Tag Archives: Amy Murray

Field trip highlights programs in food-forward Berkeley

Foraging at the farmers' market.
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Tomorrow, Bay Area Green Tours co-hosts a food field trip spotlighting some of the best of Berkeley’s alternative food systems. It’s part of the 15th Annual Community Food Security Coalition Conference, which runs today through Tuesday in Oakland. The Community Food Security Coalition is a national nonprofit dedicated to creating a food movement that is healthy, sustainable, and just.

The national conference draws sustainable food advocates, anti-hunger experts, and food policy wonks from around the country. The Food Sovereignty tour, which is open to the public (though now sold out), introduces participants to community food gardens, farmers’ markets, school food, and alternative food businesses in this town, which, of course, is well known for its food-forward agenda. … Continue reading »

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Josh Thomsen gathers talent for Claremont wine fest

Josh Thomsen
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Josh Thomsen knew from a young age that he wanted to be a chef and credits his late father, Jerry, for sparking his culinary interest. His dad would put in a long day as a stockbroker, come home, go to the market, and then cook up a storm — making a mess, using every pot in the house, and turning out a delicious dinner.

The Culinary Institute of America grad has done his dad proud. Thomsen’s resumé includes stints at the French Laundry in Yountville, Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles, and The Lodge at Pebble Beach. He’s also worked in kitchens in big-buck Las Vegas venues like Tao Restaurant at the Venetian Resort, the Mansion at the MGM Grand Hotel, and the Michael Mina-owned Nobhill Tavern.

These days Thomsen, 40, is the executive chef at local landmark The Claremont Hotel, Club, and Spa, known for its regal white facade and killer views. Until recently, though, the hotel wasn’t exactly known as a destination dining experience. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Bites: Amy Murray, Venus and now Revival

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Amy Murray moved to Berkeley and opened Venus Restaurant on Shattuck Avenue in 2000. The restaurant began serving up seasonable, organic, sustainable California cuisine with worldly accents — which was something of a novelty back then.

A nice nod early on by Kim Severson, then a restaurant critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, now at the New York Times, gave the funky little brick cafe just the kind of exposure it needed to draw in diners.

Last month, Murray … Continue reading »

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Food and farming: Double header this Thursday

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Berkeleysiders interested in food and farming may find themselves torn between two edible events being held downtown — or bouncing between both this Thursday.

The Earth Island Institute and VegNews Magazine host a hot-topic debate: “Can You Be a ‘Good Environmentalist’ and Still Eat Meat?” In one corner, Nicolette Hahn Niman, a Marin rancher and author of Righteous Porkchop, who believes there is an ecologically sustainable way to eat animals. Niman’s … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Bites: Kyle Cornforth

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Each Friday in this space food writer Sarah Henry asks a well-known, up-and-coming, or under-the-radar food aficionado about their favorite tastes in town, preferred food purveyors and other local culinary gems worth sharing.

Kyle Cornforth packed up her family last summer and headed to the outskirts of Chiang Mai to spend a year as the director of The Prem Organic Cooking Academy and Farm, which teaches traditional Thai cooking and farming techniques to kids from international schools around the globe, as well as adult travelers.

She wanted to share what she learned about local, sustainable, organic cooking working as the program coordinator for the Edible Schoolyard at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School. (Kyle, 30, will return to that position this summer. She met her husband Jay Cohen, a teacher at the school, in the Edible garden. Cue a chorus of awws now.)

She has spent the past year documenting her cross-cultural experiences in often amusing entries that can be found on her blog Cornhens in Thailand. The family, including daughter Zorah, will return to their South Berkeley home in a few months. (Full disclosure: I met Kyle at Edible while lending a hand as a kitchen volunteer.)

1. Can you name some favorite family-friendly eateries in town?

For breakfast we regularly go to The Homemade Cafe. We have been taking Zorah there on the weekends since she was an infant. It isn’t so much that the space is set up for kids, but the staff there has always made us feel welcome and been especially warm to Zorah.

Right around the corner there is a wonderful place for dinner, Digs Bistro, that has a parents night out the first Monday of every month. They have supervised activities for kids two and over — art, dinner, ice cream and a movie — and you can sit in the next room and have a delicious meal in a romantic environment.

2. Do you have a local food hero?

Amy Murray of Venus Restaurant is doing good work with quiet passion. I worked for Amy at Venus for five years. A lot of what I know about food and cooking I learned from her. She has been deeply committed to local food for a long time. I also run into her at the farmers’ market all the time, and I think it is important to see chefs out selecting the produce and ingredients themselves.

I often crave her food; anyone who comes up with the veggie nest is a hero in my book! It’s on the breakfast/brunch menu: Two poached eggs atop a salad of arugula, frisee, wild mushrooms, goat cheese, tomato, and bacon. It’s served with tapenade toast but I always substitute the biscuit. It’s the perfect way to start a weekend day. … Continue reading »

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