Too many cooks? Not at this table
When eight East Bay culinary divas stir the pot and spill the beans, what you get is a sizzling stir fry of raucous musings, candidness, collaboration, ebullience and deliciousness.
“I’m Dona Savitsky, and my restaurants are Doña Tomás, Tacubaya and Flora.”
“I’m Wendy Brucker, and I own Rivoli Restaurant and Trattoria Corso with my ex-husband and business partner [Roscoe Skipper] …”
“I’m Rebekah Wood, and I own Wood Tavern with my husband, Rich Wood.”
“I’m Marsha McBride, and I’m the chef-owner of only one restaurant, Café Rouge. We’ve been open nearly 13 years.”
“I’m Barbara Mulas, and I’m the chef and owner of Sidebar with my husband and partner Mark Drazek [also a chef].”
“I’m Maggie Pond, one of the partners and the chef at César.”
“I’m Cindy Lalime Krikorian. I’m not a chef but my husband [Haig Krikorian] is. We opened our first restaurant, Lalime’s, 25 year ago. Then we opened Jimmy Bean’s, a really simple cafe. The next one was Fonda, which wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did. [‘They’re like babies, right? You say no more, then there’s another one,’ Savitsky interjects amidst laughter and nodding heads.] Then we opened Sea Salt and T-Rex, both in the same year.”
“I’m Tanya Holland and this is my restaurant, Brown Sugar Kitchen. It’s the first restaurant I’ve owned.”
Women in the kitchen are in the spotlight, thanks to Nora Ephron’s movie, Julie and Julia. For a feminine perspective, we invited eight super-successful women entrepreneurs, restaurateurs and chefs for their take on running their East Bay restaurants.
They met around three tables pulled into a rough circle at Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland. There were traffic and train noises — and lots of laughter. One might have expected there would be competition among these women who own and operate top restaurants in relatively close proximity. On the contrary, many of them have worked together. They’ve shared chefs and waitstaff, and they’ve eaten at each other’s restaurants. In some cases they were each other’s biggest fans.
During the roundtable discussion, the women talked together, talked over each other and talked totally off-topic — more like being at a good dinner party where wine and conversation flow freely. But there was no wine, just coffee beforehand and slices of carrot cake with walnut at the end.