Archive for December, 2010

TJI: Fred Hempel’s Winter Squashes

Hempel squash

Fred Hempel's Galeux d’Eysines and Terramoto squashes

With his arrival at Oliveto, Chef Jonah introduced us to Fred Hempel from Baia Nicchia Farm (“Bay Niche”) in Sunol.   Fred is a farmer/plant biologist who is interested in finding wonderful vegetables that are new to this area, as well as breeding his own varieties.

We’ve been blown away by the great winter squash varieties he’s provided us with– yielding stunning soups, sautées and purées.

Continue reading ‘TJI: Fred Hempel’s Winter Squashes’

Welcome Chef Jonah


Sunday before last, December 5, Jonah Rhodehamel became Oliveto’s chef.  A change of chef would be a big deal for any restaurant, but perhaps for us it’s a bit bigger. In a restaurant where vitality and curiosity are so highly valued, and with so many ideas and so much talent emerging from Oliveto over the years, how we go forward is crucial. Since we announced our parting with Paul Canales, our friend for fifteen years and chef for five, we have been asked for the inside story by many. It does probably come down to Paul’s becoming interested in other genres of cooking and other interests, and our remaining commitment to dishes that embrace the fundamental character of Italian cooking.

So, Maggie and I took several months to look for an exceptional cook – a vital, talented, and dedicated chef who could continue our tradition of learning and teaching, producing delicious food, collaborating, and, in a particular way, motivated by flavor, innovating. There were many talented chefs available, and we decided on Chef Jonah Rhodehamel. Here’s why: He is truly passionate about the food we love, he’s smart and a very good cook, and he’s a straight shooter.

Continue reading ‘Welcome Chef Jonah’

New Year’s Eve 2010

special thanks for photo from Jay Tyrrell

special thanks for use of photo to Jay Tyrrell

New Year’s Venetian Menu

To start:
Salad of Rossa di Verona radicchio, Fuyu persimmon,
Castelmagno cheese, and aceto balsamico


For Second seating only:
Primo piatto - choice of:
Marinated Nantucket Bay scallops with Kishu mandarins and Florence fennel
Farm egg in carrozza with black truffles and celery root


Pasta – choice of:
Red winter wheat bigoli with Liberty Farms goose ragù
Rugosa squash gnocchi with sage brown butter

Continue reading ‘New Year’s Eve 2010′

Community Grains


If you’ve been following the Oliveto Grain Project, you know that over the last two years we’ve been enmeshed in the pursuit of locally grown corn and wheat. This has evolved from a simple query into a full-blown cause and now finally the creation, in partnership with our farmers and miller, of Community Grains.

At the end of October, we hosted an event to showcase the exceptional properties of this whole grain flour.  You can read about it here and here.  And here are some pictures taken by Teal Dudziak: Continue reading ‘Community Grains’

Thank You!

Finn & Monique - Oliveto Picnic, May 2010

Finn & Monique - Oliveto Picnic, May 2010

Last Saturday afternoon, a number of Olivetians, Oliveto-ites, counter regulars, friends, and family joined forces to support Finn, Oliveto’s bar manager.

Faced with a diagnosis of cancer four months ago, Finn has been an inspiration.  We are constantly in awe of his strength and resolve during these past few months of treatment, as well as his ability to show up for his shifts at the upstairs dining counter with his usual welcoming presence and genuine good cheer.

Orchestrated by Oliveto waiter Molly Surbridge, the event last Saturday provided an opportunity for members of the Oliveto community to get together over tacos and ice cream, and show their love and support.  In just one afternoon, almost $6,000 in donations(!) were raised to help cover Finn’s medical costs.   On behalf of Finn and Oliveto, we want to extend a sincere thank you to every one that came out on Saturday.  You guys are awesome.

Farewell & Rock On


This Saturday, December 4th, we say farewell to Oliveto Executive Chef Paul Canales.

Although good-byes are always a little bit sad, and change is always a little bit scary, on Saturday we we plan to celebrate our 16+ year relationship, express our appreciation, and toast to success & fulfillment in all future endeavors.  It will be a bit like New Year’s Eve but you don’t have to kiss anyone at midnight. Continue reading ‘Farewell & Rock On’