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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Feature

Re: “A Worker's Life Under H&R Block

Gee I am surely glad that I came to read all of these comments...First of all I totally agree with the gentleman who provided the most information about the salaries..classes...etc..
I am about to take the class myself. There is no way that anyone can truly say that your first year or years after you would expect to make huge amounts of money! Be reasonable and for God's sakes be realistic..Thank You nice lady for your comment about taking classes to gain knowledge and only want to work for the season..I mean what happened to wanting to help people with their taxes after they have busted their humps all year long! I know that if you work hard at anything in life GOD will compensate you very well! In fact if we were more interested in helping others with their taxes..wouldn't they be more inclined to coming back to see you again next year?? Or tell others about how you handled their money?? If anyone went to a tax preparation class only to try & make lots of money...then you miss the whole thing! Further more to the young lady way up top on the first comment..I can see some of your concerns but really most of it was not realistic..you sound like a spoiled child..Thanks & have a great day.

Posted by Roxanne Miller on 09/03/2016 at 7:57 PM

Re: “Law Enforcement Killed 90 Oakland Residents Since 2000, And 74 Percent Were Black

I think we should be concerned with white collar criminals at City Hall as well. Especially the violent Peggy Moore who is quite chummy with the OPD and should be fired by Mayor Libby Schaff before the taint spreads. The Express article this week (Sept 3 now) points out she is a liar and a fraud, I'd add the word violent as an adjective here. A retired nurse says: "that's Peggy Moore. She's an opportunist." I've know said nurse for 45 years and I believe her.

Posted by John Tango Iversen on 09/03/2016 at 2:51 PM

Re: “Law Enforcement Killed 90 Oakland Residents Since 2000, And 74 Percent Were Black

Where are the statistics of violent crime committed by people of color in Oakland? Year over Year it has been increasing. Robberies, burglaries, etc...

After answering that question, then ask yourself is the number of deaths by OPD really that disproportionate. Hint, it's not.

Posted by Robert Hope on 09/03/2016 at 2:31 PM

Re: “Badge of Dishonor: Top Oakland Police Department Officials Looked Away as East Bay Cops Sexually Exploited and Trafficked a Teenager

As exhaustive as this report it, I find it incomplete. Where is your documentation of offering resources such as rehab and referrals to a therapist to the female identified as the victim? Where's the evidence of you probing her home life to uncover the root causes of her lifestyle choices? Was she molested in the home? If so, by whom? What involvement did her parents hvae etc? There is a major piece missing in this report, in order for it to be balanced.

Posted by Carmen Glover on 09/03/2016 at 5:14 AM

Re: “Cooking Other People's Food: How Chefs Appropriate Bay Area 'Ethnic' Cuisine

Listen to more Jazz, eat more Gumbo and stop writing stupid shit like this.

Posted by Gene Keenan on 09/03/2016 at 2:36 AM

Re: “Cooking Other People's Food: How Chefs Appropriate Bay Area 'Ethnic' Cuisine

Luke Tsai’s feature story in the August 24th edition is unequivocally the worst article I have read in this paper and it appears as though no one on the editorial staff chose to fact check this story before it was printed. I can say with a large degree of certainty that any person knowledgeable with restaurants in the East Bay can tear apart the factual accuracy of his writing within the first few paragraphs. These inaccuracies show a willful ignorance on the part of the writer as he contradicts himself, cherry picks his facts and sources and outright lies repeatedly throughout the course of this article to reach his conclusion.

First I will start by saying pedigreed chefs are pedigreed for a reason; it takes years of study, training, and practice to land a job in one of the top kitchens in the Bay Area. To start one of these highly anticipated restaurants, a chef must go above and beyond their peers at these top restaurants to attract the necessary investors. It is insulting for him to detract from the training and dedication it takes. I’m not taking anything away from the ethnic restaurants he mentions, but they do not hold themselves to parallel ingredient, preparation, or presentation standards that these pedigreed chefs require. The assertion that the industry is “rigged” shows a complete obliviousness on behalf of the writer.

I can not understand Tsai’s overt hostility toward chefs that want incorporate fusion within these ethnic dishes. I see no problem pairing sauerkraut with kebabs, in fact it’s innovative, it wouldn’t occur to most people. Many ethnic cuisines are heavily influenced by the availability of new ingredients; Europe didn’t have many vegetables, spices, coffee, or chocolate before traders brought them over on ships during the age of exploration, but they are now inseparable from their culinary traditions.

At one point he goes on a diatribe about the kefta meatballs at Penrose, a restaurant that does not even have any particular ethnic leaning. A wood fire oven, higher quality meat, a wine and cocktail selection, fancy plates and flatware is a sizable overhead. That is why you pay $20 versus $12. With all things considered, Aria has a higher profit margin on that dish. Aria is a takeout restaurant, they are not aspiring to offer the elevated standards at Penrose.

