Bites: Slow Food indigenous dinner with Crystal Wahpepah; what’s to come at Castro Valley Marketplace

Oakland-native, chef Crystal Wahpepah specializes in Kickapoo and Native American cuisine. Photo courtesy of Crystal Wahpepah

KICKAPOO CUISINE In April, Slow Food East Bay started the Cultural Food Traditions project, a dinner series that invites local chefs from various backgrounds to showcase the traditions of their culture through food. The next dinner in the series will feature chef Crystal Wahpepah, who specializes in indigenous American cuisine. Although of Kickapoo heritage (a Native American culture with tribes in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas), Wahpepah grew up in Oakland amongst others in a larger urban Native American community, from whom she learned a variety of cooking styles. After graduating from Oakland’s Bread Project program and La Cocina, she founded her own catering company in 2012 called Wahpepah’s Kitchen, which offers dishes like buffalo blueberry stew, Kickapoo chili and a roasted pumpkin salad. In 2016, Wahpepah became the first indigenous chef to appear on the Food Network’s series “Chopped.”

Bison meatballs with berry sauce from Wahpepah’s Kitchen. Photo: Wahpepah’s Kitchen

For the Slow Food dinner, Wahpepah will prepare a meal served on the rooftop of Cal’s Garden Village apartments. In addition, the evening will feature a discussion about the history of indigenous cuisine and ways in which food has been used to suppress and harm native communities. Cultural Food Traditions dinners always pair a chef with a nonprofit, and for this particular event, that group will be Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, a women-led, East Bay-based indigenous community organization working to reclaim access for native communities on traditional Ohlone lands. The dinner takes place from 5-8 p.m., June 30. Tickets are $45-$85 sliding scale ($30 for children under 12), which includes dinner, drinks and discussion. Garden Village, 2201 Dwight Way, Berkeley 

An illustrated rendering of the upcoming Castro Valley Marketplace.
An illustrated rendering of the upcoming Castro Valley Marketplace. Photo: Castro Valley Marketplace

CASTRO VALLEY MARKETPLACE UPDATE In January, Nosh mentioned a huge gourmet marketplace opening soon in Castro Valley and today, we have a few more details to share. Taking over the former Daughtrey’s department store, The Castro Valley Marketplace will be a new type of multi-level artisanal food destination in the East Bay. Nosh spoke with Craig Semmelmeyer, one of the marketplace partners and founder of Main Street Property Services, the real estate company behind the project, to hear more about what’s to come.

According to Semmelmeyer, the Castro Valley Marketplace will be “more than your common food hall.” Rather than just a grouping of restaurant stalls sharing a common dining space, it aims to be more of a “town square,” and will include added components for more interaction between customers, marketplace vendors and other local food makers, that speaks to a growing interest in sourcing, education and experiential activities. So along with getting ready-made eats from restaurants like Akemi Japanese Cuisine or at Cannery Kitchen & Tap, customers can buy ingredients to take home from vendors like Baron’s Quality Meats and Seafood, Oaktown Spice Shop and the marketplace’s anchor tenant, Castro Valley Natural Grocery.


“This is a place where you can buy the ingredients, not just buy the completed product for take-out… You could be in a class on cheesemaking with Farm Curious, be taking a pickling class with Oaktown Spice,” Semmelmeyer said.

Castro Valley Marketplace will also house a cooking school, commercial kitchen and event space, and a collaborative workspace for new retail and food businesses. These amenities can be rented by marketplace vendors to host events, demonstrations and collaborations. “The various partnerships, our merchants, are the drivers for us. We want them to be promoting their business,” Semmelmeyer explained. “It’s pretty exciting to say, ‘Here’s Baron’s Meats’ and have them next door to Oaktown Spice Shop and have them do joint classes on making bone broth.”

Many of the vendors that have signed up for Castro Valley Marketplace have other locations in other parts of the Bay Area, but Semmelmeyer said many also have a connection to Castro Valley. The owners of San Leandro’s Cordial Bottle Shop, Stacey and Simon Tingstrom, for example, were born and raised in Castro Valley. They’ll be behind the marketplace’s basement-level wine shop and wine bar.

Edward Yoo and Sandy Liu, owners of Oakland’s Blind Tiger and Gogi Time, are bringing Night Owl, a cocktail bar, to Castro Valley Marketplace that will connected to a commercial kitchen space. There, they’ll host cocktail classes and pop-up events with a rotating series of chefs.

