Cover Story

Chef James Syhabout’s Commis

At the start of a weeknight meal service, a young, curly-haired commis, or assistant chef, asked his boss if he was plating an oyster dish correctly. Chef James Syhabout studied the plate for a nanosecond before directing the commis to rearrange the layers. Unlike a reality TV kitchen, the Michelin-starred chef of Commis didn’t shout at or berate his employee. Syhabout answered the question simply, neutrally, without an emotional flourish. The commis nodded, replied with an affirmative acknowledgment and returned to his station for a second attempt.

Offbeat Wedding Venues

For those wanting to stay local, here are some ideas for offbeat wedding venues that might just be the solution for an unforgettable—and unique—ceremony. Be aware that pent-up demand during the pandemic has meant a flood of weddings, so be prepared to book any of these offbeat wedding venues as far in advance as possible.

Gift Guide for Buying Locally

Ring-a ding-ding! Get your shopping chops warmed up, because the holidays are upon us. Buying locally, as we know, supports local businesses, is better for the environment, is more fun—and nets cooler gifts. Maybe the one they will remember forever. The suggestions below are by no means definitive. But you might find the perfect inspiration. Take a look and see…

East Bay Theaters

Theater in the East Bay is back big time this fall, with diverse shows that demonstrate the provocative, exploratory missions of its sustaining companies and series—and also offering some just plain fun. There are world premieres, classics reimagined, international visitors and some very big wigs. Below, in alphabetical order by company, take a look at some of the season’s most enticing offerings at our East Bay theatres.

Alice Waters’ ‘We Are What We Eat’

A revelatory read from a restaurant revolutionary It’s likely that many people will never dine under the hallowed recycled redwood ceiling of Berkeley’s revered Chez Panisse. Opened in 1971 by restaurateur, chef and food activist Alice Waters, the establishment’s upscale reputation and long waiting list for reservations is preventative for all but economically advantaged or determinedly patient diners. Practicing for 50 years “slow food movement” concepts—more on that later—the restaurant is heralded as the birthplace of California cuisine, or at least its kind-hearted, earnest, flea market decorated, food fetishizing, revolutionary MC. Created with fly-by-the-seat-of-your-soil 1960s-style radicalism, the Chez Panisse menu has long emphasized simple presentations, the meal as a multi-senso...

Best of East Bay: Arts & Culture

Best Art Gallery Round Weather   Best Ballet School Shawl Anderson   Best Cover Band Tainted Love   Best Dance Instructor Momo LeBeau   Best Indy Filmmaker Boots Riley Best Local Band BAUS    Best Media Personality: TV, Radio, Print Michael Krasny Best Movie Theater Grand Lake Theater    Best Museum Oakland Museum   Best Music Venue The Fox   Best Outdoor Art Event First Friday   Best Outdoor Music Venue Greek Theater   Best Performing Arts Center Lesher Center   Best Performing Dance Company Oakland Ballet Company   Best Place to Dance Ashkenaz   Best Record ⁄ CD Store Amoeba   Best Virtual Ballet Company San Francisco Ballet   Bes...

Mural, Mural on the Wall: A self-guided tour of Oakland’s murals

The whole city of Oakland is a canvas. Over 1,000 murals can be found throughout the city, covering once-empty walls in explosions of color. Street art is inherently radical, and many of Oakland’s murals deal with themes of protest, injustice and identity. Like the city itself, Oakland’s murals are bright, bold and unapologetic. By nature, street art changes all the time, but there are enough murals in Oakland to satisfy any urban explorer. Although street art can be found anywhere in Oakland, certain neighborhoods have more murals than others. Here is a self-guided tour to three of Oakland’s best mural neighborhoods—a full map of all the murals in the city is available at under “Mural Map.”  San Pablo and Golden Gate  San Pablo Avenue, which runs the length of B...

East Bay Tramp: Charlie Chaplin took over Niles and then the world

In 1869 Niles was a sleepy agricultural town situated some 20 miles south of Oakland and 20 miles north of San Jose, almost in the shadow of Mission Peak. Then the train arrived, and Niles became one of the last links in the transcontinental railroad connecting the East and the West coasts. Surveyors had concluded that picturesque Niles Canyon offered the best route through the East Bay Hills and into the San Francisco Bay Area, so it was through there that the first Central Pacific railroad rolled into the Bay Area on Sept. 6, 1869. Some 43 years later, in 1912, Gilbert “Bronco Billy” Anderson, cowboy star and director, decamped the train into Niles, the junction point linking Oakland, Stockton and Sacramento. Anderson liked what he saw—the rushing stream and steep ravines of Niles Canyon...

The Oakland in Me

Harris got into politics at a young age and at 13 she and her sister staged a protest regarding children being allowed to play on the lawn.

Joel Bernstein sees the light

Acclaimed rock ’n’ roll photographer and longtime Rockridge resident Joel Bernstein was still a teen when he asked Neil Young if he could play with Young’s new mother-of-pearl-inlaid Martin D-45 backstage. After a few minutes, when Young was called to go onstage, Bernstein quickly tuned the instrument and handed it back. Three years later, Young remembered the perfect tuning and asked Bernstein to be his guitar tech. Bernstein continued carrying his camera as he toured with Young, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Prince, documenting both iconic moments and quiet, reflective ones from a vantage most fans never see.  Bernstein also captured images from the biggest stadium tour since the Beatles—Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s 1974 sweep—which became a blueprint for the 1970s model th...