In the next paragraph, he partially retracts his ignorance about costs associated with fine dining only to ponder if immigrant run farm-to-table restaurants can enter the high end market. He follows that question with Preeti Mistry’s quote, “People are willing to pay more when the kitchen is full of straight white guys because they look like they should be paid more.” As someone who has worked in a number of fine dining restaurants in the Bay Area (front and back of the house) I can say that this statement does not hold a shred of truth and comes across as bitter ignorant ax grinding that makes me not want to visit her restaurant. Tsai was happy to highlight this particular quote but the Bay Area has a number of pedigreed ethnic chefs he failed to mention that are elevating the cuisine of their home countries and they do get attention and credit from world renowned food critics. There was no mention of James Syhabout, possibly the East Bay’s most critically acclaimed chef at the moment, but I guess Hawker Fare didn’t fit his narrative, and neither did Tamarindo, Ippuku, Yume, or Nido just to name a few, and there are many more.

Why does anyone pay more for fine dining? They use advanced techniques and great equipment, they have cocktail programs, wine lists, nice dinner wear, and beautiful ambiance/decor. The major point missed in this story is that these chefs, be they caucasian, ethnic, or immigrant, are making a statement saying that ethnic cuisine can be valid high end fare if they choose to buy direct from local farms, use better cooking fats, invest in proper equipment and create an atmosphere; that’s what you are paying for when a restaurant is high end, that is the very nature of restaurants.

I guarantee people aren’t ordering takeout from places like Penrose or Ramen Shop and conversely they aren’t having their anniversary dinners at Aria or Oasis. As the proprietor of a restaurant that is the first decision you must make, no matter what style of cuisine you choose to offer. If you change the concept, the restaurant will have an identity crisis and will alienate the established customer base. Among my many friends in the restaurant industry, Tsai’s reviews are viewed as a bad joke and this article highlights his incompetence as a food critic.

Posted by John-Paul de Veer on 09/02/2016 at 10:03 PM

Re: “Cooking Other People's Food: How Chefs Appropriate Bay Area 'Ethnic' Cuisine

So, why is it that when a formerly black or white neighborhood becomes overwhelmingly Hispanic or asian, a million taquerias or noodle houses replace the old diners, there is no outcry we only hear that "wonderful diversity or multiculturalism" is taking place. However, when whites move in and bring coffee shops, great restaurants and higher rents it is "evil gentrification"?

People regardless of race should be able to make any food they want, or else we should go after all those damn Chinese that have shitty hamburger and BBQ restaurants..not to mention the donut shops! Eat the food, or not, but to hate on someone for being successful is bottom of the barrel shit.

Posted by antiracist on 09/01/2016 at 5:35 PM

Re: “Cooking Other People's Food: How Chefs Appropriate Bay Area 'Ethnic' Cuisine

Miss Ollie's, Fusebox, Hawker Fare, Nido, Namu Gaji, Kin Khao, Aziza, and Mourad get plenty of attention. Should James Syhabout or Corey Lee catch flak for appropriating French culture?

The restaurant section of Oasis Food Market went way downhill. Has it come back? When I walked through a few months ago it didn't look like it had.

Posted by RobertLauriston on 09/01/2016 at 9:38 AM

Re: “Yelp and the Business of Extortion 2.0

what is really crazy is that this post comes from 2009, that's 7 years and YELP just keeps on moving. Very SAD for the business community

Posted by Casey Lewis 1 on 08/29/2016 at 3:26 PM

Re: “Cooking Other People's Food: How Chefs Appropriate Bay Area 'Ethnic' Cuisine

This is the new Oakland. They (always white, always with might) have the money and the power and the "in." Uber is leading the way. Within 5 years West Oakland will probably have a Whole Foods, wiping out local community farmers markets and these hipster high-so restaurants with their fake rustic/poverty porn ovens and grills will be everywhere. There is just no end to this parade of slick, well-heeled, heavily financed celebrity chef wannabes and their Moet swilling tech millionaire followers. When's this sh*t going to end? Looks like they've just begun.

Posted by Brian Lucas on 08/29/2016 at 9:01 AM

Re: “Top Ramen For Life: The Student Loan Crisis

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Posted by Serena Ann on 08/27/2016 at 1:26 AM

Re: “Cooking Other People's Food: How Chefs Appropriate Bay Area 'Ethnic' Cuisine

Very thoughtful article with lots to ponder. The Bruce Cost/Barbara Tropp feud comes to mind when two whites argued about being the better Chineese cook (both were sensational) and Trader Vic with his faux Polynesia. James Beard introducing his audience to pu-pu platters in his cookbooks. French and American chefs incorporating fusion flavors in the eighties. The Romans are in the midst of that now. I think the issue is sensitivity and respect and as Russ said if it brings people to the table everyone should benefit.

