Specialty Food Magazine

Winter 2019

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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and Monica Rocchino, a chef and former event planner, respec- tively, source their meat—grass-fed beef and lamb, organic chickens, etc.—as well as complementary goods like seasonings, rubs, olive oil, vinegar, pasta, and so on, from within a 150-mile radius of the store. The shop has the feel of an old-fashioned butcher, with white tiled walls, low cases to better interact with the customers, butcher block counters, and a team of skilled butchers in white shirts and ties under their pinstriped aprons. Contrary to Berkeley's image as a bastion of vegetarianism, many of the local consumers like meat but prefer it to be humanely and sustainably raised and are willing to pay a bit more for it. The Rocchinos regularly visit their suppli- ers (a great advantage of the 150-mile rule), helping to ensure their guidelines are strictly adhered to, including pasture management to avoid the destructive nature of large-scale meat production. ("Our ranchers say they are really 'soil farmers," says Monica Rocchino.) And because the butchers are cooks themselves (some are former restaurant chefs), they are always able to give advice about cooking any of the products they sell. Chocolate has been a component of the Gourmet Ghetto since cookbook author Alice Medrich ran Cocolat in the 1980s. Today there is Alegio Chocolaté, one of the concessions in the Epicurious Garden, an upscale food court located in a converted television repair center. Owners Robbin Everson and Panos Panagos run the shop along with their partner Claudio Corallo, who grows and processes the chocolate in the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe off the coast of West Africa. At one time the largest pro- ducer of cocoa in the world, these islands grow cacao that has been untouched by modern genetics and chemicals, resulting in some of the purist chocolate made, with no need for vanilla and soy lecithin, additives that are often used to cover faults in modern chocolate. The charming little shop features many photos of the cacao fields and continuously running videos explaining the intricacies of grow- ing and making chocolate. Upstairs above the Epicurious Garden is an unusual cooking school called Kitchen on Fire. Owned by Olivier Said and Lisa Miller, it is best described as a professional cooking school for home cooks. The state-of-the-art kitchen offers a 12-week Basics course, as well as individual classes on a variety of subjects includ- ing Moroccan food, Thai, French desserts, ramen, tapas, butchery, nutrition, couples' classes, teen camps, and more. They also regu- larly host corporate team-building classes where MBAs roll up their sleeves and cook together. Next door to Chez Panisse is César. Founded by three Chez Panisse alumni, it was one of the first and still arguably the best and most authentic Spanish tapas bars to open on the West Coast. César recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and is still packed with regulars most nights who partake of the expertly made cocktails, eclectic, but mostly Spanish wine list, paella, and a menu of tapas comparable to any found in Spain. Berkeley is a fast and easy train ride from San Francisco, and the Gourmet Ghetto is a short walk up Shattuck Avenue from BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). Visitors to the Winter Fancy Food Show would do well to experience Berkeley's world-class food. No tie-dyed shirts required.—J.M. Mark Hamstra is a regular contributor to Specialty Food Magazine and Specialty Food News. Amanda Baltazar is a freelance writer based in Anacortes, Wash. James Mellgren is an author and food writer who lives in Berkeley, Calif. "I predict that someday Shattuck Avenue between Rose and Virginia will be an official historic 'culinary arts' district," says Harris, "with plaques on walls of buildings identifying former shops." WINTER 2019 83

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