I came to Berkeley many years ago from the East Coast. Through some completely inexplicable, miraculous twist of fate, I found myself working in the kitchen at Chez Panisse. I never actually decided to be a cook, or dreamed of having a restaurant. I got into cooking by accident; it found me, this crazy, amazing, passionate job, years before I found it. And, what I realized is that I loved being in the kitchen more than the dining room——nothing makes me happier than being part of the production of an experience.
When the possibility of being truly responsible for the creation of a space, my own space, became a reality I was filled with a huge desire to make it real. I started to imagine it, the way it would feel, the quality of the light, the way music would fill it, and as is the case with me, the dream of the space started to take on a life of its own. I wanted to take all that I had learned at Chez Panisse, the commitment to all local, organic meat and produce, to supporting farmers, to setting a beautiful table, to serving the people I love, and the community around me——and to make it more accessible.
And this vision and commitment carries over in into each of my restaurants. I want my friends and family to feel at home. I want strangers to feel like they are guests in my house. I want to create a space that is able to put people at ease, to help them feel that they can let their guards down. I want to help people feel connected to the land around them, and to each other. I want to help honor the ritual of food and the way it creates connection between us and to the world around us. I see how developing a relationship with food——cooking food, eating food, and serving food——has opened my life to a larger, deeper world. Mostly, I have learned how to serve with an open heart, with love and care. I am proud to call Oakland home and live with my son, daughter, and dopey Bernese Mountain dog.