Posts Tagged ‘pizzaiolo’

Haiti Bakesale Benefit Update

January 25, 2010

Kudos to Samin Nosrat and her crew for raising $22,421.09 at a bakesale for Haiti in the Bay Area last Saturday.

An outpouring of cupcakes and cash came from professional chefs and home cooks in events held at three community-minded food venues: Pizzaiolo in Oakland, Gioia Pizzeria in North Berkeley, and Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco’s Mission District.

On offer: Sweet treats from current and former chefs of local eateries, including Chez Panisse, Pizzaiolo, Dopo, Oliveto, Lalime’s, Cafe Fanny, Bar Jules, Bacar, and Boot & Shoe Service. Their cakes and cookies got snapped up by folks eager to find a way to help Haitian relief efforts in the aftermath of the recent devastating earthquake.

My son and I stopped by Pizzaiolo.

We said hello to familiar faces, met Samin, and did a little sugar shopping for a good cause.

We chose these saffron cardamom beauties by anand confections. Divine.

Also Ici chocolate chip meringues, Tartine Bakery shortbread, and Bakesale Betty cookies.

And (we shared, honestly) brownies with mint-chocolate chips of unknown origin, and vanilla bean creme brulee baked by Kafe Kevo. Allegedly all good, not that I tasted everything, just reporting back, you understand.

In a quick phone chat today, Samin, who had just picked up a check for Partners in Health, a nonprofit medical aid organization long active in Haiti, expressed gratitude for folks’ contributions, both big and small. She made mention of chef-owner Charlie Hallowell at Pizzaiolo, who kicked in $5,000, which included donated tips from restaurant staff. Samin’s Anusara yoga teacher, John Friend, contributed another $5,000.

Buddy Jennie Schacht mobilized a bunch of Bay Area pastry chefs through the group The Bakers Dozen, and cookbook author Romney (Nani) Steele added her trademark granola to the mix.

At the amateur end, the girls JV Soccer Team at Sacred Heart Preparatory School in San Francisco made dozens of cookies, rice crispies, brownies, and cupcakes “all beautifully wrapped,” Samin says, “with lovely little notes that read: ‘made with love.'”

Samin is not new to cooking or fundraising bakesales. She’s held similar events outside Eccolo, a favorite Berkeley restaurant (now closed) where she worked, and netted about $2,000 to help victims of both Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Asia. “I thought they were pretty good takings for a morning’s work,” she says,  “but I’ve been overwhelmed with the display of generosity for the people of Haiti.”

And for Samin, linking fundraising to food is key. “It’s my experience that people really want to help but a lot of people are stuck. They literally don’t know what to do or how to take action,” Samin explains.

“What better way to bring people together than food?  It’s such a natural community builder.”

Do you know of other similar edible fundraisers to help Haiti? Please share your stories below.

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Sam Siegel, 10, Seasoned Chef

December 22, 2009

How many 5th graders do you know who wonder what to do with orange marmalade languishing in the refrigerator, decide to mix it with some brown sugar, soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic and use it as a sauce to accompany braised cod for the family dinner? Exactly.

I bumped into Sam Siegel, a former student of mine, at the farmers’ market on Sunday. When Sam was in second grade at Malcolm X School in Berkeley, he signed up for all my after school cooking classes. Sam was keen as mustard to try every tool, technique, and recipe that came his way. It was obvious, even then, that he was passionate about food.

I lost touch with Sam, now 10, when he switched schools a year ago (he’s in the same grade as my son). But at a stall selling his holiday cookies I learned what’s been cooking lately on the edible and entrepreneurial front for this earnest young chef.

Sam is active in the Sprouts Cooking Club, which takes children into real restaurant kitchens and bakeries in Berkeley and Oakland, such as Chez Panisse, Bread Workshop, and Pizzaiolo, to learn from real chefs. He’s attended summer cooking camps hosted by Spun Sugar and this week created edible gifts at Paulding & Company cooking school in Emeryville, the kitchen location for the first season of Top Chef.  (An aside: Owner Terry Paulding taught animators at Pixar how to cook so they could authentically replicate the process in the film Ratatouille.)

Sam’s off to the south of France on a culinary tour with the folks from Sprouts, including chef Jed Cote, over spring break next year.  He’s looking forward to learning to cook dishes he hasn’t even heard of yet. By baking cookies for his synagogue, bar mitzvahs, and other events, he’s raised enough to cover the cost of the $2,000 trip. Now he’s saving to go to China with his school choir this summer; his other love is singing.  Sam hopes to earn $4,000 to pay for that trip. That’s a lot of cookies. Did I mention that Sam, who now attends the Pacific Boychoir Academy, is just 10?

In September, Sam was part of a three-member team who won a Sprouts Cooking Club Cook Off modeled after Iron Chef (think time crunch and secret ingredient) sponsored by Whole Foods in Berkeley and judged by local chefs. The winning dish: Eggplant parmigiana with goat cheese. You can watch an amusing account of the competition here.

Sam’s favorite kitchen tools: A garlic chopper and onion goggles, picked up from Sur La Table (though the editors at Eat Me Daily sniff at such eyewear, in the kitchen kids will try anything to avoid tearing up while chopping). He loves ethnic cuisine, particularly Indian and Italian. He finds recipes a bit boring, preferring to experiment with ingredients, temperatures, and techniques. And, like all good cooks, he’s had his share of flops: Hot and sour soup so spicy it burned his tongue. A few inedible misadventures with a slow cooker. He shrugs off such failures as part and parcel of perfecting his craft.

Here’s what Sam enjoys most about cooking: “I really like it when other people enjoy what I make. That’s very satisfying, especially if it’s a dish that takes a long time to prepare, like vegetable moussaka.”

In ten years or so if you run across a cafe called Essen (it means “to eat” in German and a certain kid thinks it’s a cool name for a restaurant) serving salmon teriyaki and lemon souffle you might inquire about the name of the chef. Don’t be surprised if it’s Sam Siegel.

Sam takes email orders for his ginger, chocolate crackle, and oatmeal raisin cookies at bakingmonster@pacbell.net.