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Oakland's Guest Chef Restaurant Kicks Off With Firefighters Behind the Burners

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[Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux]

Those seeking confirmation that pop-ups are the new bacon should check out Guest Chef, a new restaurant opening November 4 in Oakland's Rockridge District, just blocks from the likes of Oliveto and Bittersweet Cafe. Real estate developers Scott Cameron and Jerry Boddum have taken the pop-up phenomenon as motivation for their newest space, which will offer rotating chefs and culinarians the chance to run their own intimate pop-up restaurant for up to two weeks at a time. "What I am most excited about," says Cameron, "is that we can use this venue to identify capable restaurateurs and then offer them the support they need to move on to a permanent location." Cameron and Boddum, who recently renovated and built out Barlata, enlisted the help of former Bucci's chef Mark Valentine to design the kitchen and program for Guest Chef. Prospective cooks, who may apply to use the space on the restaurant's website need only bring their ingredients, once accepted. Everything else—including a cashier, dishwasher, 18-20 guest seats, beverages, and a license to sell beer and wine—is provided.

Interestingly, the Guest Chef program isn't kicking off with chefs, but with firemen from the Oakland Fire Department. They'll cook for charity from November 4-6. Cameron says they came to check the place out in their "really, really big truck" and were so into the Guest Chef idea, that they offered to volunteer services as bussers, servers or whatever was needed. The OFD chefs will be followed by Eva Santillanes, a grandmother originally from Zacatecas, Mexico who plans to serve family recipes for chili relleno, enchiladas, tamales, and such. She's on the schedule from November 8 to the 20th. Find out who else is on the roster by checking in here.