Eat the Week: Starbucks Might Nab Peets, Rising Chef Stars, Fillmore’s Restaurant Ban Lifted, Local School Lunches Examined
1. The Bay Citizen’s comparison of school lunch programs this week brought up some interesting questions about class, taste, and subsidization. In Orinda, grilled chicken kabobs and Izze sodas are the order of the day. In West Oakland, reheated cheeseburgers. Both places struggle to put out good fresh food, face challenges unique to their region and funding, and lack the robust support that Berkeley’s school lunch program is blessed with.
2. Berkeley’s Birdland, the private Filipino BBQ/ live jazz street party, has re-opened, this time as a private club. The event had to shut down late last year due to permitting issues, but they’ve been rectified, and now the jazz is squirreling and spiraling away, across the street from the Ashby BART. The s’more grilling, once on the sidewalk, has moved to the backyard, which also contains a hookah/shisha lounge. Memberships costs range from $0 to $1000.
3. The young, talented chefs of the local scene were highlighted this week in Chronicle critic Michael Bauer’s yearly Rising Star awards. The testosterone-heavy roster includes Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Food, Curtis di Fede and Tyler Rodde of Napa’s Oenotri, Aaron London of Ubuntu, Thomas McNaughton of Flour + Water, and Charlie Parker of Plum. In the piece you can read amusing tales of London’s naughty youth and pick up some fancy recipes along the way.
4. One rising star, Thomas McNaughton, will be taking a brief break starting March 24th, as his restaurant, Flour + Water closes for repainting and finishing. They’ll be back in full force on April 4th, with more pastas carbo-loading up the menu — instead of the previous five offerings per night, they’ll be bumping it up to eight.
5. Ex-Ubuntu chef Jeremy Fox has announced the first in a series of Seed to Stalk pop-up events, as he works out new recipes for his upcoming vegetable cookbook, Grub Street reports. For this initial event he enlisted the cooking chops of Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn. They’ll be alternating veggie-centric courses on March 28th at Crenn’s restaurant, with produce coming straight from their respective farms.
6. Expect new restaurants to be popping up on Fillmore in the coming months. The Examiner reported that the Fillmore’s antiquated ban on opening restaurants in retail spaces was lifted on Tuesday. The Board of Supervisors voted 8-0 in favor.
7. Word on the street is that Starbucks is in talks to acquire Emeryville-based Peets Coffee. Local Peetniks (fans of Peets) are already expressing concern that the Major Dickason blend will lose its superior rocket fuel quality. According to the Mercury News, shares for Peets have risen in speculation, despite the market tanking since the major earthquake in Japan.
8. Ever generous, local restaurateurs are doing their part in Japan’s earthquake relief efforts. Several restaurants are donating a part of their profits to charity, collecting money, or doing bake sales. Tablehopper published a thorough list of places where one can eat for a cause in last week’s column.
9. Rainbow Grocery’s has decided to do away with their SF Bike Coalition discount. They dispensed with their yellow page coupons last year; this leaves their senior citizen discount in place. Get ready to don your gray wig before hitting the bulk department.
10. The French Culinary Institute’s new school in Campbell just gained its accreditation and is now open for enrollment. The inaugural class will be named after TV personality and French chef Jacques Pepin. Pepin, as well as chocolatier Jacques Torres will be offering their tutelage at the famed school. The curriculum mimics its New York sister school, but later, the program will have a stronger California influence.