show in San Francisco was packed with success stories that would make Horatio Alger beam with pride. Take Hodo Soy Beanery, started in 2004 by a Vietnamese transplant who left a day job in finance to create artisanal soy goods. This wildly successful tofu operation now maintains a twelve-thousand-square-foot production facility in Oakland and just last week started selling its products through Costco. Or there’s Back to the Roots, a two-year-old startup that recycles used coffee grounds to grow mushrooms. Created by two UC Berkeley students with no food background, Back to the Roots has gained the vocal backing of Alice Waters and rescued millions of pounds of grounds from landfills, and is sold at Whole Foods stores across the country.
Dozens of progressive students from across North America converged on Berkeley this weekend, bearing cardboard name badges, vegan recipes, and bright-eyed ideas about how to shake up their college food-supply systems. With a rallying cry of “Occupy Your Plate!” the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive hosted a boot camp to help students create their own on-campus co-ops.
Was Cafe Gratitude too big to fail? Today the Bay Citizen brings word that all of the cafe's legal troubles are "resolved." Some of the NorCal locations will remain open, though they are not disclosing which ones, or the nature of the settlement.
Despite operating on a private lot, a small rotating food truck market at 21st Street and Webster was shut down last week by the City of Oakland. A $2,000 fine was levied on Hisuk Dong, owner of the event’s vacant lot space (he also owns nearby Mua).