For now, the list of confirmed tenants includes Castro Valley Natural Grocery, Cannery Kitchen & Tap, Baron’s Quality Meats and Seafood, Oaktown Spice Shop, Akemi Japanese Cuisine, AKA Coffee, Seven Hills Baking Company, Night Owl, Pop Out Kitchen (cooking school and commercial kitchen), Lab 200 (collaboration and event space), and Good Common Sense Naturals (a handmade, organic skincare company). The marketplace aims to open in late October. The Castro Valley Marketplace, 3295 Castro Valley Blvd., Castro Valley

Crispy masa cakes topped with savory barbacoa are new on the menu at Doña Tomás. Photo: Doña Tomás

LAST SUMMER AT DOÑA TOMÁS If you didn’t already hear, Temescal Mexican restaurant Doña Tomás is closing this summer. Before you freak out, the good news is owner Dona Savitsky is opening Doña, a new fast-casual version of the restaurant on Piedmont Avenue, inside the former Chow restaurant-market complex. Doña will open this fall. In the meantime, Doña Tomás is celebrating its final days with four new summery menu items: sopes de barbacoa (crispy masa cakes topped with beef braised in Mexican Coke with chiles and tomatoes); nabos (roasted turnips and greens with chimichurri), an arugula and radish salad, and pepinos y jicama (cucumbers and jicama in an arbol lime vinaigrette). Doña Tomás, 5004 Telegraph Ave. (between 49th and 51st), Oakland

HOT DIGGITY DOG This Saturday, from noon to 3 p.m., Albany charcutières Susannah Schnick and Leslie Nishiyama of Picnic will be at Morningtide for an artisanal hot dog pop-up. Until the duo open Picnic’s brick-and-mortar shop, they’re regularly at the downtown Berkeley and Kensington farmers markets slinging sausages, salami, pâté, ham and their award-winning chicken liver mousse. But on Saturday — because it’s summer — Picnic’s pop-up is all about the classic hot dog. The wieners will be prepared on site and served with housemade pickles (dill pickles, jalapeños, red onion and shredded daikon & carrots) and condiments (ketchup, mustard, and housemade curry ketchup). A basic dog with ketchup and mustard will set you back $6; $8 with all the pickle fixin’s. Potato chips (classic) and chocolate chip lard cookies (yum!) will be offered for an extra $1 each. As for the upcoming Picnic store, Nishiyama told Nosh that they’ve “hit some bumps on the road,” but they aim to open in late summer or early fall.  Morningtide, 847 Cornell Ave. (at Solano), Albany


The Make It Gay Sundae is a Pride special at Humphry Slocombe. Photo: Humphry Slocombe

TASTE THE RAINBOW When Nosh was invited to talk to Humphry Slocombe founders Jake Godby and Sean Vahey at their new Berkeley location in the Elmwood, we noticed a very large single high-heel shoe sitting in the back, displayed in the kitchen almost like a sculpture. We asked the founders what it was doing there, and they said very casually, as if fabulous footwear was a common occurrence at their ice cream shops, oh, no big deal, it was left by a drag queen friend of theirs. We thought of that moment when we heard the news that Humphry Slocombe created some new ice cream flavors that will be available at all their scoop shops this month for Pride.

One of the new frozen delights is named after San Francisco drag icon, Juanita MORE!, featuring blackberry ice cream with ginger and whiskey ($1 from sales of this flavor will be donated to the GLBT Historical Society). Then, there’s Queer Eye Cookies & Graham, made in collaboration with the “Queer Eye” television series, featuring olive oil ice cream with chocolate cookies and graham crackers; Who’s Your Daddy, made with beer; Strawberry Blondie, strawberry ice cream with white chocolate chip blondies; and Harvey Milk and Honey Graham, raw blackberry honey ice cream with house-made graham crackers. There are also two specialty sundaes: Queer Eye Smores Sundae (Cookies and Graham with hot fudge and torched fluff) and Make It Gay Sundae (any two scoops of ice cream with pink fluff and Fruit Loops). Humphry Slocombe, 2948 College Ave. (near Ashby), Berkeley; also 2335 Broadway (near 23rd), Oakland

Bestselling pastries from Cinnaholic
Vegan bakery Cinnaholic will open its second Bay Area location on June 21. Photo: Cinnaholic

CINNAHOLIC OPENING IN CONCORD Vegan bakery Cinnaholic, whose first location serving cinnamon rolls opened in Berkeley in 2010, is coming to Concord, opening this Friday, June 21. It’s only the second location in the Bay Area for the company that prides itself on its “plant-based alternative to traditional cinnamon rolls [that] cater to those with or without dietary restrictions while maintaining sweet, savory flavor” — though it has more than 30 locations across North America. $1 gourmet rolls will be on offer on opening day. Cinnaholic, 2008 Salvio St. at Todos Santos Plaza, Concord

FLINT’S BBQ IS BACK Although before you get too excited, we’re not talking full-fledged reopening. The East Bay Express reports that the much-loved, but long since closed Oakland BBQ restaurant, which arrived on the scene in 1968, will be popping up over the summer under the supervision of Crystal Martin, the granddaughter of one of the original owners. Tickets ($33), which must be bought in advance, include a dinner plate with ribs, chicken, mac and cheese, baked beans, string beans, potato salad, bread and a drink. Diners can also select from mild, medium, and “hella” hot sauce. The first pop-up is at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 1023 Peralta St., Oakland, on Sunday, Aug. 4, from noon to 5 p.m.