Posted by Dennis Lapuyade on 08/27/2016 at 12:35 AM

Re: “Cooking Other People's Food: How Chefs Appropriate Bay Area 'Ethnic' Cuisine

Luke makes many good points here about privilege, the comfort zone and expectations of audiences, etc. However, I do think the media plays an even larger role than Luke states. Los Angeles has Jonathan Gold, who is as adventurous and knowledgeable about all kinds of cuisine as any critic in existence. Many really great places, a majority of which are run by immigrants cooking food from their culture, are given business-altering attention by Gold's writing. This has a cascade effect, in that illuminating the often challenging Southern Thai cooking of Jitlada then opens up people's palates and minds to other Thai places doing unfamiliar things. Is Luv2Eat Thai a huge success within its first year (!) without the groundwork of Jitlada and Jonathan Gold? I doubt it.

The Bay Area (and primarily SF) has traditionally been covered by Michael Bauer and collectively the places he writes about are very different than Gold's portfolio. This has undoubtedly informed the palates of the Bay Area. Why is it a big surprise, then, that people prefer Comal to El Paisa when nobody even bothers to review El Paisa (until Luke did so last year, 7 years after it opened)? For years, Chowhound was a far better place to learn about interesting eateries than any of the normal media outlets (and its descent into uselessness is a sad story for another day). But CH fame isn't enough by any stretch to lead thousands of people to try a place or cuisine or dish that's outside their comfort zone, to turn Jitlada into JITLADA. It's not impossible: Burma Superstar has turned everybody into a tea leaf salad expert; Turtle Tower is the reference for many people's pho ga. These places are out there, but we need help separating the good from the mediocre.

Therefore, the way to balance the scales is for media members who have a broad audience to considerably expand what kind of restaurant is considered “review worthy”, and to write knowledgeably, adventurously and engagingly about them. This is not a small thing to ask. Who will take the time to understand and explain the characteristics of Jiangsu cuisine, and where to go to experience it? Who has the depth to say that this Sinaloan mariscos place stands above the others? Gold certainly wasn't born with an innate understanding of homestyle Korean food, but he can write about Soban with enough authority and enthusiasm that some people will go check it out, and some fraction of them will have a great experience and tell their friends, and so on. Whoever the Bay Area's Jonathan Gold is, she or he will need a lot of time to build trust and an audience. Maybe it's a group effort. Luke is clearly doing his part and I thank him for his efforts. I believe he's easily the best critic we have right now, and maybe in time he will be enough if he is given a platform with a wider geographic range. There's definitely a market for this type of criticism -- we just need the right guidance.

N.B. The South Bay is filled with places that are known mainly only to the immigrant populations that they serve. Would someone please start writing intelligently about them?

Posted by Peter Chang on 08/26/2016 at 5:06 PM

Re: “Cooking Other People's Food: How Chefs Appropriate Bay Area 'Ethnic' Cuisine

I guess Apple shouldn't make smartphones either because they are culturally an Illinois, Espoo and Seoul thing

Posted by Dave Campbell 1 on 08/25/2016 at 8:33 PM

Re: “Cooking Other People's Food: How Chefs Appropriate Bay Area 'Ethnic' Cuisine

Here's my opinion of all of this. Frankly it shouldn't matter what the chef looks like as long as the food is good. This is America and we tend to forget the goal of this country is to be a melting pot. Sure we have moments where we fail at it but for the most part we do a good job and the fact of the matter is we try. Unlike most other countries in this world where diversity isn't an issue because they just stick to themselves. Where the beauty of America working properly is in the kitchen. Rather than questioning the ethnic background of our chefs and their cuisines, we should embrace it. If you go to any of these places on a given night (which I do) the audience they serve too is diverse as well as their staffs. When you are dining at these places it's during that time everyone can agree regardless of where they are from can agree that food is delicious and should be appreciated in all its forms. Much like we should appreciate each other as Americans. Honestly if our politics and beliefs were run like the kitchens across the country then the world would be a better place. If we were all supposed to cook and eat what our ethnic backgrounds are "meant" to do then we are in essence forgetting the heart of what this country is built on which is being the melting pot, in the kitchen and out of it.

Posted by Joco Fernan on 08/25/2016 at 1:43 PM

Re: “Cooking Other People's Food: How Chefs Appropriate Bay Area 'Ethnic' Cuisine

My issue with this article is that there are several great black chefs in Oakland that own restaurant's, popups, trucks or are caterers and no one EVER asks us what we think about all of these restaurants that also have a play on soul food too. Where do the African American Chefs come into play or EVEN get recognized!

Posted by Aaronette Leboothang King on 08/25/2016 at 11:51 AM

Re: “Cooking Other People's Food: How Chefs Appropriate Bay Area 'Ethnic' Cuisine

I appreciate comments by Alexis and Fremont here. The issue of usurping other people's cultural heritage and profiting - both egotistically and materially - by assimilating elements for the appreciation of higher class people makes me sad, even as a middle class white man from the Fruitvale. Yet, while I highly value origin and history, I also am burdened with a tongue schooled in locally-grown, grass-fed, sustainable, bla bla, the value of which I cherish supporting in my defiance of industrial corporate food production. The race issue in Tsai's article is symptomatic of our shared American problem rooted in wealth differences, wealth is glamorized, envied, disdained, yet tacitly accepted. While I feel conflicted about Ramen Shop/Tacubayu/Comal/etc, I also can appreciate the audience that has enabled this creative and disciplined expression of food. While I lament the influx of bearded gentry into our Bay oasis, I cherish the educated/artistic/activist culture that existed before and laid the groundwork for appreciation of values in food.

Posted by Bankito on 08/25/2016 at 9:27 AM

Re: “Cooking Other People's Food: How Chefs Appropriate Bay Area 'Ethnic' Cuisine

"Moore, on the other hand, said he only hopes that The Kebabery might act as a kind of gateway for the type of customer who will drive out of their way to dine at a Russell Moore restaurant, but might never set foot in any of the Bay Area's many excellent traditional kebab restaurants."

This is exactly the problem isn't it? That is exactly what's going to happen because he is making a "low/dirty" cuisine "safe" for white palettes. And the presence of his restaurant in this neighborhood is making a "low/dirty" neighborhood safe for people who would have never set foot there. He clearly has no interest in catering to the traditionally working class, primarily colored residents in this neighborhood. Rather, he is another person looking to capitalize on the comparatively lower rents in North/West Oakland because he knows that his upper class white clientele will follow. And when they do, they will have the same "epiphany" that West Oakland is actually not as bad as they thought it was and that it's "actually pretty cool and gritty". More hip restaurants by popular chefs and coffee shops will come (as if there aren't enough) and people with money will follow along with higher rents, continuing the rampent spread of gentrification in West Oakland.

In Moores case, The Kebabery itself isn't the problem. It's the location, and the lie that he is telling himself and the community that his intention is to contribute to the the existing neighborhood. Unless we're talking truly accessible price points and a truly welcoming and unpretentious vibe, I will continue to see this as exploitative.

Posted by Christina Young on 08/25/2016 at 9:19 AM

Re: “Cooking Other People's Food: How Chefs Appropriate Bay Area 'Ethnic' Cuisine

HELLO WOW another new restaurant, so many coming in to West Oakland,and no local people will get jobs, or afford to eat. Over the years I've tried to get to know people and try for a job--no luck. a few weeks ago, that guy from NY was right--'what's next ? more outsiders, so locals lose out

al brown-chef-creole

Posted by Alan Brown on 08/25/2016 at 9:11 AM

Re: “Cooking Other People's Food: How Chefs Appropriate Bay Area 'Ethnic' Cuisine

What a great article that says it all. All you left out was the example of how Paula Dean appropriated recipes, and labor and a false identity to create her empire.

I've been saying it for years.....The U. S. has been held hostage, to the collective juvenile ego of American white people while they've been learning how to cook. Yes that's what we've been witness to....white people learning to cook. (Remember before this 'movement', white households ate, canned foods and frozen dinners.)

Yes, white people learning about food from growing it to preparing it; white people learning about spices and how they flavor and enhance meats and vegetables, white people discovering the foods of other cultures...oh I could go on, but the thing that gets me, is how the white mind, in it's inherent arrogance, now wishes to proclaim it's supremacy in the realm of food growing and cooking ~ When in fact, they are the last participant to the party. They are just now learning things, that Black, Latino, and Asian, and native indigenous people have KNOWN FOREVER...

Yet as always...they appropriate, and then create systems of hierarchy, awarding prizes, titles and fame upon themselves for things the learned from others ( IE: All the food and cooking networks and popular TV type cook-off programs TV).

The last element in their game is the commercializing of food and cooking. Exploiting it for profit. Food ...people !!! Earth's ultimate givingness. Nutrition, fuel, emotional fulfillment for the bodies of Earth's animals - 4 and 2 legged. Talking heads in the industry give us ridiculous creative labeling on menus and at Farmer's Markets about the source of a bean. And foodies spout off these descriptions and name-drop them like a designer label groupie.

These new to the kitchen, white chefs/cooks - professional and at home ~ never realize the fools that they look like to all the rest of humanity. Like the awkward child/man on the old Mad TV show, that demanded attention, as he spastically jumped up and down, crying out, "Look what I can do!!"

We, who bear the knowledge in our genes, souls and family legacies just shake our heads, and roll our eyes while we add a pinch and retreat to the memory of the way Grandma prepared it, ....as we just 'stir on'....

Posted by Liz Lee on 08/25/2016 at 12:39 AM

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